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Android User Interface Development Beginner's Guide
by Jason Morris


Packt Publishing
first edition edition
February 2011
304 pages

Reviewed by Amit Ramchandra Ghorpade, May 2011
  (7 of 10)



The book follows a "try-it-yourself" approach and presented in an innovative way. Every example first tells the necessary steps then the code followed by an explanation of what is being done in the example. This style may be helpful for people who seek explanation of how the execution took place. Also the book presents some real life scenarios for examples, good practices and tips for various user interface designs, this will help beginners to understand user interface needs for their applications. Also there is nice information on styling the applications which help to do really cool things with the user interface.
About the cons, you won't find any introduction or detailed explanation as such so if you are really a beginner to Andorid, you may want to check the Android documentation first in order to get the basics of Android application development. Next thing is it does not focus on how to generate a fully programmatic user interface. Although this is not the best way of building user interface on Android, beginners find it easy and more natural than the declarative approach. So I think few examples on entirely programmatic user interface would have added elegance.
Then the very first example is not the traditional "Hello World!" but something more complex for a beginner that tends to dump a bunch of things in one go.

Put together I think it's a good book which you would like to refer at least once before designing your application user interface, but its not a purely newbie stuff.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Packt Publishing
first edition edition
February 2011
304 pages

Reviewed by Rob Spoor, June 2011
  (9 of 10)



The book explicitly says it's a beginner's guide, and that's exactly what you're getting. You don't need any previous knowledge about Android, as long as you can program in Java. The focus really lies on the Android code, with Java code only provided where needed. Only the Android XML documents are recapped in full, but you can get the full code quite easily from the publisher's website. Be aware that the book does not teach you how to use Eclipse or any other IDE - it's all text editor and command line. I applaud this approach, because this way you get to learn the basics. You're not learning to build Android user interfaces in Eclipse, you're learning to build Android user interfaces period.

The book handles topics ranging from the most basic application (Hello World), lists, tabs, layouts and animations, but also user friendliness. That's where in the end this book is focused on - teaching you to create user interfaces that are as friendly and easy as possible. As a result, you won't see much of code for other purposes - no placing phone calls, no accessing the address book, no camera interaction, etc. This makes the book a limited resource for overall Android programming, but then again this is a book about Android user interfaces.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to start programming in Android. For more advanced features you'll definitely need additional resources though.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Murach's Android Programming
by Joel Murach


Mike Murach & Associates
edition
September 2013
702 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, October 2013
  (9 of 10)



"Murach's Android Programming" follows the style we've come to expect from a Murach book. One side of the page is text description. The other is images, tables and bullet points. This approach lets them deliver on the same book being for both training and reference.

The only pre-requisite listed for reading the book is basic Java. This is true - the book explains everything else - XML, databases, etc. Chapter 1 moves fast to give an overview, but the book circles back and covers everything in depth.

I particularly liked the parts on how to debug and use the emulator. There was very strong coverage of core concepts throughout. I liked that the database overview covered SQL injection. The screens of layouts and widgets were a good use of pictures.

The only thing that didn't feel smooth to me was that I couldn't find a picture of a D-Pad. Or rather I couldn't find one that was labeled that way. (The first reference to a D-Pad was on page 54.) This is minor and it's good when your biggest gripe about a book is something trivial!

"Murach's Android Programming" is a great way to learn how to write your first Android app. You'll get started quickly and then have a reference when you need idioms or how-to's for that app and later ones.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Mike Murach & Associates
edition
September 2013
702 pages

Reviewed by Greg Charles, November 2013
  (8 of 10)



Murach's Android Programming is a good introductory course to Android development. Its style is dry and matter-of-fact, and lacks the visual punch of something like the "Heads First" series, or the conversational tone of various other texts. However, it is clear and accurate, and the many downloadable examples are well integrated into the text, which makes it easy to follow along and try out the techniques as they are presented.

Mr. Murach assumes basic to intermediate Java programming abilities, but otherwise the prerequisites for this book are very low. In addition to covering Android specific topics, he gives thorough explanations of how to set up and use Eclipse, how to work with XML files, and even about event handling and listeners. Seasoned developers will find themselves skimming some of the early sections, but that is certainly better than being lost.

