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Learning Android, by Marko Gargenta

Learning Android, by Marko Gargenta

This is a fairly good book that will take you through your first steps on Android application development. It goes over key concepts like activities, services, intents and asynchronous tasks, explores the helpers and builders in Eclipse (but does not refrain itself from going into the XML when needed) and does so by going through the development of a simple application. I think the best way to go through this book is to follow along and build your own. If the book has any weak spot, it's the sample application. For a book like this, I would not use a Twitter client - the Twitter API introduces some needless complexities into what should be a trivial example (and I, most certainly, don't want to develop yet another Twitter client). By going with a Twitter client, the book also somewhat limits itself to a certain narrow usage example and that affects what the book covers in terms of UI and tooling.

It took me a while to get through it because I opted to write an application different from the Yamba example (for the reasons I stated above). If you decide to go closely with the book example, you should do it in about a week. It also didn't help me the fact I could not dedicate more than a couple hours per week to the project.

A final piece of advice: I reviewed the ePub version on a Nook. The screen images were somewhat hard to read and I had to use the PDF version to see some of the finer detail. I am not sure whether this is a problem with the ePub version or with my specific e-reader (it has some issues). Your mileage may vary.

Pros: Short, easy to understand, well written

Cons: The example app is not perfect for the task

Best uses: Those new to Android

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On "Closure: The Definitive Guide" by Michael Bolin

“Closure: The Definitive Guide” by Michael Bolin does a nice job on explaining a battle-tested, very complex tool that helps maintaining very complex JavaScript codebases manageable and understandable. Appendix B itself is worth the book, as it explains many of the JavaScript quirks to newbies and made me learn I was not as good as I thought I was. The world would be a better place if all JavaScript programmers read the appendix.

Closure: The Definitive Guide

The rest of the book is what I expected - it teaches the reader how to build an application using Closure to your advantage, making your code more future-proof, browser-proof, more expressive, verifiable and testable. It covers the Closure Library, the Closure Compiler (a tool able to compile your JavaScript code into very compact JavaScript and Java that runs on your server - and, maybe, your mobile too), templates, widgets, AJAX, automated building and debugging. While we learn all that, the author also teaches us about the process of making a Google-sized web application. If you are at all familiar with JavaScript, the idea of doing a huge application is terrifying. After reading the book, while still scary, at least if feels possible to mere mortals.

If you are feeling the pressure of maintaining a big JavaScript project and is considering selling management the idea of migrating it to a JavaScript framework that encourages good practices (JavaScript makes it very easy to shoot yourself in the foot), this may be the book for you.

You can grab it directly on the O'Reilly web site. The e-book version comes without DRM and has Kindle, ePub, PDF and Android versions.

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