Choosing an SDK as a mobile app development newb

mobile app development newbI recently had an idea for a mobile app based on a popular game with a twist that requires a touch screen. I don’t know how to code, so I decided I’d try building a much simpler game to learn to make basic mobile apps. The first step was choosing what platform to build on. I owned an iPhone and so do most of my friends and family, so I wanted to create an iOS app. Basic googling taught me that I would need a Mac. I’m more comfortable with Windows. I decided I didn’t really care what type of device. Ideally, an app should work on any screen or operating system.

That’s when I started reading about SDKs for mobile app development. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what the acronym meant until I started talking with friends about mobile app development.

Best SDK for App Development Newbs

I can’t really say that these are the best SDKs out there. I made my choice mainly on what seemed like the easier platform to learn the basics on. I chose Corona SDK over PhoneGap and the native Android SDK.

It all started with this question:

What Language Did I Need To Know To Make a Mobile App?

I currently had various experiences working with:

  • Java
  • PHP
  • Ruby
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JQuery

I knew that I might be able to take advantage some of my previous coding experience. Therefore, these languages became part of the long tail keywords that drove my first searches related to choosing my first SDK for mobile app development. and brought the Android SDK and PhoneGap to my attention.

Android SDK

The Android SDK is the first thing I stumbled upon. I read Google’s tutorial and it seemed doable. However, it really bugged me that I would not be able to even install the app on my phone if it ever got released. It didn’t help that my experience with Java was limited to a Introduction to Programming class in university that I passed with my brain closed. In other words, the class was stupidly easy for anyone who understands basic logic.

I decided to move on.


The next SDK that I stumbled upon was PhoneGap. PhoneGap would take advantage of my HTML and CSS skills, but required extensive knowledge of JavaScript. The material to install the SDK scare the shit out of me. It wasn’t very newb friendly, so I moved on pretty quickly.

Focusing on coding language wasn’t extremely useful in choosing an SDK for my first mobile app due to my limited coding experience and iPhone obsession.

Corona SDK Wins Newb Friendly Award

I think I stumbled on this while reading a StackExchange question that got closed for being too broad. I’m not surprised because there’s probably an infinite number of skills useful for developing for Android.

While Corona SDK required me to learn a whole new language, Lua. The syntax wasn’t too hard to decipher and I found a lot of decent looking game development tutorials using Corona SDK. In addition, I’d be able to write an app that would work fine on both Android and iOS devices. I could code and test on my laptop and compile for iOS on my wonderful girlfriend’s MacBook Pro. All I needed to too is install it.

The installation guide for Windows was easy to follow and definitely not scary for the code-phobic. After following a few tutorials, I realized that I might actually be able to build a game prototype in less than 2 months.

Now, I just need to get coding. Hopefully I won’t be running into any problems with their free version, but that’s part of the fun of not knowing what the hell you are doing.

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