Author: Lauren Darcey, and Shane Conder
Aimed at: Java programmers
Pros: A good overview
Cons: Not much code
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
This is a full color easy-to-read introduction to Android development with the Eclipse add-on. It starts off with an overview of Android development and the first chapter covers a wide range of topics that the beginner probably doesn't need to know until later. It isn't a step-by-step introduction to getting your first program workings, more a high level overview of everything relevant to Android development. It also focuses on using the Eclipse environment - which is a good idea as many beginners find it confusing at first.
Chapter 2, sorry hour 2, continues this emphasis with a look at using the development tools - debugging and the emulator in particular. After this extended look at the development environment it is really only in hour 3 that creating Android applications moves to center stage. However we still circle around the main event looking at design issues, working with resources and configuring the manifest. At hour 6 we have an example - an Android trivia game. This example is continued through the rest of the book.
Part II of the book, which has the strange title ""Building an Application Framework", is more task oriented. At hour 7 we look at animated splash screens, then main menus, then help and scores screens, building forms, dialogs, and actually coding the application logic. By the end of this section you should have a good grasp of building basic Android applications.
Part III then moves on to look at using the more advanced features of a typical Android phone. Hour 13 is about working with the camera and images in general, hour 14 is on location and the remainder of the section is on networking and social features. Part IV continues the "advanced" Android theme with looking at internationalisation and the problems causes by differing hardware. Part V rounds off the book with a look at selling your app
Unlike other 24 hour books, this one is a bit more thoughtful and a bit less step-by-step. I found this a quicker way to learn than following instructions but there are readers who might be disappointed by the slightly "hands-off" approach. You need to know Java or a similar language and you will need to be reasonably happy with programming in general and XML in particular to get much from the book.
What is surprising is how little actual code there is in total. Most of the examples are very short snippets that show the feature under discussion in use. The discussion of the code is also very basic and you are expected to read the explanation of how things work, then look at the code and see that this is an expression of how things are supposed to work. For me this was a reasonable way to do the job of showing me Android code in action.
This book isn't for the complete beginner - you need to know Java and be able to build a program under your own steam. The book tells you how things work, gives you short examples and expects you to be able to fill in the missing steps - this isn't unreasonable. It isn't a step-by-step workshop type book.
If you are happy with the idea that you have to know enough to actually put the whole thing together then this is a reasonably good place to start.