Mobile Design and Development: Practical concepts and techniques for creating mobile sites and web apps Paperback – Aug 24 2009
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About the Author
Brian Fling owns and runs mobiledesign.org, the largest mobile design and development discussion list on the web. He's been in both the web and mobile industries for close to a decade as an entrepreneur, consultant and employee. Brian has helped big brands navigate the mobile space and he's worked with a lot of well funded mobile companies that have failed miserably. Over the years he's learned that his insight into mobile is quite unique, avoiding hype describing tried and true principles and techniques to building cost effective mobile experiences.
Brian wrote the dotMobi Mobile Web Developers Guide, the first complete guide to mobile authoring. It was a free guide and while he doesn't have exact numbers, dotMobi informed him it was downloaded "over 15,000 times in the first few weeks."
Brian's intentions in the mobile space is to advocate and build awareness, not to make money. He believes that the mobile web is primed to change everything we think we know about how people search and gather information. His goal is to foster invention and innovation of the next generation of websites in a medium that is device and context aware.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First of all, let's clear the field from a possible misunderstanding: this book is not about general mobile design and development but it is about web mobile development. The author states a precise, despite arguable, opinion that brutally said is: do not code native applications but prefer as much as you can web applications. This statement is largely discussed across the book and everyone can make up his own opinion about this. Mine is that currently times are not mature to consider to write just web applications both because mobile browser are not powerful enough (on average) to assure a smooth experience on all devices and because of the lack of a good way to make money from your web app.
The first three chapters of the book are a really good introduction to the history of mobile, to the mobile current status and to the reasons that should drive an approach to the mobile development. These chapters are a well written recap of the status of the art and present a lot of data useful to understand the global situation. Unfortunately the book is printed in black and white and several pie-charts and graphs are pretty much impossible to read.
The central part of the book, chapters from four to ten, is devoted to design issues and, despite the lack of an in-depth examination of some subjects, offers a pretty good survey of the topic.
The final part of the book is slightly more technical covering topics such as XHTML-MP, CSS, HTML5, device adaptation, etc. The problem here is that there is nothing really practical and all remains at an introductory level. To give you an example, a capital topic in device adaptation like Media Queries is covered in half a page with just a trivial example. Furthermore the author seems to be unaware of things like XwapProfile or UAProf (that is probably a obsolete and unreliable method but deserve at least a notation).
My biggest complain is anyway about the author's obsession for the iPhone. The Apple's jewel is referenced continuously and always with great glorification: the word iPhone recurs 99 times in the book and out of the 115 pictures in the book as many as 37 depict an iPhone. An entire chapter is devoted to iPhone web applications development even though most of the concepts presented here are common to other modern devices.
This is overall a decent introductory book, if you are completely new to the field, and it's packed with many good advices but do not expect much from the practical techniques promised by the title.
The tone and style are refreshing. Fling doesn't try to be cute or work up a side-line as a comedian. This is just straight out guidance, dealing with real world considerations that keeps things from being too dry.
There isn't much in the way of detailed implementation as this is an overview of the whole landscape. This is what should be read before a project is begun, not somewhere in the middle when code is already being written. Fling makes a great case for mobile web apps and gives some very practical guidance in their creation. It's really the only platform wide enough to fit in the book. Anything else would require an extremely narrow focus that wouldn't fit the rest of the book.
I enjoyed reading this and learned a lot in the process. One can't really ask for more.
Fling is a huge fan of the iPhone and spends a whole chapter describing web development for the iPhone. Since webkit exists in other smart phones, the information is applicable to other platforms for the most part but I would have preferred something less tied to one phone from one vendor. My bias is toward android, but there are plenty of iPhone and Android development books. I can use those once I've moved on to specifics. But this is really a very small issue in relation to the excellent information and presentation in this book.
There is one other issue I almost forgot. There are pie charts in the book, which is black and white. Some of the 'slices' are so close to one another in color that it was pretty much impossible for me to tell where they started and stopped. It doesn't hurt the book too much but needs to be fixed in future editions. Fling explains the charts, so one can infer where things are but that means the charts are not even necessary or helpful.
But if those are the biggest problems with a tech book, it's doing pretty well in my estimation.
Skip to chapter 11, 'Mobile Web Development' to get a taste. Chapter 12, 'iPhone Web Apps' also has a few nuggets. Chapter 15, the oddly named and placed 'Supporting Devices' touches on setting up a test and dev environment.
Technical details for server configuration, local test/dev environment configuration, dev methods and techniques etc. are absent. This is NOT a technical reference or guide. It IS, a good executive 'summary'.
Also, although it makes every attempt to appear agnostic, the book is clearly iPhone-centric. This caused me to change my rating from two stars to one star.
The book first explains the mobile landscape and defines some of the needed terminology. A look at the scope of the mobile market gets a chapter. Fling devotes Chapter 4 to "Designing for Context." Context is an important concept he returns to in every chapter. He defines and redefines context throughout the book. In Chapter 4 he explains context as the way users will derive value from something they are currently doing. From this viewpoint, user context understands user circumstance. Context also means the environment in which a task is performed. These types of context include physical location, device, platform, access, media and the user's time and attention.
Chapter 5 talks about developing a mobile strategy. He looks at reasons why some attempts fail while others succeed. The style of thinking that works in other forms of design and development don't work for mobile. He takes a look at thinking patterns and development decisions and makes many points about how to unleash the creativity needed to develop for the new world of mobile.
Anyone who is thinking of developing for mobile can benefit from this book. I think it would be especially valuable for businesses leaders who are successful in some area of technology and want to move into the mobile market. Thinking that worked in other situations doesn't help in mobile. The thinking patterns, development strategies, and new approaches needed for mobile development are well explained here. A person willing to make the changes needed will find excellent examples and strategies for change in this book.
A Webuquerque community member review by Virginia DeBolt
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