Author: Michael Givens
Publisher: Sams, 2008
Aimed at: Flash developers
Pros: Covers several aspects of AIR development
Cons: Devotes valuable space to generated code, repetitive
Reviewed by: Mike James
If you like the "in 24 hours" format and already know about Flex programming then you might well find this book helpful - but only if you have reached exactly the right stage in learning about Flash/Flex. The problem that any AIR book has to solve is that AIR is just the desktop deployment of a Flex application and this raises the issue of do you teach Flex first? This particular book doesn't tackle the Flex issue but it also isn't clear how much it really expects you to already know.
It starts from the basics of what an AIR application is and how to get a development environment setup - either Flex, Flash or Dreamweaver. There are a far too many long and fairly irrelevant listings. I can understand the problem that the author has in deciding what to list and what not to list, but in a book where the reader is supposed to be following the steps the generated files are easy enough to see. An instruction to view the generated files would have saved pages and perhaps given space for more useful information.
Some of the comments are also less than helpful - for example, early on the reader is told that editing the application descriptor can result in a malformed XML file which means you can't compile the program. No mention of how to repair a malformed XML file is given and so the beginner is left with nowhere to go. Far better to either avoid the issue or say a few words about how to fix the problem.
There is also a certain amount of repletion caused by starting out from scratch with a number of different IDEs.
Overall the book deals with an almost random collection of topics that take you through different aspects of AIR development. The value of the book depends on which topics you find useful. Nothing that is covered is very advanced and as the book isn't suitable for the complete beginner it is difficult to see who it is targeted at.
If you already program Flex/Flash using ActionScript and MXML it is difficult to see exactly what this book is going to tell you that you couldn't find out reading the documentation. If you haven't used ActionScript or MXML then you don't have much of a chance at all.