jueves, 25 de octubre de 2012

Review of O'Reilly's "Drupal for Designers", by Dani Nordin

10:19 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios


This time I'm into Drupal, the opensource CMS of choice. Based on the usual xAMP stack (that means, anyOS capable of running Apache, MySQL and PHP would do), it's a very powerful web system that runs on some of the most viewed sites on the Web (The Economist, the White House... there're plenty of web examples here). However, getting to that maturity level takes some time and effort, and that's where Dani Nordin's book fits in.


Dani is a Drupal Designer (all capitals) working as a freelancer and her own business called the zen kitchen who has a lot of experience (and very valuable contacts) in the Drupal world. That's where she has taken the stuff to write this book as well as three more (published by O'Reilly, here). Doing so guarantees all the things see wrote in the book are accurate and (most of them) to the point.

The book covers Drupal 7, but some of the chapters can be applied to Drupal 6 if you are into the old version. I've found it a very enjoyable reading, I like Dani's writing since it seems personal and "real, not talking about things that seem "too niche". This might be just because we are talking here about a system that anyone can set up in their own desktop or laptop, even virtualized (there are many VMs around free to download to play with, for example: Quickstart or BitNami) or then download a proper DAMP (Acquia's or others) to avoid the virtualization blues. Dani covers the setup process with great detail on the book, anyway.
On to the book then. I've found it very interesting, covering subjects that the reader will need to know about one moment or another. It is however a bit of a "mixed bag" of things, ranging from plain Drupal installation and setup tasks all the way through Project Proposal's recommendations. As such, it is a book I think I will keep close as reference since Dani's clear language helps understanding many different project's tasks. I missed a bit a complete step by step Drupal project description, however. Dani touches some tasks of a couple different projects in the book, but none of them are fully reviewed (I mean, from the Content Type definition steps all the way up to the first steps of data loading). However, here and there the book offers most of the process' steps any designer (plus developer? solo team?) must perform to create a nice Drupal site:
  • There are chapters (with doc samples, thanks a lot Dani!) covering Project Proposals and "how to deal with customers" recommendations (chapters 20 and 21)
  • Also, some deal with the Discovery Phase (2) with a practical chapter (4)
  • Others with the User Experience and Wireframing design phase (imho 3 and 5)
  • Then jumps into the tools needed or recommended for a Drupal development environment (8)
  • Drupal-only tool Drush (chapter 9). But also Drush Make and installation profiles are covered on chapter 19
  • Git (chapter 10), covered with enough detail
  • Some chapters cover the layout and themes (6 and 16). A practice on Layout design using Fireworks is provided too (chapter 7).
  • There is a practical chapter dedicated to propotyping in Drupal (12) that talks on Content and Content Types.
  • Into development duties, Modules (13) and Views (chapters 14 and 15)
  • CSS and the Less tool are covered with detail on chapter 17. Dani recommends the use of Responsive Design, so Omega theme lovers will be at ease here (I do!).
  • One chapter deals with setting up all the Drupal environment, but mix with with setting up some Modules with Drush (chapter 12). I would have divided this into two: one before chapter 8 and another after chapter 13. I think it would have been clearer.
  • There is also a chapter that deals with Features (chapter 18), I understand Dani's idea was to link it with chapter's 19 Installation profiles as the path to follow when migrating Drupal environments from Development to Test and finally into Production servers.
  • Finally, the last chapters talks about Retrospectives and their value (22)

That's a lot! Concepts such as Agile, Retrospective, Responsive Design, version control... tools like Drush, Less, Git... all "flavoured" with Drupal. Yummy! :D Furthermore, Dani adds here and there some "interviews" with colleagues from the Drupal community with varied topics, related to the chapter where they are inserted. Some of them provide some value, others are just informational. It's a nice personal touch that she adds to the book anyway, and somehow makes the read more enjoyable.
As said, I've learned a lot with this book (and not just with it but also with the "informational pointers" provided, such as the norwegian folks from NodeOne which I strongly recommend you to know about if you are into Drupal), and though sometimes I've felt a bit like "missing the path" I recommend its read to those who feel like they know about Drupal but want to become real experts on it.
Finally, reviewing the TOCs of the other Dani's books seems like those cover some of the themes that this one does in deeper detail, maybe that's just what I need now:

miércoles, 12 de septiembre de 2012

Review of O'Reilly's "Civic Apps Competition Handbook"

13:35 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

I decided to read this short (77 pages) handbook just for the simple reason that I am interested in Open Government/Data and Apps, so the mix always rings a bell.