I was disappointed with the Eclipse tooling for Android development and found it very difficult to work with. That's hardly the fault of this text, but I would have liked to see more coverage of alternate tools or at least clearer explanations of how the Eclipse tools are organized, and some discussion of known bugs and advice for workarounds.

In short, this book will get you from no knowledge of Android to being able to write moderately complex apps and deploy them to Android devices. It won't be the only book you'll read if you decide on an Android career, but it will set you down the path.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Mike Murach & Associates
edition
September 2013
702 pages

Reviewed by Mohamed Sanaulla, December 2013
  (10 of 10)



Murach's books are more oriented towards practical learning and this one's no different. The book covers the topics in an order and has grouped topics in accordance to their level of complexity and use. The author has chosen appropriate examples to explain these different groups of topics. The examples are not mere use this component that component and print out something, instead they are quite useful and closer to real-world applications.

This is a complete guide to Android programming and I would strongly suggest anyone who wants to learn Android programming to pick this book. The screenshots showing the application layout, IDE options are all very clear. Also there is a very clear appendix which I found to be really useful to setup your Android Development environment. I found the state diagram explaining the states of an Activity to be very clear and it didn't require me to read anything more to understand it.

This book though assumes that you are already familiar with Java, so if you want to learn Java you can pick Murach's Java Programming or any other famous books like Head First Java.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Mike Murach & Associates
edition
September 2013
702 pages

Reviewed by Rob Spoor, December 2013
  (8 of 10)



"Murach's Android Programming" is a good introduction into Android programming. The book requires only basic Java knowledge, and it shows at times. The book sometimes spends a bit too much time explaining code snippets that should be clear for anyone experienced in Java.

The chapters discuss several controls and techniques, using good example apps. Unlike the previous Android book I read this book doesn't stop at the UI, but also explains how to write back-ground services and listen to broadcast events. After reading this book you will be able to write small-scale programs without much trouble.

That said, there are two things that annoyed me about this book:
1) When discussing releasing apps, the book mentions several billing options but then only descrives publishing free applications. When referring to in-app billing or adds, the book literally says "To learn how to add XXX to your app, you can start by searching for "XXX" in the Android documentation". I expected a bit more coverage for these topics. The book might as well not even mentioned the possibilities.
2) The first 16 chapters discuss several topics for creating apps. Chapter 17 then discusses publishing these apps, only for chapter 18 to follow with another possible feature to apps (map support). It's like "you now can create and publish any app you want. Oh wait, here's one thing we forgot". Chapter 18 doesn't refer to chapter 17 in any way, so it wouldn't have been hard to swap the two around. That way, the book first discusses all technical aspects followed by publishing. That would have made more sense to me.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition)
by Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister


Addison-Wesley Professional
third edition
June 2013
272 pages

Reviewed by Mohamed Sanaulla, October 2013
  (9 of 10)



Peopleware is a must read for Managers who want to explore and learn about different managerial responsibilities and learn about what not to be done while executing those responsibilities. The content is presented with a touch of humour so you need not be surprised if you are found laughing while you are reading. The authors have penned in their experience and what the have seen and learnt about managing people over the years. The book deals identifying right metrics to enable efficient management of IT projects citing the major factor deciding the fate of IT Projects is the people involved in it and not much due to the technological factors.

If you are not a manager yet- you will find some of the chapters/sections of the book interesting and helps you to know how things work at a managerial level. But there are other chapters which make you feel bored like the section on arranging office furniture.

There are lot of one liners through out the book which are really catchy. Few of which I have noted in the first few chapters of the book are:

- The main reason we tend to focus on the techincal rather than the human side of the work is not because it's more crucial, but because it's easier to do.
- People under time pressure don't work better- they just work faster.
- Quality is free, but only to those who are willing to pay heavily for it.

To conclude Peopleware is a MUST read for IT Projectr Managers and I will recommend this along with another great book: "The Mythical Man month".

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Addison-Wesley Professional
third edition
June 2013
272 pages

Reviewed by Greg Charles, November 2013
  (8 of 10)



Murach's Android Programming is a good introductory course to Android development. Its style is dry and matter-of-fact, and lacks the visual punch of something like the "Heads First" series, or the conversational tone of various other texts. However, it is clear and accurate, and the many downloadable examples are well integrated into the text, which makes it easy to follow along and try out the techniques as they are presented.

