Monday, March 2, 2015

Using the Dell Venue 8-7000 for Android Development



I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a shiny new Dell Venue 8-7000 - and it’s a fantastic tablet. I’m slightly sad to say it’s going to be replacing my trusty Lenovo S8-50 tab. It’s been a fantastic device but you just can’t argue with the extra performance, or the 2560x1600 screen on the Dell. But this isn’t meant to be a review or a comparison. If you’re looking for a quick opinion, I’d absolutely recommend either tablet. The Venue 8-7000 is a beautiful high-end device, and the Lenovo S8-50 is shockingly good at its price point.

But the point of this post is to get to work (developing) on the Dell Venue 8-7000. Something that surprisingly doesn’t work “out of the box” on Windows.


The Problem? Drivers

To use an Android device for debugging on Windows, you need to have the correct drivers installed.  For Nexus devices, you can simply download the “Google USB Driver” via the Android SDK manager. And occasionally, such as with most Samsung Android devices, you need to download drivers directly from the developer’s website.

Unfortunately the Google USB Drivers don’t work, and when searching Dell’s website for drivers or downloads, there aren’t any.



The Fix? Hack the Google Drivers

Before I go on, there is a warning. You’ll need to configure your Windows system to allow unsigned drivers to be installed. This is because the checksum for the driver is no longer going to be correct after we edit it. I’m not going to cover that here, but a simple Google search will take you through the steps if you’re running Windows 8.1.

Step 1 – obtain a copy of the Google USB Drivers

If you’ve downloaded them already using the SDK manager, simply navigate to your installed location. If you’re a Xamarin developer it’s typically c:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Local\Android\android-sdk\extras\google\usb_driver. Remember that the “Local” folder is hidden by default.

Alternatively, you can download the driver directly from here:

Copy this folder to another location since we’re going to modify it.


Step 2 – Enable Developer Options and USB Debugging

  1. Open Settings on the Venue 8
  2. Scroll to the bottom and click “About tablet”
  3. Tap on the Build number 7 times (to enable the Developer options)
  4. Go back one screen to Settings – you should now see “Developer options” above “About tablet”
  5. Open Developer options and check “USB Debugging”  
Step 3 – Configure the Dell Venue 8-7000
  1. Open Settings
  2. Select “Storage”
  3. Tap on the context menu in the upper right corner (three vertical dots)
  4. Select “USB computer connection” (it’s likely the only option
  5. Change the “CONNECT AS” option to “Camera (PTP)”
Step 4 – Get your Dell Venue 8’s device IDs
  1. Plug in your Dell Tablet to your Windows PC
  2. Open the Control Panel
  3. Open the Device Manager
  4. Expand “Other devices” and select “Android”
  5. On the Details tab, change the property to Hardware Ids and save them both
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for the “MTP” entry under “Other devices” and save/record the IDs




Step 5 – Modify the USB Drivers

  1. Open the location of your saved drivers
  2. Open “android_winusb.inf” with your favourite text editor
  3. Find the [Google.NTx86] section
  4. Add the two “Android” ids as %CompositeAdbInterface% entries
  5. Add the “MTP” ids as %SingleBootLoaderInterface% and %SingleAdbInterface%
  6. Scroll down to the [Google.NTamd64] and add the same four entries
  7. Save the inf file

It should look something like this:

;Dell Venue 8 7840
%CompositeAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_8087&PID_0A5D&REV_FFFF
%CompositeAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_8087&PID_0A5D
%SingleBootLoaderInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_413C&PID_B14D&MI_01
%SingleAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_413C&PID_B14D&REV_FFFF&MI_01

Step 6 – Update the Drivers

  1. Open the Device Manager again on your PC with Tablet plugged in
  2. Right-click on the “Android” entry under “Other devices” and select “Update Driver Software”
  3. Browse to your modified driver and install
  4. Repeat for the “MDP” entry

*Remember – you must be able to install unsigned drivers


Step 7 – Run and Debug apps on your new tablet

You’ll now see two new entries in the device manager. Under “Portable Devices” you should see something like “Venue 8 7840” (the specific number will vary based on the model). You’ll also see an “Android ADB interface” entry, on my system it’s listed under “SAMSUNG Android Phone”.


If everything worked you should be ready to develop! My Venue 8-7000 is showing up correctly in Visual Studio 2013, Xamarin Studio for Windows, and Android Studio.