It's been the case for a long time that questions about installing and using the development tools for Android - adb, fastboot, the emulator - and the infrastructure behind installing and updating them - the SDK manager - are on-topic on this site. The rationale for this is that often, these tools are used for non-development purposes. Power users might use adb for changing settings on the device, for controlling it from a PC, or for backups. They might use the emulator to investigate an app without installing it, or to use an app their device doesn't support. And of course fastboot is often used for installing custom ROMs, or for upgrading Android by hand if an OTA upgrade is not available.

That said, I've seen a lot of flags and close-votes recently asking for questions of this type to be closed as development questions. Does this represent a change in the views of the community? Should we start treating these questions as off-topic?

I'm keen to hear lots of people's views about this, to form a consensus.

1 Answer 1


From my point of view, that very much depends on the intention. As you already pointed out in your question, there are many occasions where those tools are of benefit to the end user and thus should be on-topic. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • to install a ROM
  • for backups, restore, data recovery/retrieval, settings adjustments etc.

Others are rather in the scope of development and hence should be off-topic. Again, some non-exclusive examples:

  • AndroidStudio almost always points to development, except when solely meant for running the emulator to e.g. test apps (to which alternatives exist which are more end-user focused; so it should be clear why it must be AndroidStudio in this context)
  • Setting up an environment (via adb) to debug apps on-device

Summed up: if those questions target end-users, even power-users, they should be on-topic. If they (primarily) target development, they are off-topic.

That was as we've always dealt with it, and IMHO we should continue doing so.

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