Mr. Murach assumes basic to intermediate Java programming abilities, but otherwise the prerequisites for this book are very low. In addition to covering Android specific topics, he gives thorough explanations of how to set up and use Eclipse, how to work with XML files, and even about event handling and listeners. Seasoned developers will find themselves skimming some of the early sections, but that is certainly better than being lost.

I was disappointed with the Eclipse tooling for Android development and found it very difficult to work with. That's hardly the fault of this text, but I would have liked to see more coverage of alternate tools or at least clearer explanations of how the Eclipse tools are organized, and some discussion of known bugs and advice for workarounds.

In short, this book will get you from no knowledge of Android to being able to write moderately complex apps and deploy them to Android devices. It won't be the only book you'll read if you decide on an Android career, but it will set you down the path.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Application Security for the Android Platform: Processes, Permissions, and Other Safeguards
by Jeff Six


O'Reilly Media
1st edition
December 2011
112 pages

Reviewed by Ulf Dittmer, December 2011
  (8 of 10)



While it's tempting to think that a mobile phone is a safer environment than, say, a web app, the reality is that it's becoming less so, if it ever was that in the first place. Malware of various kinds is just as much of a threat to a mobile app as to a web app, particularly in an ecosystem as open as Android.

This book ties together the different aspects that an Android app developer needs to consider when releasing an app into the wild (like through Google's Android Market). It covers the underlying OS architecture, where many app privileges are based on Linux file permissions, and then proceeds to the application permissions that govern capabilities granted to an app, like access to GPS location, use of internet connectivity, and access to SD card data. The latter will be familiar to anyone who's written an Android app (since they need to be listed explicitly in each app's manifest file). The next chapter covers the interprocess communication that allows apps to make use of other apps capabilities and permissions - Intents, BroadcastReceivers and ContentProviders. While the "how" of those is generally covered extensively, the security aspects tend to get overlooked; but not here. The last couple of chapters deal with securing sensitive data stored on the device, and with the internet connectivity that most mobile apps do in some form, and to which the same network security principles apply as for web apps (SSL encryption and mutual authentication). Those chapters delve deeply into Java's JCE API.

Overall I found the book easy to follow along, with plenty of code examples to study. The chapters can be read largely independently of one another, but at a length of not much more than 100 pages one might as well read the book in whole. While parts of the book will be familiar to a seasoned Java developer, and some parts have been covered widely online, this reviewer thinks it's still useful to have it all in one place, so as better to start thinking about app security as a whole, not as individual pieces to be used as is convenient - the threats are multiple, and an app is only as strong as its weakest point. Once it's out there on a device, it's subject to much more extensive probing than would be possible for a web app. Better to get its security story straight.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Sams Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours (Covering Java 7 and Android) (6th Edition)
by Rogers Cadenhead


Sams
6 edition
October 2011
432 pages

Reviewed by Mohamed Sanaulla, May 2012
  (5 of 10)



If you are starting out learning Java, then this book is NOT for you. If you have programmed quite a bit in java then this book is NOT for you.

With the introduction above, let me start with the good points about the book:
1. A good amount of effort put in for Swing and AWT related concepts.
2. There are some exercise questions to follow after each chapter.
3. Gives some introduction on Android. This I think is good because as a beginner its appealing to know the adaption of Java language.

Now to the not so good parts:
1. Uses/Encourages the use of NetBeans IDE. Whereas beginners are not encouraged to use IDEs as they never allow you to fail.
2. No chapters on Generics and Collections. Threading covered in terms of Swing which is not the right way to cover it.
3. No try-with-resources feature of Java 7 mentioned in the exception handling section.
4. The chapter on creating Web Services using JAX-WS, parsing XML were not really required. Moreover there has been mention of REST in the JAX-WS chapter where as its using SOAP.
5. No real value added examples to back the content.
6. No good coverage of OOP concepts.

The bottom line is if you are serious about learning Java, then this book is not recommended. The content is simple to understand, but it really doesn't teach Java the right way.

And on a closing note, one can learn a language only when they spend some time learning and trying out the examples and for a language like Java learning about its API is also important.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Java for Programmers (Deitel Developer)
by Paul J. Deitel, Harvey M. Deitel, Paul J. Deitel, Harvey M. Deitel


Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
February 2009
1200 pages

Reviewed by Campbell Ritchie, March 2009
  (8 of 10)


This book follows the winning formula which all Deitel books use; some people (myself included) like the Deitel style and others don't. Nil desperandum: you can probably find sample chapters at www.Deitel.com. Like all Deitel books, it is large and provides lots of pages for your $!

