Android Studio 3.3 - Trying Harder?
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Another decimal point upgrade to Android Studio and more hope for the future. I really wanted to like this one but, as with other recent upgrades, it introduces a lot of churn and my existing projects won't work with it. 

Project Marble is the Android Studio team's way of trying to focus on code quality and Android Studio 3.3 has had 200 user reported bugs cleared up - but not mine. Yes, the spinners and other widgets that disappeared when Android Studio 3.1 was released are still missing. For me this is the biggest indicator that the Android Studio team really don't seem to understand that they have users. Every time they tweak an aspect of the UI, users have to do battle to get back to where they where.

I have to say that I started out with the new version with a lot of hope. In installed nicely and even offered to delete redundant IDE folders - but disk space isn't really an issue. Everything seemed to be working and then I tried loading and working with some existing projects. My Kotlin-based projects loaded and hung forever while building. Eventually I did get some information that made me upgrade the SDK and later Gradle and much later the Kotlin add-in - but I still couldn't make my old projects work. My old Java projects similarly failed to build. So given I needed to find some  things out about Studio 3.3, I gave up and started a new project. At first this too failed with a broken pipe error but on a second attempt it did work.

The problem is that I'm a sample of one and so you can't really generalize, but breaking existing projects and not making the upgrades necessary clear has a long history in Android Studio updates. My best guess is that I'm not the only one who will hit difficulties - although I'm not saying that there aren't some users who will have a better experience.

So what does the pain Android Studio 3.3 has given me get me in return?

Take a look at the video:

They all seem a bit minor, with the exception of the JetPack Navigation component editor. This now seems to be the recommended way of doing the job and so if you have learned the old way you just have to start over. This is always the problem with new and improved ways of doing things and instead of making what we have work better, the Android Studio team seem to take the approach of ripping everything up and starting again. For example, the relative layout component is still in the legacy category so if you have an app that uses it start to worry when support will be pulled.

There is a big difference between backward compatible and creating so much churn that you have to keep moving to stand still.

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What would I like to see in Android Studio 4?

The first thing is that it would be nice is my old projects just worked. I'd also like to see the missing widgets back in the palette and the ability to add custom widgets to the palette.  Something also has to be done about the crazy number of attributes that a widget has.

 

 

More Information

Announcement of Android Studio 3.3

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Android Studio 3.1 Released - Widgets Lost

Android KTX - Kotlin Extensions

Kotlin - New Language For Android

Android Studio Moves Toward Java 8

Google's Jack & Jill Android Java Compiler Project Is Dead

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Last Updated ( Friday, 18 January 2019 )