Two books on Android

I have reviewed two Android books recently and now, that both are in press, I decided to write some words about the experience. The first book is Ed Burnette's Hello Android (The Pragmatic Programmers, ~22 USD).

The book is clearly written with newcomers in mind who want to produce something functional quickly. Innovative feature is the "fast forward" section at the end of each chapter. This guides the inpatient reader who don't want to read sequentially to other relevant section, much like a hypertext link. Then the book goes through the application model, user interface, 2D and 3D graphics (yes, it has a functional OpenGL example), multimedia, web programming and database issues. The book seems to concentrate on developers of UI-intensive applications, for example the Android service and content provider concepts are mentioned only shortly, meanwhile there is an abundance of UI-related examples, even advanced ones like 3D graphics. The integration of JavaScript and Java in the web programming section was a revelation for me, I did not know about the mechanism before reading the book and it is cool indeed.

The other book is Unlocking Android from Ableson, Collins and Sen (Manning, ~29$).

This book definitely has higher ambitions. It is longer than the previous one (~400 vs. ~200 pages) and expects sequential reading. Beside the usual topics, it ventures into such exotic areas like Linux-level programming in C in the Android environment. Curiously, this breadth of topics means that the Manning book deals less with UI-programming than Burnette's book (82 pages in the Burnette book vs. 62 pages in the Manning book).The Manning book does provide, however, a detailed view of Android programming model. It discusses Android services extensively and even presents, how to write a content provider (although not in detail).

To summarize, the two books follow different concepts. Burnette's book is, erm, pragmatic. It tries to make the reader productive as quickly as possible using the most common application type, the UI-intensive standalone application, with some web programming thrown in for good measure. Meanwhile, it omits a great deal of Android architecture. The Manning book builds systematically, by presenting the architectural concepts in detail. Decide yourself, which one suits you most. I enjoyed reading both.

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