I enjoyed reading it. The book follows the same pattern as its "How to Program" stable-mate, but lacks some of the beginner's material, so it is quicker to read. Unfortunately the exercises at the ends of chapters, and some of the larger code examples (e.g. the messenger) have gone too.

It is very clear to read, covering all the basics, and introductions to Swing, regular expressions, generics, and threading. Threading can only be handled briefly in a general book and those wanting more detail should look for Brian Goetz's book. Similarly a full handling of websites or databases would require another book.

Exception handling is well covered, but I would have preferred to see more about preconditions and postconditions, and how to maintain a class invariate.

The book has been updated to Java 6 and includes SwingWorker and the Desktop interface. There are also chapters about interfacing with networks, databases (MySQL rather than Derby) Ajax, Java server Faces and Web services.

Those who like a traditional pedagogic introduction to a wide range of Java work, and who like the style, will find this book a great asset; raw beginners might prefer the "How To" book.

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Prentice Hall PTR
second edition
April 2011
1168 pages

Reviewed by Wouter Oet, July 2011
  (4 of 10)



Java for Programmers claims to be a book for the professional programmer. I find this odd since the first 300 pages (out of 1168) are about how to program in Java. If the target group is professionals then remove that bit or if it also includes people that are new to Java or programming in general then 300 pages isn't nearly enough.

The book covers the following topics: Java APIs, Object-Oriented Programming, Database, SQL, JDBC, JavaDB/Apache Derby/MySQL, Networking, JavaServer Faces 2.0, AJAX-Enabled Web Application, Web Services, Generics, Collections, Files, Exception Handling, Multithreading, Swing Graphical User Interfaces, Graphics/Java 2D, Multimedia, OOD/UML ATM Case Study, Debugger and an online introduction to Android App Development. When I saw this list I was quite surprised. For almost each of these topics you can pick up a book of the same size. I was skeptic about how they managed to fit all that information in there.

The main reason I decided to review this book was that it also claimed to cover Java SE 7.Unfortunately these claims have not been totally fulfilled. There is nothing about NIO 2.0 (file-handling), the fork-join framework and binary integral literals and underscores in numeric literals.

The book feels like a big collection of enhanced tutorials. The chapters allow you to write an example program but if you deviate only slightly you'll need to look up materials only as it isn't in the book. The authors decided to use Netbeans as tool to generate code and directory structures. I don't use Netbeans so that was quite annoying. Using Maven it would have been possible to generate code and support for your favorite IDE.

Some of the code examples in this book are just wrong. Improper closing of resources, excessive usage of System.out.printf(), usage of System.exit(1) in exception blocks and no seperation between Model, View & Controller for example.

This book tries to cover to much and therefore fails to properly cover the topics. The quality of the chapters isn't great. If you want to know little about a lot of topics then this is a great book, otherwise google for an tutorial about your topic of choice or pick up a book specific for that topic.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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The Android Developer's Cookbook: Building Applications with the Android SDK (Developer's Library)
by James Steele, Nelson To


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
October 2010
400 pages

Reviewed by Peter Johnson, November 2010
  (7 of 10)


This book provides a number of "recipes" that illustrate various concepts of the Android OS and its application framework. The book does not claim to be an introductory text, and while it does explain some concepts the explanation is usually very brief.

You can get the source code for the recipes in the book from the publisher's web site. You will need the source code.

I read the book from cover to cover trying out most of the recipes.

Positives:
* The book includes a large variety of recipes on a variety of topics.
* Each recipe stands on its own (there are a few recipes that identify changes to the prior recipe).

Negatives:
* Not all of the recipes are included in the source code.
* Many of the recipes are incomplete (usually failing to mention additional items to place in the manifest file).
* Some recipes contained only code changes to the prior recipe but not in context. Without the context it was difficult to tell where to place the new code. In many cases I could not get the app to run. And the source was not in the code examples.
* Too many of the recipes are simple "hello" style apps. As an example, the "fling" app merely displays a message indicating the fling direction. A better example would have been to actually scroll something (image, text, whatever) based on the fling. (On the other hand, the dual-touch example showed how to zoom an image in and out.)

