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Keywords: Android, web, HTML, CSS, JavaScript

Title: Building Android Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Author: Jonathan Stark and Brian Jepson

Publisher: O'Reilly

ISBN: 978-1449316419

Media: Book

Level: Some existing experience of web development required

Verdict: Useful but very focussed


For traditional web developments, the move to Android can all seem a bit confusing. It would be great to be able to reuse all your existing knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript and not have to start from scratch. Especially if what you're really after is porting an existing web application so that it plays nice with the Android environment. If this fits your requirement then you're in luck, because this is precisely what this book sets out to do.

This is a fairly slim little book that is primarily focussed around a single extended tutorial. The tutorial is topped and tailed by a quick roundup of core web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript) and some info on transforming to a native Android app and the Android marketplace. Aside from that, the book is a step by step walk-through of re-styling, re-coding and re-working your site so that it appears as an Android app rather than as a web page in a browser.

The step by step approach is handled sensibly, with explanations of why you're doing things, as well as detailing what it is that you're doing (if you see what I mean). The explanations are clear, and along with the rationale there's lots of code to show what it is that's changing. It does mean lots of repeated code in the book as the tutorial progresses, but the new sections are always cleared marked out. In a book this size it does mean that the code sometimes feels like it's padding out what is already a slim book, but on the other hand sometimes reading code is better than long-winded explanations that leave you none the wiser.

Aside from straight HTML and CSS, the tutorial makes use of some open source JavaScript libraries that help you make use of the Android platform's functionality. For example the jQTouch jQuery plug-in for animation and navigation in the underlying WebKit browser used by Android (and iPhone and Palm Pre).

For those wanting to move on and develop native Android apps there's an introduction to the PhoneGap mobile development framework, including details of how to use the Eclipse IDE for development. While this is a useful introduction, keep in mind that it's one chapter out of eight, and that it's not what the core of the book is about. The final chapter looks at submitting your app to the Android market, again it's useful stuff, but it's the technical content that the book is really about.

Overall this is a useful but very focused book. If you're looking to convert your web site or web app into something that looks good and functions well on Android this is a good place to start. But if you're looking for detail on native development and getting to grips with the core of Android then this really isn't going to cut it.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2012. Published September 05 2012