The handbook is a concise read written by Kate Eyler-Werve and Virginia Carlson based on their experiences running the Apps for Metro Chicago contest.
Filled with advices and, best of all, common sense judgements (do you really need a huge budget to run a valuable contest? where does the real value of the contest reside?) that can be taken home. All it takes to read it is just more than an afternoon, but the way it is organized (7 chapters, starting on the ROI elements of a CAC contest and finishing on how to build on top of any contest's outcome) is so logical that all the main aspects that must be known in order to run a CAC contest (or any software-related contest, to be honest) are covered.

A read I recommend if you are into CAC or want to push on the use of Open Government in your community. (Just don't expect to find a plethora of ideas for your next killer-app, though! ;).

jueves, 30 de agosto de 2012

Review for O'Reilly's "Where Conference 2012: The Business of Location: Complete Video Compilation"

11:21 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

I know, I know: I am late. By the time I've written this post most of the stuff shown at O'Reilly's Where Conference (OWC from now on for short) will be well known... Or not? This maaaaaaaasive video collection boasts for almost 47 hours of pure knowledge. Want to know about Location? This is the place!

123 videos will cover each and every aspect of using Location technologies in any software application (mobile - mostly - or not): from the basics of library and APIs usage to the usage of the location capabilities to reach your market and sell more.

I have to admit that so far I haven't been able to see all the videos... that's a  huge task! Having become first-time father lately it's a bit difficult for me to find those times when I could just relax and watch technical videos 100% focused on them :) However, given the numerous different videos and their length, there's always some moments one can find.

IMHO, the compilation is very very good. Is as close as one can get to physically being there (oh, and by the way, I'd love to!). The technical quality of the videos is very good: lighting, sound, camera focus, etc. are great. And the guys know their business: most (though not all, we are humans after all) f the public's questions are repeated by the speakers on the mic, so we (the ones on this side of the screen) can understand them clearly. So, this aspect gets 5 starts from me.

Now, to the proper content itself. It's soooo varied (even though all the talks are related to using Location in software) that it's somehow difficult to give it a unique rating. Some of the videos are great (like "Putting Place in Social, Putting Social in It's place" from the Google folks, or "Prototyping Location Apps With Big Data" by Matt Biddulph), whilst others just don't make the mark (the PhoneGap's talks, the guy from Dwolla -again, the chap is more ubiquous than Google :D-, the lady from Paypal - pure marketing *cough*!, etc.).

These are some of my notes on a bunch of videos:
Native vs HTML5 & an Argument to Incorporate Both - Bo Fishback and Eric Koester
Folks from Zaarly talk about their progress from Html5 to native... With some bits of html. It depends on the funnels of user acquisition, the response is not (in most cases) as good in HTML5 as others. They've used their web site to test new User eXperience tricks, that if tested ok would make it to their native apps.
So, their point is: take as much as possible from both worlds!

The New Age of Interactive Marketing: Creating One to One Relationships with Mobile - Dorrian Porter
Dorrian Porter from Mozes, Inc gives the marketing company view on how the new technologies (smart-located devices) can help marketing companies fill up our life with personalized "just for you" ads... Nothing very new here, but somehow scared me as to how much they'll be able to flood us with marketing :)

Hey Startups, SoLoMoCo is No Longer 'Emerging'. Stop Acting Like It Is - Mike Schneider
Mike Schneider, @ScheinderMike -talking perhaps a bit "as if in a hurry" although maybe it was fine since the talk was early morning- gives a very "felt" talk on how startups should use SoLoMoCo to get profile data, since that is what can and has to be sold to marketers! I agree, it's no longer of interest to know how many users you have, but how they are, and that's where SoLoMoCo really can help, startups must have as best APIs to provide that data as possible, and that's a great value.  Another great advice: don't go for check ins, go for natural flow and get the data from it.

