Webb,Justin

The Android++ extension gives developers working in Visual Studio a way to develop C and C++ applications for Android without leaving Microsoft’s IDE. Justin Webb, lead programmer at gaming company NaturalMotion in Oxford, England, is the coder behind the extension, which also ensures native source-level debugging.

(Related: Android++: A native extension for Android app development in Visual Studio)

Webb has worked in the gaming industry for about six years, and in a more Android-specific role for the last two. He’s been surprised by the unexpected popularity of Android++ in the developer community, considering he started the project as a way to reduce his own daily aggravation of working with Android. SD Times talked to Webb about how the extension came to be, why it does not support C#, and how it could help bridge the platform gap.

SD Times: When did you start the Android++ project, and what was your initial motivation for creating the extension?
Webb: I’ve been working on this project for about two years, on and off, and have only had the website completed for a…[short time]. It (the motivation) was one of irritation, predominantly. I was frustrated at the state of native Android development and at how Google was taking a very hands-off approach toward the NDK. I’d worked on a number of different platforms previously, and it seemed like they didn’t particularly care about making anything developer friendly.

I felt it was unreasonable for them to expect every developer to know enough to augment their standard build systems when they hit obstacles, and the debugging situation was laughable. So I just decided to investigate making it better.

Considering Visual Studio is Microsoft’s IDE, and the majority of developers using it are working in C#, does Android++ have any features related to writing Android applications in C#? Is that something you’re working on?
Unfortunately no. Android++ is designed to support high-performance native applications, primarily games. I’ve received a number of questions from C# developers under the impression that Android++ supports C#; it does not. If the interest is high enough, I may look at developing a separate product, but that’s purely speculative at the moment.

About Rob Marvin

Rob Marvin has been covering the software development and technology industry as Online & Social Media Editor at SD Times since July 2013. He is a 2013 graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism and Psychology. Rob enjoys writing about anything and everything, from features, entertainment, news and culture to his current work covering the software development industry.