Interview with Abhisek Devkota

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Next interview is done with Abhisek Devkota by Aygul Zagidullina. Thank you very much Aygul for the interviews :)

Tell us a little bit about your average Android development day or your work day :)

Abhisek:I have the privilege of working with some of the most talented professional and independent developers around the world on the CyanogenMod platform. My typical day begins with code review of submissions overnight, keeping an eye out for new features, bug fixes and items where my input can unblock an individual. I then focus on sprint planning (we use an agile system) for our commercial release of Cyanogen OS. These days my actual code output is probably at its lowest, but I find a lot of pride in being able to see and help a feature hit the end user device.

What would you say are the ingredients for a successful app?

Abhisek:You have to be willing to take risks, limit your scope for your initial release and release early and update often. The most successful apps that I’ve seen focus on one central problem, instead of trying to be a jack-of-all trades. Look at Quickly, Hover Browser, Link Bubble, or Allcast - all them them have one goal they are trying to solve, and don’t stray from that. Every improvement and feature is meant to solve that goal. Of course, getting your app out early is also a big key, as the clone app market in Android is a beast of its own.

What your talk at ADD this year will be about?

Abhisek:I have been asked to host a workshop this year, after giving a talk on CyanogenMod last year at ADD. The workshop will teach people how to build CyanogenMod for their device, either using their own PC or via a VPS instance.

You talk will be about building the CyanogenMod based Android OS on your own. Is that difficult and to what limits can we change our Android builds?

Abhisek:The difficulty in building your own CyanogenMod binary for your device is not high, the steps are fairly straightforward and easy to grasp. We’ve built some shortcuts into the build system to help that difficulty curve as well. As for limits, you really have none when you have the entire source code base at your fingerprints. I’ve actually found that it’s this lack of boundaries at previous hackathons that scared people away. Really though, your changes can be as minor as changing the strings within settings, to introducing brand new platform-wide APIs.

You’re part of the CyanogenMod team. What your team has been busy with in the last 12 months and what should we look forward in the future?

Abhisek:Last year was all about the KitKat release, and the shift to Lollipop in November. Both platforms are now fully supported by over 100 devices; for which we release nightly. We also introduced our revamped theming engine, allowing further UI personalization than ever before. The next step that we are focussing on is reaching out to app developers to allow them to bring unique capabilities when running on CyanogenMod. We’ve seen root apps and themes thrive on CM, and we want to expand the pool of apps that can do awesome things on CM (without needing root).

What are you most looking forward to at ADD?

Abhisek:I’ve known a handful of the speakers for a few years now - Tim, Xavier, Wiebe and others - and they always come with really insightful presentations. I’m looking forward to learning a lot. I’ve also found ADD to have the most interesting attendee base, last year I met a ton of amazing up and coming Android developers. Hoping this year’s turn out continues to impress.

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