Happy New Year! | Corona SDK

Well, it’s 2014.  I hope you had a good Christmas.  I’m only a few days into January and I think I’ve already broken every one of my new year’s resolutions.  Next year’s resolution will be: not to make any more stupid resolutions!

Defection to Programming.

CoronaSDK_logo-300x99I finally started doing a bit of programming towards the end of 2013.  It’s something I’ve been wanting / needing to do for some time now.  So, I finally bit the bullet and got stuck in. Well, I say programming – I guess it’s more accurate to say I started scripting.  I’ve been learning an interpreted language called LUA, specifically to use the mobile development platform that is Corona SDK.

Corona SDK.  What is it?

For those of you who haven’t heard of Corona SDK before, it’s a software development system that enables you to develop apps and games for iOS, Android and shortly, Windows Phone.  It’s a lightweight language (although that term is relative – if like me you haven’t programmed anything since the mid nineties – then it certainly doesn’t feel lightweight!).  And, while ideally suited to games programming, it can be used to code more serious applications.

So why did I choose Corona?  After all, there are so many different systems out there.  Well, the decision wasn’t easy.  Especially as a good friend of mine is working on two of the competing systems (AppEasy and Marmalade Quick).  I was essentially won over by Corona’s comprehensive documentation and excellent online community.  If you’re going to set about learning something, you need good documentation right?  Well Corona has tons of well written docs.  I have also found the staff at Corona Labs really helpful.  I currently use the free version.  Yet, on the occasions where I have run into problems, they have always replied to my emails and helped me out.  I can’t say I’ve always had that level of service from paid subscription services.

With Corona SDK, it’s possible to start developing and testing code on a device with very little financial outlay.  If you have a compatible Android device (anything that uses an ARMv7 or above and Android 2.2 or above) then you already have everything you need.  If you want to test your program on an iPad or iPhone, but don’t have a Mac – then unfortunately, you’ll need to get one.  Or borrow one.  And, being Apple, they cost quite a lot of money.   An entry level Mac Mini will probably set you back around £450 GBP.  Which, is quite a lot to shell out if all you want to do is test the water with a bit of code.

Being a cheapskate, I opted to buy a budget Android phone rather than invest in more Apple kit.  I bought a Huawei Y300 for £69 (now £39 – which is an amazing price for a device with a great screen and packed full of features).  Okay, it’s not the fastest phone in the world, but it’s more than adequate for testing out your code.  I like to think that working on a slow device is advantageous in some ways – in that it forces you to write your code efficiently to make it fast.

Working with Corona SDK has been fantastic.  Having worked as a game artist for many years; actually being able to implement your own graphics is really liberating.  It’s nice not having to nag a programmer to try out an idea.

I will outline my basic setup in another post, as you ideally need to install a few other programs along with Corona in to make it nicer to use.

Anyhow, this entry has probably gone on a bit too long.  I’d better leave it there.

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