I was recently fortunate enough to receive a review copy of “Appcelerator Titanium Smartphone App Development Cookbook” by Boydlee Pollentine from Packt Publishing. This book was timely for me as I’m seeing a lot of interest by my clients in mobile development. You see, a lot of them have their applications (some of which I designed) that have been running for over a decade at their office and have tons of data accumulated. They’re not about to write a new application for their desktop as long as the current one is running, but they’d love to get access to their data on a new mobile platform. It’s imperative that I learn this skill, and this book was extremely helpful.
This book calls itself a “cookbook,” and divides itself up into recipes. For example the very first recipe creates a basic app and shows the controls. The second recipe creates an `ajax’ type application that grabs data from a web service and displays it in tables and stores it in SQLite. The third recipe creates an app that uses Google maps and location services.
This books has a nice flow, so reading this book straight through gives an excellent tutorial and overview on how to develop mobile applications. At the same time this “cookbook” setup also allows you to quickly ascertain and implement just the feature you may need at any given time. So this book works as a tutorial as well as a reference. At some points the author challenges you by asking you to do things that were done in previous chapters, which detracts from the ability to strictly use this book as a reference.
My previous mobile development had been with PhoneGap, using Eclipse. Using Titanium Studio was a similar good experience. It’s very quick and the Intellisense for the Titanium libraries is excellent. It’s missing some features that Eclipse and Visual Studio have, but it’s not too bad.
iPhone development must be done on a Mac because it uses the Apple SDK (yes, I know there are ways around this but they’re a waste of your time), this book emphasizes Macs and iPhones a little, but there are ample screen shots for Android and the examples will work w/ Android just fine. Care is taken to point out distinctions between platforms.
No time at all is spent on how to install Titanium Studio or the requisite SDKs.. Is that a good thing? I kind of like that the book didn’t take the space to reprint someone else’s instructions, and just start right in with developing an app.
One downside of the book is that I have the electronic version of this book, and copying and pasting code examples from the book threw out carriage returns and made it necessary to reformat my code. But as it turns out, the examples in the book aren’t always accurate or match the example code that’s included. That sample code is excellent and mostly works very well, so I’d ignore the specifics of the code in the book and grab the code from the example files.
This book does a good job explaining why you’re doing things the way you’re doing them and suggests best practices when appropriate. It also suggests good ways of debugging when things go wrong.
If you’re interested in this book and want to see some more, check out a Sample Chapter.
The quibbles I have with the printed code and out-of-date links and screenshots are not nearly enough to prevent me from recommending this book to any developer, like me, that doesn’t want to learn Objective-C and Java in order to develop Android or iPhone applications. And even though the title says “Smartphone,” this book works just fine for tablet development as well.