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BOOK: Professional Android 2 Application Development
This is the forum to discuss the Wrox book Professional Android 2 Application Development, 2nd Edition by Reto Meier; ISBN: 978-0-470-56552-0
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Old May 7th, 2010, 12:42 AM
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Default May I suggest something, Reto?

Hi Reto,

I realize the title of this book is "Professional ...". And professional it is that the aspiration lies here. While as a beginner, a beginner text might have been more appropriate for me, having reviewed some beginner texts, I have to say they were not particularly great.

So I was particularly thrilled to start your book and read your explanantions in Ch. 1 & 2. However, since then I have had continuous difficulty with examples in particular. And I wanted to make some suggestions.

1. Never, never use a long-winded example spanning multiple chapters to explain essential concepts. We realize authors have a desire to demonstrate their programming skills, but the reader is merely interested in seeing a quick example demonstrating the concept at hand, not a lot of unrelated code or carry unnecessary coding baggage over multiple chapters. This is especially so when the reader starts providing different names to classes & methods that seem more natural, and then 3 chapters later there is no clarity on what relates to what. You may say that's the reader's problem, but that's how it is.

It is not particularly difficult - all we are dealing with is a little bit of java, some resources and a manifest. Compact, Complete, Relevant, Functioning examples would be so much more useful. Just think of the man hours of reader time being saved in the process.

2. Break up your chapters into smaller chunks. Your chapters might more suitably be sections, with smaller units focused on *complete* explanations and *compact, complete, functioning* examples of key concepts.

3. Never, ever introduce new classes, methods or concepts in your code, and then say, ok, we will be talking about this in detail a little later... Its so incredibly annoying. At least provide a 1-liner description on each new class, method or concept that can keep the reader going.

4. Because of what at least I feel is the convoluted approach on examples, it is natural that there are so many typos, bugs, whatever. If you follow point 1 above, you yourself will be able to ensure that the concept examples work together.

5. What exactly is the purpose of the technical reviewer?

Perhaps I am wrong in my assessment. Please read this as from someone trying his best to appreciate your book.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 08:18 AM
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Hi,
Thanks for your feedback, it's always useful to learn how people have used the book and how their experience might have been improved.

The choice to use examples that spanned multiple chapters was a conscious one. Many developers (myself included!) prefer to have full, working applications as examples rather than simple examples demonstrating only the concept at hand. I find this is particularly the case for Android, as the Android Developer site is full of great articles, tutorials, and sample code that provides exactly the sort of compact, concise examples you're after.

The book aims to provide a more narrative approach to learning Android, where each chapter builds on previous knowledge to gradually create a better, more functional application. My preferred way of learning a new language or platform is to dive into a working application and tinker with it, the larger examples used in the book are my attempt to deliver a similar experience.

I understand your frustration with "I'll talk about this later" moments. I tried to keep these to a minimum, but unfortunately at some points it was impossible to present a useful, working application without making use of some features that hadn't yet been explained.

The typos and bugs in the text are unfortunate and a result of my own carelessness rather than a side-effect of the structure of the book or any failings on the part of anyone else involved in the project.

I hope that despite your concerns you found the book useful. If you do have any further questions don't hesitate to ask.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 11:53 PM
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Thanks Reto, for replying.

Let me assure you that your book is a very good one and I am very glad to have it. Your textual explanations are excellent. The topics coverage seems very systematic. Your book seems perfectly appropriate for someone unfamiliar with the technology to start from scratch and build 'professional' and useful apps.

I would continue to strengthen on the structure of the examples though, given their value in generating confidence for someone starting out with the technology. One suggestion is to place the entire completed code for the projects (manifest, resource files, classes) in a single place in the text itself, maybe as an appendix, though that may increase the book size by many pages. Providing file names for each new file serves to reduces uncertainty.

I did view the Developer site explanations and examples, they are surprisingly decent. Perhaps some patience is needed in picking up what is after all a new platform & framework, with components, terminologies, mechanisms etc that are not of trivial complexity. I think a second read of the book will put everything in perfect perspective.

Thanks for your good efforts!
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