Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saving precious Android Market description text space

Pretty annoying that you only have 325 characters in the description field when submitting an app right? You really have to use the space wisely.

One of the things you usually want to put in what you have added/changed in the current release, so people who want to update know what to expect.
That takes up precious space of those 325 characters. But from now on you don't need to worry about that anymore because... it turns out you can put any text in the android:versionName attribute in the AndroidManifest.xml!

So what I usually do is put in versionName the digits from the android:versionCode attribute separated by dots, then a space and then a short description of what has changed since the last version. For example, suppose android:versionCode="103" then androidName becomes:

android:versionName="1.0.3 Preferences are now correctly stored"

So what does it look like? Well here's first a screenshot of an app that only puts in a version number in the android:versionName attribute:

And here's an example of an app that fully uses that attribute:

I do not know what the maximum lenght is of the versionName field, but apparently you can put quite some text in there, as can be seen from above screenshot.

Update: well, putting the version information in the versionName is not necessary anymore, since from now on there's a separate field to put the recent changes into. What now quickly comes to mind to put into the versionName could be the minimal SDK version number your app supports. That can be useful for people who want/need to get your app on non-Google markets. This way they get at least an indication whether the app can run on their phone or not.

Update: and recently (definitely since 23 Feb 2011) they have limited the length of the versionName field to 30 characters, because if you exceed that, at apk-upload time you'll see: "The versionName in AndroidManifest.xml exceeds maximum (30)."


Artem Russakovskii said...

You just conflicted yourself by mentioning versionCode and versionName.

Techie said...

@Artem: don't think I contradicted myself, but the sentence as it was wouldn't have won a beauty price ;) Changed the sentence to be more clear.