iOS development isn’t known for being easy for most people getting started, but one thing they got right was how easy it is to set up a development environment using XCode. With Android new developers look forward to being able to use tools and languages that they either currently use or have used in the past. While Android uses common tools you can quickly find yourself lost navigating links trying to download and install the correct versions to make everything play nice.

This guide will walk you through the process of getting your development environment started from scratch on your Windows machine.

1. Install the Java JDK (not the JRE)

We need to head over to the Java installation site and download the JDK. Be sure you click on the “Download JDK” button, not the “Download JRE” button. I could provide a link but chances are it would be out of date by the time you read this.

Be sure you select the proper platform if you are running a 64bit version of Windows.   When prompted choose to install the JDK into “C:\Program Files\Java” which should be the default location anyway.

2. Set up your Java Path(s)

Now that the Java JDK is downloaded and installed we need to set a few environment variables.  The easiest way to do this is to right click on “My Computer” if you’re on Windows XP. If you’re on Windows 7 right click on “Computer” and go to properties.  If you’re on Windows XP the dialog we need should appear so just click on the “Advanced” tab.  If you’re on Windows 7 there’s an extra step click on “Advanced System Settings” first then click on the “Advanced” tab of the dialog that appears.  The button we’re looking for is “Environment Variables”

You will need to create a New System variable with the name of JAVA_HOME and the variable value will need to be ”C:\Program Files\Java\jdk{x.x.x_xx}” where x.x.x_xx is the version of the JDK you installed, you should be able to navigate to the directory in a windows explorer and copy the path. Once both values are entered click “OK”.

To test this open up a new command prompt window and type cd %JAVA_HOME% it should change your current path to the JAVA_HOME variable value AKA the Java JDK folder.

Next we need to edit the Path System variable.  Once the edit dialog is open go to the end of the Variable value field and add a semi-colon “;” if it doesn’t already exist.  Add the following text %JAVA_HOME%\bin this will enable us to run Java commands from the command line now.  Let’s test this by opening a command prompt and typing javac -version and you should see the version of the JDK you just downloaded.


3.  Download Eclipse

Eclipse Classic is the preferred IDE to use according to the folks over at Google and I’m not going to argue with them so let’s get it installed.  Go to the Eclipse Helios installation page and download the proper version depending if you are using a 32bit or 64bit OS.  This is going to take a while so let it go on in the background and we’ll get some of the other requirements.

I should note that you will probably want to download it to some place like “C:\Program Files\Eclipse” since there is no installer and this is the directory where you will launch Eclipse from.  There are no desktop icons that get generated either so if you would like one you will have to create the shortcut yourself.

4. Install the Android SDK

Head over to the Android SDK download page and select the installer for Windows.  It’s recommended to install to the default directory, you can overwrite the install directory if you wish just make note of the directory for later.

Once the download is complete leave the checkbox checked for “Start SDK Manager” and click finish.  This will launch the Android SDK and AVD manager.  The first order of business is to install the various versions of the SDK.  Personally I would recommend

  • 1.5 (API 3)
  • 1.6 (API 4)
  • 2.1 (API 7)
  • 2.2 (API 8 )
  • 2.3.3 (API 10)
  • 3.0 (API 11)
  • Android SDK Tools
  • Android SDK Platform-tools

I don’t install documentation or samples because I usually just do a Google search when I have questions.  But you could be lazy and just select everything and install it (WARNING it will take a long time).

Chances are by now you are waiting for either Eclipse or the Android SDK’s to download so feel free to grab a drink…….

5. Install the Android ADT Eclipse plugin

Once eclipse is finished downloading open it up and install the ADT plugin by going to Help > Install New Software. On the dialog that appears click Add in the top right corner.

For the Name field enter Android ADT or whatever you want to call it and for the location copy and paste then click OK.  If you have trouble getting this to work try http:// instead of https://

In the Available Software dialog click the checkbox by Developer Tools and click Next and continue clicking Next and finally accept the license agreement and click Finish.

When the installation is complete it will prompt you if you want to restart Eclipse, go ahead and restart Eclipse.

When Eclipse comes back up we will need to configure the ADT plugin by going to Window > Preferences and selecting Android from the left hand panel.  Now we need to click Browse and navigate to the Android SDK installation path that I told you to make note of in step 4.  Hit Apply to refresh the screen and you should see a list of all the Android SDK’s and components you have installed.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! you how have your very own Android development environment setup and ready to go.

Now go make something great!