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An incomplete review of books on iPhone Development.

Those are the three books I have stacked on my desk, in accordance with my recent iPhone development news [link].  I've been reading them quite a lot over the last few days, so I thought I'd post my own opinionated summary of them.

iPhone Application Development for DUMMIES

I started with this one first, purely because it says 'for DUMMIES'.  I figure it's the lowest level book, and there's no point reading a lower level book after you've read a more complex one, so here's where I started.

Progress through the book is painstakingly slow - there's a lot of words and banter for every action you actually get done.  After about 3/4 of the book you've made your first application.  The last 1/4 of the book is where you start picking up speed and using more than just the basic drag and drop UI elements, which reads like the last 1/4 was the actual planned book and the first 3/4 was forced in to fill out the page count!

Having worked through the examples in the book, it hasn't actually helped me work out how iPhone apps work, or how I can make something from scratch myself - it's just proved that I can follow instructions.  And even then, things got confusing.

Beginning iPhone Development

Currently reading this one.  Immediately it's more fast paced than the DUMMIES book, and has a whole slew of different tutorials.  Whereas the dummies book takes 8 chapters to go over a single application, this book does more-or-less an application per chapter - or at least something significant in each chapter.  Which means you can quickly build up experience with many of the core UI elements, and then it goes further into the custom 'Quartz' application development, which is development without the UI templates.

As well as its own examples, this book does a very good job of paraphrasing all of the official Apple documentation, into a more concise format - very useful considering the wealth of information you'd otherwise have to glean yourself from the official documentation.  Still hasn't managed to make me understand iPhone development enough to start something from scratch, but it's come a lot closer than the previous book.

The iPhone Developer's Cookbook

This one's easy - mainly because I haven't read it yet.  It's at the bottom of my pile of books, but only because that's the order they arrived in.  I'm hoping for good things from it, but I haven't got to it yet. (Like the title says, an incomplete review)


Seems like a lot of this iPhone stuff is being purposefully obtuse about explaining things in simple terms.  The Apple documentation is thorough to the point of being anal, but leaves you with gaps about the relationships between concepts, and this follows through into the books I've read so far.  Maybe I'm just spoilt by the Flash Platform community and bloggers taking the time to explain things in simple terms!

One thing that has helped me understand iPhone development:

Surprisingly after buying all those books, the thing that's helped me understand the process the most is a blog post or two: I'm sure the books helped some, perhaps got me to the point where I could understand what I was following in this blog post - but this explained with small paragraphs and images what the books have been trying to describe with pages of text. Kudos, b00giZm.

And if anyone can recommend any other iPhone development books, I'm all ears...

James Ford

James Ford

Front end web developer, author of the Flash Facebook Cookbook and Technical Architect at MMT Digital.

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