The latest version of Mono for Android includes a long-awaited design surface. Learn how it works.
It's interesting to look at the needs of various segments of developers. When I first start looking at an environment, the first thing I need to understand is the UI. I'm not magically born with some knowledge about the environment and don't learn well by just reading, so I need some help in getting started. I found this was true when I started Windows based development in the early 1990s, Dynamic Web in the late 1990s, ASP.NET in 2000, Silverlight/WPF, iPhone and Android.
I find that getting up to speed with a UI is the single biggest deterrent for someone learning a platform. I find that as a beginner I need the features provided by a design surface. It's only as I grow and become comfortable with a platform that I find that building a UI by hand is more productive. Even as I get more advanced, I still can learn from a designer, so it has value as I grow into a platform.
I hope that this article helps you as you dive into Android Development.