HTML5: Advanced data visualization with Google Maps API - Josh Livni and Brendan Kenny
Josh Livni and Brendan Kenny from Google show some code! How to use WebGL to benefit using graphics cards from HTML5 to be able to present a big amount of data in a very fast and interactive way. They expose some very interesting examples on top of maps, along with some tricks to load data. A bit long but interesting video.
Note: this doesn't apply on mobile, though... It runs, but at 4fps... 
A Deep Dive Into Using The HTML5 GeoLocation API with PhoneGap - Steven Gill 
Well, to be honest I believe those two videos are very poor, I expected much more. They provide very few content on using the mapping API with PhoneGap. Luckily there's very good content of the subject that can be found in the web.

Hunch Global: Mining and Visualizing the Local Search Taste Graph - Harold Cooper 
Well, this is a very interesting talk. Pity it just shows what Hunch can achieve but doesn't get into what's behind (hard, soft, platforms...). But makes a very good point showing that Location is the "core" and user's preferences the "engine" that runs Hunch.
Prototyping Location Apps With Big Data - Matt Biddulph
Tries to show how to incorporate data analysis with Hadoop and Pig into any aplication. It gets to the point of it, but becomes a bit too "intense": good for the ones that can follow the talk (knowledgeable on AWS, Hadoop, Pig...), but the rest (I include myself) can get lost on the way.
Building Imaginary Worlds: SketchUp and Custom Street View - Mano Marks and Adam Hecht
Didn't like this one too much...  They talk about Google SketchUp, the tool they use to create 3D models (for example to be used in Google Earth), how to model a warehouse, etc. Given that this has nothing to do (directly) with location, seems like free marketing stuff for Google...
Case Study Paypal - Elena Krasnoperova
Focused on mobile location payment. She shows some apps using Paypal as payment platform, like  Toysrus. But not a single detail on how it's done, or best uses or anything interesting for that matter. And then some "show off" of their new payment app...  that  is said to geolocate surrounding merchants... Not worth watching, tbh.

Putting Place in Social, Putting Social in It's place - Mano Marks Google, Julia Ferraioli, Google
This is a very good talk on Google+ and Google Maps. How to get geolocated data from any Google+ profile, clustering or segmentation, why and how use GPS data via web (PC) is less accurate than GPS device, etc. They show very basic Javascript embedding of the GoogleMaps API. Also the use of the Google+ Platform: Public data API, RESTful calls giving JSON answers; key based or Oauth2. They carry on with their definition of an Activity (user's action). The Google+ Developers site has all the info available. They also show some Plugins (with a brief "free-promo" on Google+ buttons...) and how to use Google Hangouts: some promo on the hangouts and then show a Hangout App done in HTML/CSS/JavaScript.

Data and algorithm driven commerce - Mok Oh , Paypal
Unexpectedly nice talk. Mok shows that Data + Science&Algorithms is the way to go. Funny statement he makes: "Data, data, Everywhere…. but not a byte to eat". The figures are massive: there are 200 Million online transactions per month on Internet, and that's increasing.
He doesn't focus on location at the beginning, till he shows some demos: watching black friday on a map of US online transactions is a real flash! :D He shows as well a globe with dynamic Paypal transactions through the world, very interesting.
For Mok, Data Science is still on v. 1.5, neither 1.0 (that is the analysis and algorithm phase),  nor the 2.0 (the would-be big boom-social)
Basically states that DATA is VALUABLE, is one of your company's values. And invest in a data scientist is a necessity.

New Lines on the horizon - Josh Williams, Facebook
Josh shows how location evolved in the Facebook platform. First location was a tag that you could add to anything in FB. Now it's been added to their OpenGraph and TimeLine features. Given that they say to get 2 billion monthly locations, seems logical.
He mentions that FB plans to augment their OpenGraph, Place editing API and geo-coding and reverse geo-coding capabilities in the near term.
How open is open? Five years later…. - Ian White, Urban Mapping Inc
Well, Ian explains the whole history about his legal issues getting location data of the NY Underground… My God, it's somehow hard to believe nowadays that those things happened... and still do in some places (yes, some european places I mean).
Then he explains interesting examples of strange privatization process of public data: all public data that is given to private companies to be made publicly available... only to become privatized in some way so developers (or others) have to pay to use them. Ian resumes the "Privatization of public data": there are two ways to be open, one like "open sesame", open door, etc. vs. open as a clinched fist.

