Sams Teach Yourself HTML5 Mobile Application Development

 

Author: Jennifer Kyrnin
Publisher: Sams
Pages: 498
ISBN: 978-0672334405
Aimed at: Presumably aspiring mobile developers
Rating: 1
Pros: Over in 24 hours
Cons: Not about programming, insufficient and misleading coverage of mobile issues
Reviewed by: Lucy Black

This is another learn everything you need to know in 24 hours, or rather 24 sessions, book from Sams. This time the task looks almost possible, because the book, at fewer than 500 pages, is comparatively thin.

The real question however is, what exactly the author has in mind for the term "Mobile Application Development"?

There is no doubt what HTML5 app development means you use HTML5/CSS3 as the layout language and JavaScript as the programming language, but Mobile Application Development suggests something more targeted. Perhaps we are going to be treated to how to craft native apps using something like PhoneGap. If this is what you are expecting then you will be disappointed.

In fact all we get is an account of more or less traditional HTML5 application construction with the occasional mention of the fact that the page will be viewed on a small screen with limited power. You could probably learn as much from a book focusing on mainstream HTML5 app creation. To be clear, this book isn't really about mobile anything.


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Part I is on the basics of HTML5 - what is it, layout tags, CSS3, detecting facilities, JavaScript, designing a web app, upgrading to HTML5 and covering web apps to mobile. The big problem is that the coverage is very shallow. There are few big ideas and the introduction to JavaScript using jQuery isn't going to get anyone up to speed. Given that an app is a web page that uses JavaScript to do something, this should be a central concern. Either the book should assume that you are an expert JavaScript programmer or it should make an effort to get you started. The chapter in this book doesn't really do either. It is simply inadequate.

In addition there are very few explanations of how mobile apps are different. For example, in the CSS3 account there is little to no mention of vendor prefixes. If you are going to code for a webkit browser, which is what you mostly find on a mobile device, then you are going to have to use vendor prefixes to make it all work better than average.

There is also a very strange attitude towards IE, which seems to paint it as being the most evil thing ever invented. I agree there are problems with Microsoft's attitude towards standards, but it isn't as bad as it used to be and IE9 (and the soon-to-be-released IE10) supports most of HTML5 as well as the other browsers.

Another problem is the way that the capabilities of browsers are described in vague and often contradictory terms. One minute a browser hardly supports HTML5 and then it seems to be OK to use.

Part II is titled Learning the HTML5 Essentials - which raises the question of what we have been learning up to this point? It covers the semantic use of HTML5, Canvas, fonts, audio, video, forms, editing, microformats, drag and drop and HTML5 links. This is all a very conventional look at the technologies that are generally part of HTML5 application development. Again the coverage is very shallow.

Part III is titled HTML5 for Mobile Web Applications - which once again raises the question of what we have been learning about so far? The topics covered include webSockets, web workers, offline web apps, web storage, the history API, geolocation and converting to a native app. Again all of these are standard HTML5 topics and not much is special to a mobile app - except of course for the information in the final chapter which discusses native apps. Here you will find out the difference between an HTML5 app and a native app and what is involved in creating one. PhoneGap is mentioned, but it is all too brief, too shallow and far too late.

Overall this is not a good book. It is basically about creating HTML5 applications in a general context with a few comments thrown in about mobile. There are lots of alternative books that cover the same ground more completely or in more depth.

In particular, the most important component of any app - i.e. JavaScript - is treated as if it was a poor relation. In other words, this book isn't really about programming. It seems to be a book about the non-programming aspects of HTML5 that has strayed into programming because the title of the book demands it.

If you already know how to create an HTML5 app then you will still know how to at the end of the book - but I doubt you will add significantly to your knowledge of mobile HTML5 apps. If you don't know how to create an HTML5 app then you still won't at the end of the book. As a result you can give this one a miss.


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Learning CSS3 Animations & Transitions

Author: Alexis Goldstein
Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2012
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0321839602
Audience: Advanced web page creators
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

CSS Animation? Surely not! That's for JavaScript and similar. CSS is just about what things look like - isn't it?



The Process of Software Architecting

Author: Peter Eeles & Peter Cripps
Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2009
Pages: 432
ISBN: 978-0321357489
Aimed at: Software Architects
Rating: 4.5
Pros: Good use of visual representations
Cons: Assumes high degree of pre-existing knowledge
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong

Billed as "an indispensable resource for  [ ... ]


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 January 2012 )
 
 

   
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