• Book Review: iPhone in Action (Giveaway Inside)

    Some time ago the folks at Manning sent me a handful of copies of iPhone in Action by Christopher Allen and Shannon Appelcline for review. After spending a few weeks reading through this book devoted to both Web and SDK development for the iPhone I can conclusively say that iPhone in Action is quite the useful iPhone development guide.

    Before going any further let me start off by saying iPhone in Action is not for the newcomer with zero developing experience. If you have zero experience with web development the web development portion will not give you all the tools you need to create the iPhone web app of your dreams. The same goes for those interested in developing a native app with the SDK as the book just doesn't go deep enough into Objective-C to be your only reference.

    The folks this book is really targeted to (and perfect for) are those people that have done some web development and/or have experience in Objective-C that are looking for some help and guidance as they venture into development for the iPhone. iPhone in Action excels at providing detailed, organized, and clear information on the development particularities concerning the iPhone.

    Web Development

    iPhone in Action was originally intended to be a web development book by the authors and it shows. They even state as much during the Preface. After a short introduction section of Web vs. SDK iPhone in Action dives into web development so deeply that it could be one of if not the most complete iPhone web development books around. Seriously I can't say I have seen any single iPhone-specific web development publication as good as this one.

    The web dev section starts out with the basics of chrome manipulation, using WebKit, and UI design. Going a bit deeper than I expected the web dev section continues further into a very nice chapter discussing the use of Canvas to create shapes. Afterwards there is a chapter that give a quick overview of how to use Dashboard to make iPhone web apps (I wasn't aware Dashboard was suited for that) and then everything is rounded off with some debugging discussion. Considering the wealth of knowledge shared the web dev section is relatively small only taking up 130 pages out of the book's 400.

    SDK Development

    The brunt of the book is devoted to creating native apps. This section of the book is fairly fast paced but not overwhelming to anyone familiar with any Obj-C. I would even go as far as to say the pace of the book is refreshing as you glide through developing different simple example applications. Nothing in great detail but perfect for the developer stepping into the iPhone arena.

    The order of topics covered is logical starting out with an introduction to Obj-C (extremely short -- if you have no experience buy a Obj-C book before continuing), then going into Xcode, followed by a section chapter dedicated to the Interface Builder. After those building blocks have been laid out iPhone in Action continues from more basic to more advanced, view actions to internet protocols. Following everything step by step and typing out the code examples as you go will undoubtedly leave you with a solid understanding of iPhone programing and point you in the correct direction to creating and designing your application.


    iPhone in Action is the must-have book for developers looking to enter the realm of iPhone development. What makes iPhone in Action unique as an iPhone development resource is that it covers both Web and SDK development in a friendly and clear manner without ever "babying" you. If you have the fundamentals of web development or Objective-C or both and are thinking about diving into iPhone development this book is for you. Even if you are a complete beginner and are devoted to learning iPhone in Action is a excellent resource when paired with some other more topic specific readings like a dedicated Obj-C book.

    Do you want a copy of your own? The publisher Manning Publications was kind enough to give me four copies to pass along to four random people who post a reply to this thread! Simply start your post out with:

    "iPhone in Action would help me . . ."

    followed by whatever you see fit. Four lucky winners will be randomly selected on March 4th, 2009.
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