Programming Social Applications

Author: Jonathan LeBlanc
Publisher: Yahoo Press
Pages: 544
ISBN: 978-1449394912
Aimed at: Intermediate JavaScript programmers
Rating: 3
Pros: Tackles a technical topic
Cons: Sometimes long-winded, lacks motivation
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

This isn't a book about how to use any particular social sites API. Instead it is an indepth look at using open protocols and API to build social applications.

This is not a book that tells you how to create apps for a particular social site so if you simply want to learn the Facebook API or similar you probably need a different book.

It starts off with a lightening overview of a collection of initial ideas. It assumes that you not only know JavaScript and other web technologies but are already be fairly expert. Even so the overview is very vague and waffly and attempts to explain a lot without any real concrete examples. The whole core of the book is the Open APIs, but it fails to explain which existing social networks make use of them or how important they are. At the end of the chapter I was well confused.

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Chapter 2 deals with using social graph to map relationships and by this point you might have expected to have encountered some code or even some HTML but the most we have is a small example at the end on using the OpenLike Widgets - which is interesting but not deep. At the end of the chapter I was wondering when we were going to get started and it really isn't at Chapter 3, which tells you how to install Apache Shindig and Partuza.

Chapter 4 digs deep into the OpenSocial JavaScript reference and this is where we do get to some coding but it isn't easy to follow. The examples are mostly unmotivated and the reader is often left wondering why they are doing something. Chapter 5 is on porting applications, profiles and friendships and Chapter 6 is on OpenSocial activities. This deals with porting a Facebook application to an OpenSocial container among other things.

From here the book moves into even more advanced territory - Advanced Open Social, security, PAuth and the Future.

This isn't a book for the beginner, but for the expert it doesn't really get to grips with the practicalities fast enough. You can't really call the book waffly because it has a lot of information and examples but there is something about the presentation that makes it difficult to get at the subject. Often you are left wondering why some task is important or what you might do with the result.

If you know you want to get involved with OpenSocial APIs then this will probably be invaluable to you, but for the general reader it isn't inspiring.

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Essential Scrum

Author: Kenneth S. Rubin
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Pages: 504
ISBN: 978-0137043293
Audience: New and also experienced users of Scrum
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Andrew Johnson

Kenneth Rubin provides training and coaching in Scrum and Agile and wrote this book in response to requests for an in-depth reference.



Alan Turing's Electronic Brain

Author: B. Jack Copeland
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 592
ISBN: 978-0199609154
Audience: Historians of computing
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Harry Fairhead

Alan Turing didn't have an electronic brain, but he did try to build one.


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