Programming Book Choices For Fun
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Monday, 05 April 2021
Article Index
Programming Book Choices For Fun
Scratch Fun and Games
App Inventor

MIT App Inventor is a web-based tool for creating Android Apps. Like Scratch it is block-based and suitable for beginners of all ages. 

App Inventor 2

Authors: David Wolber, Hal Abelson, Ellen Spertus and Liz Looney
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 360
ISBN: 9781491906842

This book is co-authored by App Inventors inventors and is the top choice of book on this topic for this reason. Providing a full and comprehensive review of this book and giving it a full 5-star rating, Ian Stirk considered it to be: 

a fun book, suitable for people with or without prior programming experience, for ages 10 to 70.

The first part of the book provides consistent step-by-step tutorials on how to develop various types of app (e.g. games, quizzes, location-aware apps), which increase in complexity as the book proceeds. Each chapter ends with helpful ideas on how to extend the app, together with a useful summary. The second part of the book consolidates what has been discussed in the tutorials and provides a more technical/reference/programming approach to what has been learnt.  

Ian noted that the book contains plenty of diagrams, good explanations of the underlying concepts and useful links between chapters. He also pointed out its use of visually appealing color throughout.

Hello App Inventor!  

Authors: Paula Beer and Carl Simmons 
Publisher: Manning 
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781617291432

This book is subtitled "Android programming for kids and the rest of us", and Mike James says that App Inventor is a much overlooked graphical language for creating Android apps. It is free and is easy to use but not so easy that you wouldn't learn quickly more with the help of a book. 

Mike says there isn't much about this book to dislike, and gave it 5 stars. The book is well written, colorful and fun. Its only problem is that you might not know what App Inventor is or why it is a great way to learn to program and a great way to make Android apps without the years of learning.


Because of the way App Inventor works, the code has to be presented as diagrams of blocks put together in what look like complicated ways. If you pick up this book and look at something in the middle you might be put off because it looks difficult. If you start at the beginning, however, and work your way to the "difficult" diagram it should all make sense and you should be able to create the diagram for yourself. You really do need to start at the beginning and work through. 

The really good thing is that there are lots of projects that look exciting and aren't to difficult. This is a great book to motivate a beginner, but as you might guess from the project titles most of them are aimed at small children - adults will just have to pretend to like Hungry Spider and the rest.

A great introduction to programming for the smaller person (perhaps with the help of a larger person).

App Inventor 2 Essentials

Author: Felicia Kamriani & Krishnendu Roy
Publisher: Packt Publishing
Pages: 246
ISBN: 978-1785281105

In his review of this book Ian Stirk. which he awarded 4.5 stars, Ian Stirk explained:

App Inventor is not only a great tool for creating apps, it also provides an excellent entry point for introducing programming in general.  I would certainly recommend it as a first programming ‘language’.

He also made a pertinent comment of about choice of media saying:

Since the App Inventor development environment is very much a visual tool, involving colorful coding blocks, the color-filled eBook has the advantage over the black and white print book.

This book isn't aimed at younger readers but instead at developers new to app development and according to Ian if you want to create an app, or start programming in general, this book is a great place to start. 




What Scratch and App Inventor have in common is a graphical user interface. Processing, on the other hand, is graphics-based and intended for creating 2-d visual effects and animation.

Processing: Creative Coding and Generative Art in Processing 2

Authors: Ira Greenberg, Dianna Xu & Deepak Kumar
Publisher: Friends of Ed
Pages: 472
ISBN: 978-1430244646

Processing is a language aimed at artists and graphics people, and this book attempts to introduce the language to the complete beginner, according to David Conrad, who gave the book 4 stars.

He says that Processing is a great language that is based on Java and provides exactly what the beginner needs to get on with creating simple to intermediate programs. It strips away a lot of the "admin" details of getting a program started and it provides direct access to the sort of commands that a beginner trying things out needs and finds rewarding. 

In short, it is a great language to use to teach programming, but there are problems. Because it is so graphics based, it is very easy to focus on teaching graphics at the expense of the language and, more importantly, programming concepts.

David is clear that this book isn't for everyone. He says it seems to assume that the reader is intelligent and motivated but not a techie. As such it doesn't avoid introducing difficult ideas and it expects the reader to work at understanding what is going on. It also provides lots of motivation for learning these ideas because you can see that they are required to produce the graphics that are presented as examples.

This isn't a manual or a reference work, and this is another reason why not every reader will like the approach.  However, David's overall conclusion is that the book is fun and educational without talking down to the reader.



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Core Java for the Impatient, 3rd Ed

Authors:  Cay S. Horstmann 
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Pages: 576
ISBN: 9780138052102
Print: 0138052107
Kindle: B0B8RZZBDJ
Audience: Smart programmers wanting in-depth coverage
Rating: 4.8
Reviewer: Mike James

The key to this book is the word "impatient" in the title. What does this m [ ... ]

Software Development Pearls

Author: Karl Wiegers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0137487776
Print: 0137487770
Kindle: B09BF6CS9T
Audience: General developers
Rating: 2
Reviewer: Ian Elliot
Who can resist a good pearl or two?

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Last Updated ( Monday, 05 April 2021 )