Bottom line:
If you are looking for an additional Android book and this book covers concepts in which you are interested, it might be worthwhile. I did learn a few things and will refer to the book in the future.

---
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
October 2010
400 pages

Reviewed by Christophe Verre, January 2011
  (7 of 10)


The Android Developer's Cookbook is a recipe-styled book, where each recipe shows how to use a particular feature of the Android SDK. Each recipe is more or less independent of the others. It's not a classical beginners book, but I think it can still be used to start learning about Android development. It starts with an overview of the Android platform, then presents various recipes in a logical order. First, the most basic recipes : activities, intents, threads, services, alerts, widgets and other ui, events like key presses and Touch events. Then recipes explaining how to use specific functionalities : multimedia, hardware (sensors), networking, data storage, location services like Google Maps, and many more advances recipes. Finally, recipes on debugging.

The authors are using Eclipse and its Android plugin to create sample applications. The book is very easy to follow. There are a lot of code snippets, and some pictures to illustrate their execution. Anybody with some basic UI understanding (e.g. Swing experience) should easily read through the content. It's the kind of book you'd keep on your desk for further reference. It's not a complete reference book though. Explanations and samples are short, so you may still have to look for more detailed information in the online documentation. It's a nice cookbook. Not complete, but well worth reading.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
October 2010
400 pages

Reviewed by Amit Ghorpade, February 2011
  (7 of 10)



The cookbook name suggests that this book is about cooking recipes for the Android platform. It does start from scratch assuming a novice reader. The approach followed is introducing a concept followed by a recipe on the same. Much like illustrations per concept introduced. Since its a handbook type of book, you won't get much of explanation per topic, you need to explore more on your own.
There is an advantage to Eclipse users that the code samples are explained using Eclipse.
I think the book essentially lacked two things, one no notes/hints like possible errors, recommended use of functions, what might go wrong, etc. Either you find it mixed somewhere in the recipe or you don't find it at all. The second thing is no "try your own" recipes/exercises for practice.
At some places you won't find the actual code but just the steps, although this helps in understanding the example but I feel that actual code gives a better understanding at times.
The book provides recipes for almost all Android features like bluetooth, location based services, network, security, etc. Put together it's a good book for quick reference and even for beginners.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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Unlocking Android: A Developer's Guide
by Frank Ableson, Charlie Collins, Robi Sen


Manning Publications
1 edition
April 2009
416 pages

Reviewed by Ulf Dittmer, September 2010
  (7 of 10)


Android being a complete application platform, it's impossible to cover all of it in a single book, but "Unlocking Android" makes a credible attempt at getting the reader up and running quickly. The major chapters cover the development environment, user interfaces, intents and services (the building blocks of Android apps), storing and retrieving data, networking and web services, telephony, notifications and alarms, graphics and animation, multimedia, and handling location. After the capabilities of the platform have been introduced along with many code examples that show them in use, a lengthy example app that ties it all together is developed from scratch.

None of the areas is covered in full depth -trying to do so would be futile, given the size of the class libraries- but once a familiarity with the basic concepts has been established, the reader can consult the javadocs for more information, and use targeted web searches to find the missing pieces. The same is true for more advanced concepts such as OpenGL and native code, which are covered just briefly or not at all.

It needs to be said that Android is a fast-moving target, and while this book covers the now obsolete Android 1.x, a 2nd edition is on its way and will update coverage to Android 2.x. I recommend the book -or rather, its upcoming new edition- to anyone who has had no exposure to Android, and needs to get up to speed quickly on a whole range of issues. Reading javadocs and searching the web will be necessary to fill in some of the blanks, though.

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Hello Android
by Ed Burnette


Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition

218 pages

Reviewed by Maneesh Godbole, March 2009
  (8 of 10)


If you want to get your feet wet with Android, this book is the way to go.

Ed leads you on with simple steps, starting with the basic and keeps on building on it. The book is arranged logically, building on previous material. The "Fast Forward" sections help you jump around for interesting material, if you wish to do so. Ed has managed to sprinkle the book with numerous tips and tricks, which are arranged so as to practically read your mind and provide you helpful hints right there itself.

Looking forward to more such gems from Ed.

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