Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review – Instant .NET 4.5 Extension Methods How-to

Packt’s ‘Instant’ Series promises short, fast, focused guides delivering immediate results. But does their Instant .NET 4.5 Extension Method How-to incarnation deliver, or leave readers wanting more?

It is indeed a short book – 52 pages, and it’s 25% before the technical content starts.

.NET 4.5 Extension Methods How-to
.NET 4.5 Extension Methods How-to

After a brief general introduction, the book follows a code sample and explanation format. Each item is labelled with a difficulty grading, with ‘must know’, ‘should now’, and ‘become an expert’.

The ‘become an expert’ items go beyond the ‘syntactic sugar’ aspects of extension methods and demonstrate their usage in modern .NET design.

Whilst the book costs just over a fiver here in the UK, I felt that it was a little lacking. I spotted a grammatical and code formatting issue, and the format of code and explanation feels a little rushed. The more advanced areas would have ideally had more explanation as to how extension methods fit into the .NET ecosystem.

Another issue is that the book offers nothing over the wealth of articles freely available on the Internet.

Why Amazing Breaker is better than Angry Birds

So, Amazing Breaker is better than Angry Birds, and here’s why:

  • it feels more precise; sure there’s a physics engine in Angry Birds, but how many times have you thought ‘wtf?’ whilst playing it?
  • it feels more strategic than Angry Birds – planning your attack using a succession of different attacks feels more integral to the gameplay
  • pulling off a wave of destruction after three or so turns of strategic bomb placement feels so satisfying
  • who doesn’t like watching game world explosions?
  • who doesn’t like it when their amazing move is rewarded with an ‘amazing’ comment?
  • sure, the birds have a far greater characterisation than different coloured ballistics, but the graphics are pretty amazing nonetheless
  • I was getting bored of angry birds anyway

    Introducing HTML5 Book Review

    Introducing HTML5 Book Cover

    About a year ago, it was jQuery. Now it seems to be HTML5 that’s getting everybody excited. Unfortunately, HTML5 has become something of an umbrella term for all sorts of technologies that are no part of it. No matter – there are books to help us discern the fluff from the substance.

    Not long ago, I reviewed A Book Apart’s HTML5 for Web Designers; another HTML book that’s getting people excited is Introducing HTML5, co-authored by Bruce Lawson and Remy Sharp. In my review of HTML5 for Web Designers, I was probably a little too polite. Whilst I enjoyed reading it, it was too thin and didn’t cover anything in any great detail. Lawson and Sharp’s effort suggests an introduction, but is much more what you’d expect from a book on the subject.

    The diplomatic view on the two books is that they reach out to different audiences, and that the abridged format of HTML5 for Web Designers is appropriate for designers wishing to get the facts without the technical detail. I’m going to stick my neck on the line here and say that Introducing HTML5 is the better book, but since I thrive on technical detail, that will come as no surprise.

    The book’s dedicated website has a Chapter listing for the book, which is listed here to give you an idea of what’s covered:

    1. Introduction: why HTML5 exists
    2. Structuring a page
    3. Marking up a blog & the outlining algorithm
    4. Forms
    5. Multimedia (video, audio) markup and APIs
    6. Canvas
    7. Storage
    8. Working Offline
    9. Drag & Drop
    10. Geolocation
    11. Messages, Web Workers & Web Sockets

    The website also contains a list of companion links for the book, which is a great source of information and inspiration.

    The book’s aimed primarily at developers with a working knowledge of HTML and JavaScript, but I don’t see why designers shouldn’t give it a shot. The book’s well written by two authors who are both conversant with their subject matter, but also deliver it in a fun and flowing way that makes it a worthwhile purchase for anybody interested in working on a new generation of web apps.

    HTML5 for Web Designers

    HTML5 for Web Designers

    If you’re a web designer or developer, chances are high that you’ve heard of Jeremy Keith‘s HTML5 for Web Designers. If you’re a web designer or developer, chances are fairly high that you’ve ordered it.

    According to Jeffrey Zeldman, the book sold 5000 copies during the first 24 hours of pre-sales. All the personnel involved with its production are well-respected members of the design community, and so I didn’t falter in placing an order.

    HTML5 for Designers, inside the book

    A Book Apart handle the delivery, so it’ll take a while longer than a next day Amazon shipment, but the delay only served to fuel my anticipation for the little book.

    I’m only thought the first third of the book, but I’m already finding it incredibly well-written and it feels quite special. The $27 I paid for it is expensive, but the book’s such a great overall little package, that it might just be worth it.

    HTML5 for Designers

    Firebug 1.5 book from Packt Publishing Review

    Firebug Book Review

    The success of Firefox over recent years can be partly attributed to the extensions that beef up what’s already a great browser into something truly amazing. Firebug’s one of the most popular extensions, and for good reason. I’ve used it for editing CSS, viewing AJAX requests, DOM manipulation and debugging JavaScript. To say it’s been helpful is a large understatement, and it’s why I use Firefox as my main browser for web development.

    Packt Publishing’s lengthily titled ‘Firebug 1.5 : Editing, Debugging, and Monitoring Web Pages’ starts the reader off gently with a ‘Getting Started’ chapter, discussing Firebug’s history, installation and Firebug Lite, a JavaScript version for non-Firefox browsers. In cases where a particular problem occurs on Safari, for example, the lite version can be extremely useful. Chapter 2 introduces the various Firebug tabs and gives a good overview of Firebug’s main capabilities. Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6 expand on the HTML, CSS and DOM functionality, and provide a great, in-depth examination of what’s possible.

    Chapter 7 – ‘Performance Tuning Our Web Application’ – looks at the Net panel, and once again, the discussion is thorough and well-written. Not only does it give information about Firebug, but by its very nature, delves into HTTP headers and XMLHttpRequest monitoring.

    Chapter 8 – ‘AJAX Development’ explains the console.debug call that I’ve made on several occasions, as well the (new to me) console.assert for for assertions and the useful console.dir(object) for giving a DOM tab style object dump for the supplied object parameter.

    Chapter 9 – ‘Tips and Tricks for Firebug’ also had something new for me, console.group() and console.groupEnd(), which are functions that group ouput in the output console. When there are lots of debug statements being fired out to the console window, it can be useful to group them, and I’ve already used this to my benefit since reading the book.

    Chapter 10 – ‘Necessary Firebug Extensions’ takes a look at ways of making Firebug even better by using 8 extensions that empower their users to more accurately diagnose and fix performance issues, manage cookies and improve SEO.

    Chapter 11 – ‘Extending Firebug’ builds on Chapter 10′s introduced extensions by describing how to build your own. To keep things in proportion, it’s a fairly small chapter, building a small ‘Hello World’ extension, but it does give food for thought.

    The book closes with an Appendix detailing Firebug’s API, and a look ahead at Firebug 1.7

    Overall, this is a well-written and descriptive book, and although it is probably more suitable for a new to intermediate Firebug user, I found quite a few ‘ooh – I didn’t know that’ moments throughout that make it worthwhile for any reader who designs and develops websites.