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App Inventor [Paperback]

David Wolber , Hal Abelson , Ellen Spertus , Liz Looney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 13 2011 1449397484 978-1449397487 1

Yes, you can create your own apps for Android phones—and it's easy to do. This extraordinary book introduces App Inventor for Android, a powerful visual tool that lets anyone build apps for Android-based devices. Learn the basics of App Inventor with step-by-step instructions for more than a dozen fun projects, such as creating location-aware apps, data storage, and apps that include decision-making logic.

The second half of the book features an Inventor's manual to help you understand the fundamentals of app building and computer science. App Inventor makes an excellent textbook for beginners and experienced developers alike.

  • Design games and other apps with 2D graphics and animation
  • Create custom multi-media quizzes and study guides
  • Create a custom tour of your city, school, or workplace
  • Use an Android phone to control a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robot
  • Build location-aware apps by working with your phone’s sensors
  • Explore apps that incorporate information from the Web
  • Learn computer science as you build your apps

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About the Author

David Wolber is the Chair of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco, and teaches App Inventor in a course at USF. He worked with the App Inventor team, and authored the advanced tutorials found on the App Inventor site. The apps created by his students– mostly humanities and business majors with no prior programming experience–have been chronicled in articles of The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Tech Crunch,, and Yahoo News.

Harold (Hal) Abelson, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, has a longstanding interest in using computation as a conceptual framework in teaching. He has played a key role in fostering MIT institutional educational technology initiativeI, and is a founding director of Creative Commons and Public Knowledge. Hal’s book, Turtle Geometry, written with Andrea diSessa in 1981, presented a computational approach to geometry that has been cited as "the first step in a revolutionary change in the entire teaching/learning process."

Ellen Spertus is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Mills College, where she has taught with App Inventor, and a Senior Research Scientist at Google, where she was one of the App Inventor developers. She and her work have been written about in Wired, USA Today (which described her as "a geek with principles"), and in The New York Times (as one of three "women who might change the face of the computer industry"). In addition to her many technical publications, her writings have appeared in the book She's Such a Geek: Women Write about Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff and in the magazines Technology Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, Odyssey: Adventures in Science, and Glamour.

Liz Looney is a senior software engineer at Google, where she helped develop App Inventor and is a member of the Robotics Task Force. She has over 20 years of experience in creating programming tools and holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from The University of New Hampshire.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, a MUST HAVE book May 31 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book along with Kloss's and Tyler's. I started with this one. It takes you inside the topic through examples that you can "package" on your phone and show to your friends from day one. You might find some of the examples on the MIT site, but this is much more complete. I have been using Kloss's as a reference. I did not read Tyler's yet. If you want to buy only one book Wolber's is the one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.4 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book! May 24 2011
By NM - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been learning to use App Inventor since I first got a smart phone about six months ago. This book is a much needed learning text for App Inventor. It teaches by having you build examples apps with each one getting a little harder and introducing new concepts.
It starts with Hello Purr, a variation of Hello World. The book makes even this well-known app fun because of a couple of variations it throws in.
In the meantime it explains everything step by step and teaches useful programming practices like testing often, in fact each time you add something new to your program.
The chapters are all well illustrated including a few fun photographs of real people illustrating something about the app.
The book is divided into two main sections. The first section, thankfully, is all the fun apps which you build and learn by doing.
The second section, called Inventor's Manual, is also very interesting when you are ready for it. It discusses issues from a programmers point of view with suggestions on incremental development and similar helpful programming design tips.
It also includes an in depth discussion of all the features, components, and blocks in App Inventor.
The two sections of the book, the tutorials and the Inventor's Manual together provide far more coherent and approachable documentation for App Inventor than Google's on-line documentation.
For anyone who craves a little structure in their learning, I highly recommend this book.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Describes a bold new programming paradigm May 25 2011
By Sam Trenholme - Published on
App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps describes and shows people how to use a new web application platform which has the goal of allowing non-programmers to be able to make Android apps. This book is for people who have never programmed before who wish to develop Android apps. "App Inventor" should not be confused with the Android SDK, which is geared towards professional programmers who already know Java, nor with the Android NDK that uses C++.

Computers have made a lot of progress in the last three decades. We have moved from machines that can only work with 80 column text using a fixed-width font to machines with sophisticated graphical user interfaces. This transition has been done piecemeal, starting with the transition from the Apple II to the Macintosh, followed by the transition from DOS to Windows for business computers, which was then followed by the transition of the Internet from Usenet and other text-only applications to graphical web browsers.

The only technology that hasn't made this transition is the interface used by programmers. Programs are still made using the paradigm of an 80-column terminal with a fixed-width font.

App Inventor breaks this programming model. Programs are developed with a mouse; the program structure is described using graphical components resembling pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The App Inventor book walks you through the process of using this platform, starting with a simple "Hello, world" application and finishing with advanced topics such as using Android's web API.

One issue I had with the system is that App Inventor needs a fast computer with a large screen to function well. While I was able to build basic applications on my test system (an Atom N455 Netbook with a small 1024x600 screen), the emulated system I was developing on ran very slowly and developing applications required a lot of switching the window between the web page with the application and the Java-generated page for programming the application's logic.

I might have had better luck running the system using my 64-bit Linux system which runs the Android SDK noticeably faster, but unfortunately I was unable to synchronize App Inventor with its included Android emulator in Linux.

App Inventor shows a lot of promise, and the O'Reilly book does a good job of describing how to use this development toolkit. Unfortunately, the technology is a little too cutting-edge to use with the low-end computers many people have today. Only get this book if you have tried out App Inventor and it runs well on your system.

DISCLOSURE: A digital copy of this book was given to me because I am a member of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wait to buy until the program is upgraded online. July 8 2014
By Computer Teacher - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To use the book, you need to go to the website and download the free program. Had a problem with the program not working on my Windows 8 computer. The school will be using Windows 7 next year and I doubt the current version of the program will work on Windows 7. Maybe XP. Had planned to use it with students, but couldn't test it for ease of use.

The book is fairly easy to read and looks like it would do great either with kids or to learn so it could be adapted for kids use. It looks to me like we will know better if the company upgrades the program.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for multiple age levels July 16 2011
By wookie - Published on
We used this book to teach a week-long summer camp to high school students and found it to be a very helpful resource. Soon, we will also use it to help 20 high school teachers understand how to develop apps for their science/math courses. In the Fall, we are planning to use this for our new CS Principles course at my university.

This book was selected because of the combination of very cool examples, and a writing style that is very engaging and informative. The book has sections with many examples, as well as chapters that address specific topics within the App Inventor.
3.0 out of 5 stars This is an OLD edition May 6 2014
By DrBee - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is for App Inventor Classic --- not the new and vastly improved AI2. It is also available on the App Inventor website -- for FREE. However -- if you were using App Inventor Classic (which many people still do) it is well written.
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