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Murach's Android Programming

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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 946
Author/s    : Joel Murach
Publisher   : Mike Murach & Associates
Category   : Web design, HTML and JavaScript
Review by : Jeanne Boyarsky
Rating        : 9 horseshoes

"Murach's Android Programming" follows the style we've come to expect from a Murach book. One side of the page is text description. The other is images, tables and bullet points. This approach lets them deliver on the same book being for both training and reference.

The only pre-requisite listed for reading the book is basic Java. This is true - the book explains everything else - XML, databases, etc. Chapter 1 moves fast to give an overview, but the book circles back and covers everything in depth.

I particularly liked the parts on how to debug and use the emulator. There was very strong coverage of core concepts throughout. I liked that the database overview covered SQL injection. The screens of layouts and widgets were a good use of pictures.

The only thing that didn't feel smooth to me was that I couldn't find a picture of a D-Pad. Or rather I couldn't find one that was labeled that way. (The first reference to a D-Pad was on page 54.) This is minor and it's good when your biggest gripe about a book is something trivial!

"Murach's Android Programming" is a great way to learn how to write your first Android app. You'll get started quickly and then have a reference when you need idioms or how-to's for that app and later ones.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

More info at Amazon.com
Kent O. Johnson
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Joined: Feb 21, 2013
Posts: 32
So, Jeanne, I really only know basic Java, a little bit of XML, PHP, a modicum about databases and the Hibernate ORM, and a small bit about Spring. Do you think this is the right book for me at this point? I really am a beginner.

Kent
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31057
    
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Kent,
I think so. It really depends on what you mean to be "basic" Java. If it means you just know how to write an if statement, the book is too advanced. If you know how to read a Java class, instance variables and subclassing, you'll be just fine.


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Kent O. Johnson
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Joined: Feb 21, 2013
Posts: 32
Jeanne,
By being able to read a Java class do you mean the ability to understand class architecture, such as methods, variables, and scope?
By subclassing do you mean inheritance?
And by instance variables do you mean making instances of objects, like "MyObject = new GenericObject();"?

I think I understand those concepts well enough to understand the book. What did you do to learn the basics, Jeanne?
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31057
    
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Kent,
Yes. You know the basics from your confirmation of what I meant.

I learned the basics of Java by reading a book (in 1999) and writing code. And I learned the basics of programming in Pascal and C++ before that so a lot of it wasn't new. (I graduated high school in 1999.)
Kent O. Johnson
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Joined: Feb 21, 2013
Posts: 32
Well, great, I feel I am in a good position to understand the book. Winning the book from that promotion was pretty awesome! I also got Murach's Java programming book and it should be here by Tuesday according to Amazon.
I think the main thing is that I need to start writing a significant amount of code.
Mentors really help me progress much faster than I would without wise, experienced instruction so I hope I find a few here. I have connections to a few people already who can coach me through things and I'm sure the Ranch will be more than helpful for me as I read the two books and ask questions.

Thank you for your remarks and for posting your book review here.
Jaikiran Pai
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Joined: Jul 20, 2005
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Kent O. Johnson wrote:
Mentors really help me progress much faster than I would without wise, experienced instruction so I hope I find a few here. I have connections to a few people already who can coach me through things and I'm sure the Ranch will be more than helpful for me as I read the two books and ask questions.



The ranch is certainly the best place to learn Java. Our Beginning Java and Java In General mainly cater to such audience. We also have Cattle Drive where you get assigned nitpickers while learning Java. Of course, Cattle Drive is a paid service http://www.javaranch.com/drive/about.jsp


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Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 946
Review by : Greg Charles
Rating        : 8 horseshoes

Murach's Android Programming is a good introductory course to Android development. Its style is dry and matter-of-fact, and lacks the visual punch of something like the "Heads First" series, or the conversational tone of various other texts. However, it is clear and accurate, and the many downloadable examples are well integrated into the text, which makes it easy to follow along and try out the techniques as they are presented.

Mr. Murach assumes basic to intermediate Java programming abilities, but otherwise the prerequisites for this book are very low. In addition to covering Android specific topics, he gives thorough explanations of how to set up and use Eclipse, how to work with XML files, and even about event handling and listeners. Seasoned developers will find themselves skimming some of the early sections, but that is certainly better than being lost.

I was disappointed with the Eclipse tooling for Android development and found it very difficult to work with. That's hardly the fault of this text, but I would have liked to see more coverage of alternate tools or at least clearer explanations of how the Eclipse tools are organized, and some discussion of known bugs and advice for workarounds.

In short, this book will get you from no knowledge of Android to being able to write moderately complex apps and deploy them to Android devices. It won't be the only book you'll read if you decide on an Android career, but it will set you down the path.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

More info at Amazon.com
Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 946
Review by : Mohamed Sanaulla
Rating        : 10 horseshoes

Murach's books are more oriented towards practical learning and this one's no different. The book covers the topics in an order and has grouped topics in accordance to their level of complexity and use. The author has chosen appropriate examples to explain these different groups of topics. The examples are not mere use this component that component and print out something, instead they are quite useful and closer to real-world applications.

This is a complete guide to Android programming and I would strongly suggest anyone who wants to learn Android programming to pick this book. The screenshots showing the application layout, IDE options are all very clear. Also there is a very clear appendix which I found to be really useful to setup your Android Development environment. I found the state diagram explaining the states of an Activity to be very clear and it didn't require me to read anything more to understand it.

This book though assumes that you are already familiar with Java, so if you want to learn Java you can pick Murach's Java Programming or any other famous books like Head First Java.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

More info at Amazon.com
Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 946
Review by : Rob Spoor
Rating        : 8 horseshoes

"Murach's Android Programming" is a good introduction into Android programming. The book requires only basic Java knowledge, and it shows at times. The book sometimes spends a bit too much time explaining code snippets that should be clear for anyone experienced in Java.

The chapters discuss several controls and techniques, using good example apps. Unlike the previous Android book I read this book doesn't stop at the UI, but also explains how to write back-ground services and listen to broadcast events. After reading this book you will be able to write small-scale programs without much trouble.

That said, there are two things that annoyed me about this book:
1) When discussing releasing apps, the book mentions several billing options but then only descrives publishing free applications. When referring to in-app billing or adds, the book literally says "To learn how to add XXX to your app, you can start by searching for "XXX" in the Android documentation". I expected a bit more coverage for these topics. The book might as well not even mentioned the possibilities.
2) The first 16 chapters discuss several topics for creating apps. Chapter 17 then discusses publishing these apps, only for chapter 18 to follow with another possible feature to apps (map support). It's like "you now can create and publish any app you want. Oh wait, here's one thing we forgot". Chapter 18 doesn't refer to chapter 17 in any way, so it wouldn't have been hard to swap the two around. That way, the book first discusses all technical aspects followed by publishing. That would have made more sense to me.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

More info at Amazon.com
 
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