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Mike Riley

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iPad Programming Book Review

September 30, 2010

iPhone developers looking for a book that will help them learn how to leverage the new SDK features of the iPad, authors Daniel Steinberg and Eric Freeman may have just what you're looking for. Is it worth the price of admission? Read on to find out.iPad Programming: A Quick-Start Guide for iPhone Developers, delivers exactly what the title says. It's a book for seasoned iPhone developers seeking to extend their Objective-C and iPhone SDK skills to the iPad platform. While the examples given provide step-by-step detail on constructing the various iPad-specific features, this is not a book that will teach newcomers the fundamentals of iOS programming. Readers are expected to know Objective-C, the iPhone 3 SDK and have developer access to the iPhone 3.2 SDK. Assuming these minimum requirements are met, this sub-250 page book is quite a bargain, given the smart and concise way the authors demonstrate how iPad-specific features like split views, pop-overs, custom keyboard buttons, advanced video playback, VGA output and document file transfer via iTunes are coded. If you are a veteran iPad owner, you no doubt have encountered each of these features and wondered how they were done. With iPad Programming in hand, wonder no longer.

The book contains 13 chapters, each between 10 and 20+ pages long. It begins with a chapter on upscaling an iPhone application to a Universal, iPad resolution and screen-size friendly program. Then, chapters on using the Split View Controller, UIGestureRecognizer, Popovers and Modal Dialog Boxes (and dealing with changes portrait or landscape orientation) are also easy to follow along. It wasn't until the chapters on custom keyboards and using the cocoa API's to output drawings to a PDF did things get even more interesting. Two chapters on the Movie Player cover just about everything you will need to manipulate video elements and playback. The chapter on Apple's HTTP-based streaming protocol was brief (less than 10 pages) but useful, while chapters sending video output to an external VGA display and initiating and managing iPad peer network connections were invaluable. Chapter 12 on transferring, registering and opening documents supported by your iPad application were also priceless. The final chapter concludes with a series of takeaways reminding readers what makes an iPad application look, feel and behave like an iPad app. Part Apple design guidelines and part hard-earned experience, these tips were healthy reminders for current and future iPad developers to internalize.

One of the unfortunately aspects of the timing of the book's release is that the examples are all based on the iPhone 3.2 SDK. The book was in beta for some time, but given how close its publication is to the impending release of iOS 4.2 for the iPad, it would have made sense to hold off another month or so to be awarded the first book to cover coding for the new iOS for iPad release out of the gate. As such, those who prefer reading technical books on paper may want to consider purchasing the book+ebook combination instead of just the paper edition. Pragmatic Bookshelf has a good history of updating their electronic publications frequently, and I anticipate that this book may have at least an appendix of changes and/or new features for programmers to explore in the 4.2 iOS release. Indeed, it makes sense for a person interested in a book on iPad programming would want to read it on their iPad. That's how I read the book, and I found it to be even more comfortable than reading a print edition. I propped my iPad up next to my monitor and followed along with the code examples. Unlike a paper book, I never once had the binding flop the book closed and tumble out of my lap. Reading the Epub edition using the iBooks application allowed me to highlight, annotate and search for passages way faster than the analog ink on paper alternative.

The key aspect I appreciated in iPad Programming is how the authors have zeroed in on the cool features of the device and offered their interpretation of Apple's SDK documentation. It's a developer to developer communication style that I found guided me along a much faster path toward understanding how to call upon nifty iPad functions compared to SDK examples. I hope the authors quickly follow up the book with extra chapters on the new iOS 4.2 features such as multitasking and Game Center to keep the book even more relevant for some time to come.

Title: iPad Programming: A Quick-Start Guide for iPhone Developers Author: Daniel H Steinberg and Eric T Freeman Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf ISBN: 978-1-93435-657-9 Pages: 248 Price: $34.95

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