App Inventor Paperback – May 13 2011
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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, Fortune.CNN.com, 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.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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