Platform, APIs and Apps: Building the "where" ecosystem - Gary Gale, Nokia
This talk is a must watch. Nokia believes completely that Location is a must. And people has many devices, so the need multiplies by a factor. The use of location data is to identify patterns and trends: know your customers/users.
Nokia has created what they call "The Where platform": one of the biggest assets of Nokia; and why this video is worth watching.

Reference Data + Activity Data = Smart Data
The Where Platform has lots of API, already available. In Q1 2012 they had 4.6 Billion hits per month! Their commitment is that they can provide their mapping and location services on all kinds of screens: HTML5 is the solution.
Some customers of their platform:

The Places API has already over 75 million places registered, and can be used straight away as a Web Service!
All the info can be found at developer.nokia.com/maps

StreetEasy's Stack - Sebastian Delmont, StreetEasy.com
StreetEasy is a real estate search service for NY, with 22M+ views per month…
Sebastian gets into the details of how they migrated their infrastructure from GoogleMaps to OpenStreetMaps. How they created their own maps, very interesting if looking for ways to create your own maps with OpenStreetMaps platform: TileMill, MapBox,… One key giveaway: you must use an abstraction layer, for example Mapstraction on the Javascript side or some abstraction layer on the server side.

Uber's Stack - Curtis Chambers, Uber
Uber is an on demand transportation service. Curtis details how to architect a location-based web service: mongo, node.js, phyton, javascript… 

Twitter's Stack - Raffi Krikorian, Twitter
Geolocated tweets, geolocated POIs in the US… Very complex and fast explanation of (just) the infrastructure that supports RockDove: the service inside Twitter that deals with all location data: RubyOnRails, Cassandra, Lucene……

GeoIQ's Stack - Andrew Turner, GeoIQ CTO
Try to solve three things: how to Acces, Visualize and Analyze data.
They support a platform called geocommons.com that anybody can use. It's a VM that can scale up to Cloud as needed. Another really complete and powerful stack: RubyonRails for the core platform spatial data ETL, Lucene and Solr for index, PostgreSQL for spatial data management, Mapnik for map rendering, Modestmaps and Polymaps for front end, AcctionScript and Appcelerator for mobile, Node.js and MongoDB for streaming, workers Ruby and OpenSource GeoStack, and Hadoop in some cases.
OpenStandards: REST; GeoJSON; OAuth, LDAP, OpenSearch-Geo…


Gaming Reality - Will Wright, Stupid Fun Club
This guy worked on SimCity! :D
Games use maps-location, but also it could use the player's locations to focus on the player. 
A smartphone is like Star Trek's tricorder, haha!! Will tries to expose the way from "augmented reality" to "blended reality", where geolocation is a must. 
Nice touch as well by showing some Startups in the "Startups showcases". Some where a bit basic (at least what they exposed) but others where interesting. I'm curious to see what they can become in the future (close one, hopefully! :).

If you, like me, think that Location-based services, apps and software are one of the "next big things" in IT, this video compilation will have your mind flooded with ideas and knowledge so you'll get excited to use it in your next project.

Note: found some minor issues with the links though, some links to download videos wrongly pointed to other videos instead. Maybe O'Reilly folks can double check the links on the product's page ;) Thanks!

Note2: You can find most of the presentations' slides and some of the Videos available for free here: http://whereconf.com/where2012/public/schedule/proceedings

viernes, 17 de agosto de 2012

SSD OCZ Agillity3 en MacBook Pro 13 (2011)

8:55 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Incorporar un SSD a un MBP es uno de los upgrades más interesantes que he visto, y siendo de naturaleza curiosa, me animé a hacerlo. Escribo este post como breve reseña de los pasos con los que conseguí que funcionara, no tanto de la parte de conexiones y tornillería (para eso ya hay muchos buenos por ahí), sino del funcionamiento en OS X Mountain Lion, que no fue tan sencillo como pensaba.
Compré un SSD OCZ Agility 3 http://www.ocztechnology.com/ en MercadoActual (el precio más barato y la primera vez que compraba; sorprendido gratamente por su rapidez y buen servicio, muy recomendable). Además, ya que no quería perder el SuperDrive y necesitaba montar el SSD en una plataforma para ponerlo en el Mac, compré vía Amazon un pack con lo necesario (esto sí me pareció caro, pero es lo que hay... Amazon). Con todo listo, y mis archivos más "sagrados" a buen recaudo en una copia de seguridad) abro el Mac para empezar el trasteo.
Bien, en muchos sitios he visto que la gente cambia el HDD (abajo a la izquierda de la foto) por el SSD y monta el HDD en la plataforma para sustituir al SuperDrive (arriba a la izquierda). Yo no quería hacerlo, en mi caso no he comprado un SSD para cambiarlo por el HDD porque sea lento (no me lo parece, al menos aún...), sino que en el SSD quiero meter mis máquinas virtuales (W8, W7, XP, Linux de colores...) por lo que pensaba que simplemente cambiar el SuperDrive por el SSD sería más sencillo. Manos a la obra; hay que tener mucho cuidado con no perder tornillos, mover los cables lo menos posible y en la desconexión/conexión de los cables SATA a la placa base (las tiras negras que se ven en la foto). Y también que no se meta ninguna "mierdilla" en el Mac, porque estando todo como está de "ajustado" vete a saber qué pasaría... El cambio es cuestión de unos 30-40 minutos, yendo con cuidado.
Hecho esto cerramos y reiniciamos y comprobamos que el OS X reconoce el SSD (o podemos comprobar antes de cerrar, como os apetezca).
¡Listo! pensé, Disk Utility informa de un medio no reconocido, "Inicializar..." ... y aquí empiezan los problemas.  No había manera de que el Mac OS X reconociera y formateara como debía el nuevo SSD. Y sin embargo estaba ahí, y estaba bien (SMART perfecto):
Bueno, tocaba investigar. Durante un par de días intenté de todo Disk Utility, diskutility (desde el terminal), todo lo que encontré por Google, StackExchange, los foros de Apple (sirven para algo?),  un montón de "utilidades" de pago que no sirven para nada (iPartition, DriveGenius, Drive Wizard, DiskTools Pro..)... utilidades de Trim mode que tampoco hacen nada... En fin, cuando ya empezaba a estar desesperado pensando que iba a tener que volver a abrir el Mac y cambiar el SSD por el HDD (aquello de lo que hablaba al principio, ¿recordáis?... Maldito Murphy) ya que en todos las páginas que encontraba decían que es la única manera en que un SSD puede funcionar en OS X, pasé por las páginas de OCZ Technologies. Allí tienen medio escondida entre un montón de cosas, una pequeña utilidad para discos SSD basada en Linux. En la guía de esa herramienta hay otro enlace que lleva a la guía para Firmware Update de los SSD en Mac. ¿A que no es fácil de encontrar?...
Bueno, pues lo intenté, ¿por qué no? Al fin y al cabo otra prueba... Flasheamos un USB, arrancar... y con un ratón USB (el Trackpad no va en esa versión de Windows) puede empezar a hacer cosas:

  • Firmare Update: comienza... y al 7% da error. No sé si porque ya tenía la última versión, o por lo que sea, pero el caso es que no llega al 100%
  • Bandwith Fix: instalado
  • Apple Fix: instalado
Sin mucha convicción reinicio... OS X reconoce el disco como sin formatear, aplico el formato... ¡y funciona!!!!! Por fin tengo mi SSD en uso como es debido!
 En definitiva, no sé cual de los tres pasos es el que soluciona el problema (quizá actualizar al 7% es suficiente? :) pero sólo con la utilidad de OCZ se puede usar el SSD Agility 3 correctamente en Mac OS X.
 Por si sirve a alguien ;)

martes, 14 de agosto de 2012

Consejos de un emprendedor para tener éxito con un VC

9:20 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Entre los muchos consejos que hoy en día se pueden encontrar por la red de todo tipo sobre cómo tener éxito con las reuniones con los VC para capitalizar una Start-up, he encontrado esta entrevista con Nick Smoot de @HereOnBiz que me ha parecido interesante y por eso lo comparto. No porque los consejos sean especiales o únicos, sino porque son básicos, muy lógicos y relativamente fáciles de llevar a cabo.

En la entrevista, de Anthill Magazine Online, Nick Smoot da 3+1 consejos que ellos han usado para lograr su ronda de capitalización con los VC de Silicon Valley. Son los siguientes:

  1. Know your mark: Conoce a quién te diriges. Saber todo lo posible sobre la empresa/VC/persona con la que quieres contactar te ayudará a encontrar puntos en común donde poder incidir y desarrollar una relación. Ten en cuenta que lograr la participación de un VC en tu proyecto es como hacer un nuevo "muy mejor amigo Bubba" en palabras de Forrest Gump (y recuerda, Forrest se montó en el dólar con Bubba). Así que todo lo que puedas conocer de antemano (perfil, empresas en las que ha invertido, intereses, qué opina de esa nueva gran tecnología en la que le quieres hacer participar...) va a ser material que puedes usar para ayudarte en esa relación.
  2. Play dumb, ask for help: Pide su ayuda. Recuerda, aunque creas que no el VC ya está ahí antes que tú. Quiero decir que sabe (o cree saber) mucho más de tu mercado, tu producto, y tu idea.. que tú. Pero si consigues que te ayude, seguro que entre los dos lograréis hacer un proyecto mucho más competitivo. No te muestres superior a nadie (eso sería un error fundamental; ni Zuckerberg iba de "pollo listo del corral" al principio...), necesitas ayuda de todos (y especialmente de los VCs) para lograr tu meta.
  3. Go above and beyond: Haz más de lo esperado, y luego más todavía. Puede que la relación con VC implique hacer algún trabajo o muestra de tu capacidad para él. Puede ser un "entragable" (una aplicación, un objeto, una herramienta...) o un documento (un análisis, una propuesta, una evaluación del mercado...). Sea lo que sea, da lo mejor de ti que puedas. Aunque no te paguen, Aunque creas que tu tiempo vale € y se los están llevando gratis... Da igual. ¡Hazlo siempre excelentemente! Ten en cuenta que en función de ese trabajo puede salir el proyecto adelante. Mantén eso siempre en tu mente y te ayudará a trabajar con toda la calidad que puedes dar.
Y un "extra":

  • Be social. Esto no lo traduzco ;) Nick destaca este aspecto como lo primero. Es cierto, nunca sabes qué o quién va a darte esa oportunidad que buscas para sacar adelante tu proyecto. Así que siempre tienes que estar ahí, ser social, contactar, ser contactado, compartir ideas, conocer las de los demás, hablar de experiencias, etc. A mí a veces se me olvida... quizá por eso he escrito este post :D
Bueno, pues ahí está todo. En mi caso particular no he conocido muchos VCs (o Business Angels, o Inversores,o llámalo como quieras), pero estoy seguro de que con Luis Martín Cabiedes nos hubiera ido mucho mejor si hubiésemos trabajado los puntos 1 y 2 mucho mejor. Quizá con eso habríamos llegado al punto 3 y ¡quién sabe dónde estaríamos ahora!

jueves, 14 de junio de 2012

Mobile Emulators & Simulators: The Ultimate Guide

19:50 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

Great post by Maximiliano Firtman listing each and every single mobile emulator that exists (well, if not all, almost!) and how to install them. Unvaluable stuff I had to keep for my records!
Mobile Emulators & Simulators: The Ultimate Guide

miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2012

How Scott Rafer met the co-founders of MyBlogLog on LinkedIn

16:44 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios


This is an interesting video on how Scott Rafer, a "serial entrepeneur", found funding through LinkedIn... Maybe it finally has a use! :D

martes, 8 de mayo de 2012

Review of “Beginning PhoneGap”

19:58 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

 

Ok, the title says “Beginning…” but even so, not a book I’d buy

 

Beginning PhoneGapBeing interested for various reasons on all that HTML5 can bring to the mobile world, and in particular on the PhoneGap framework I had just discovered, I read this book with some expectations, looking for it to become my reference on the subject, for any attempts I might try out or any questions on the subject I could receive.

I found much more complete and accurate the proper PhoneGap’s (or Nitobi’s, or whoever) information available on the web. The examples there and the ones provided by the book are quite similar, but the ones on the web have the added benefit of being correct and up-to-date. That’s something that although I understand the book can’t accomplish I’d have least expected it not so have so many typos here and there. The code fails in some places, the explanation others… well, at least they have got assured that the reader pays close attention, otherwise she will be completely lost!

Ok, based on my notes here are some things that I found particularly weak:

  • PhoneGap for Android setup, not very clearly covered. I presume the one for iOS is ok, but this (the one I know about) seemed really poor.
  • The examples on events are very much the same repeated “n” times with some minor changes, not big differences between them. So, why not go through an example covering all (or a batch of) them altogether? Would have seemed logical.
  • The exercises on page 100 are a good point on the book’s side. +1 here
  • Typos here and there, incomplete code (some missing function calls), calls to wrongly named functions,…. Maybe  was I reading the “draft” version I wonder?
  • Missing or weak examples, for instance what could the magnetometer be used for? Or address access through the Contacts list. More info about FileTransfer, something that most developers will use one time or another. Or more valuable info added, such as links to where up-to-date information could be found.
  • Using “Final App listing” nowadays just seems like filling stuff, they don’t give any value since you can download the code from the book’s site (IMHO).
    Furthermore with the complete Phonegap.js listing… what for?
  • Wouldn’t it had been much more interesting to show a complete App creation process with PhoneGap? Basic implementation, event management, device capabilities, notifications… a 360% approach, much more valuable than a mere “show and tell” list of examples.

So, honestly I can’t recommend this book. I have been really disappointed with it and suppose will fall in my “not read again” stack. Sorry.

miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2012

Review of “Introduction to iOS Programming: From Getting the SDK to Submitting Your First App”

13:11 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

From zero to publishing in less than 2 hours

It’s been a while since my last post, due to some work outburst. Nevertheless I had a lot of interest in watching this video from O’Reilly author Alasdair Allan because I am (was?) a complete ignorant on native iOS development.  The video, about 1:45 hours long in total, covers the whole development process of any iOS based application. As the video’s subtitle states, Alasdair guides us from the very basic steps like registering on Apple’s Development platform, downloading the required SDKs and setting them up, etc. all the way to publishing our very first App on the Apple Store.

 

This is done whilst creating our first iOS/iPhone app, on a Mac. So, after the first steps we will be watching code being typed to create the app. For those already versatile in Objective-C this will be “piece of cake”. For the rest of us it takes some time to get used to the mechanics and interface so as to be able to follow Alasdair’s work, but once you get used to it, it’s not that hard.

 

There is no detail on how to develop UIs for apps, nor in-depth how to code with Objective-C (btw, who was the devil that created that monster? Bit ugly, IMHO), but this video is not the place to look for that info nor it should be. However, Alasdair makes a “stop” trying to explain how to code with Objective-C, which turns out to be somehow hard to follow although it is just a basic approach to the language. This “aside” is not really efficient on its purpose, but must be praised for the effort and some may welcome it.

 

The quality overall is good though I found two glitches on it:

- the sound sometimes is a bit too low, and given most of the people watching it will use a mobile device nowadays to do so this can be a bit annoying as listening Alasdair is difficult sometimes.

- and second, sometimes Alasdair gets into some small “stopping point” because of code failures or development interface nuisances. These he manages to solve, but sometimes it feels a bit wrong watching “undo time”.

 

All in all, a good video on the complete procedure of start-to-publish your iOS apps that any newcomer to Apple’s development restrictive world will benefit from. Maybe some “freebies” such as sample code and worksheets would have provided it better value. You can find the product here.

 

3/5