Customer Reviews: Mobile Design and Development: Practical concepts and techniques for creating mobile sites and web apps (Animal Guide)
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on October 4, 2010
Original review written by Pasquale Granato, JUG Lugano, [...]

First of all, let's clear the field from a possible misunderstanding: this book is not about general mobile design and development but it is about web mobile development. The author states a precise, despite arguable, opinion that brutally said is: do not code native applications but prefer as much as you can web applications. This statement is largely discussed across the book and everyone can make up his own opinion about this. Mine is that currently times are not mature to consider to write just web applications both because mobile browser are not powerful enough (on average) to assure a smooth experience on all devices and because of the lack of a good way to make money from your web app.
The first three chapters of the book are a really good introduction to the history of mobile, to the mobile current status and to the reasons that should drive an approach to the mobile development. These chapters are a well written recap of the status of the art and present a lot of data useful to understand the global situation. Unfortunately the book is printed in black and white and several pie-charts and graphs are pretty much impossible to read.
The central part of the book, chapters from four to ten, is devoted to design issues and, despite the lack of an in-depth examination of some subjects, offers a pretty good survey of the topic.
The final part of the book is slightly more technical covering topics such as XHTML-MP, CSS, HTML5, device adaptation, etc. The problem here is that there is nothing really practical and all remains at an introductory level. To give you an example, a capital topic in device adaptation like Media Queries is covered in half a page with just a trivial example. Furthermore the author seems to be unaware of things like XwapProfile or UAProf (that is probably a obsolete and unreliable method but deserve at least a notation).
My biggest complain is anyway about the author's obsession for the iPhone. The Apple's jewel is referenced continuously and always with great glorification: the word iPhone recurs 99 times in the book and out of the 115 pictures in the book as many as 37 depict an iPhone. An entire chapter is devoted to iPhone web applications development even though most of the concepts presented here are common to other modern devices.
This is overall a decent introductory book, if you are completely new to the field, and it's packed with many good advices but do not expect much from the practical techniques promised by the title.
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on December 5, 2009
Anyone looking to moving into the mobile space as a developer or manager should take the time to read this book. Fling brings a considerable amount of experience to the table and gives an incredible survey of the situation as it exists now. Failing to take into account all the valuable information here would be foolish.

The tone and style are refreshing. Fling doesn't try to be cute or work up a side-line as a comedian. This is just straight out guidance, dealing with real world considerations that keeps things from being too dry.

There isn't much in the way of detailed implementation as this is an overview of the whole landscape. This is what should be read before a project is begun, not somewhere in the middle when code is already being written. Fling makes a great case for mobile web apps and gives some very practical guidance in their creation. It's really the only platform wide enough to fit in the book. Anything else would require an extremely narrow focus that wouldn't fit the rest of the book.

I enjoyed reading this and learned a lot in the process. One can't really ask for more.

Fling is a huge fan of the iPhone and spends a whole chapter describing web development for the iPhone. Since webkit exists in other smart phones, the information is applicable to other platforms for the most part but I would have preferred something less tied to one phone from one vendor. My bias is toward android, but there are plenty of iPhone and Android development books. I can use those once I've moved on to specifics. But this is really a very small issue in relation to the excellent information and presentation in this book.

There is one other issue I almost forgot. There are pie charts in the book, which is black and white. Some of the 'slices' are so close to one another in color that it was pretty much impossible for me to tell where they started and stopped. It doesn't hurt the book too much but needs to be fixed in future editions. Fling explains the charts, so one can infer where things are but that means the charts are not even necessary or helpful.

But if those are the biggest problems with a tech book, it's doing pretty well in my estimation.
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on July 25, 2010
The bulk of this book (say 80%) is a discussion of information architecture retooled for the mobile world. A useful discussion, but it is NOT why I bought a book on mobile development. I expected a book that discussed in great detail, mobile development.

Skip to chapter 11, 'Mobile Web Development' to get a taste. Chapter 12, 'iPhone Web Apps' also has a few nuggets. Chapter 15, the oddly named and placed 'Supporting Devices' touches on setting up a test and dev environment.

Technical details for server configuration, local test/dev environment configuration, dev methods and techniques etc. are absent. This is NOT a technical reference or guide. It IS, a good executive 'summary'.

Also, although it makes every attempt to appear agnostic, the book is clearly iPhone-centric. This caused me to change my rating from two stars to one star.
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on November 6, 2010
This is a rich, deep look at mobile design. A multitude of devices and platforms defy standard answers to every mobile design and development situation, but Fling leads you though some steps meant to help you navigate those issues.

The book first explains the mobile landscape and defines some of the needed terminology. A look at the scope of the mobile market gets a chapter. Fling devotes Chapter 4 to "Designing for Context." Context is an important concept he returns to in every chapter. He defines and redefines context throughout the book. In Chapter 4 he explains context as the way users will derive value from something they are currently doing. From this viewpoint, user context understands user circumstance. Context also means the environment in which a task is performed. These types of context include physical location, device, platform, access, media and the user's time and attention.

Chapter 5 talks about developing a mobile strategy. He looks at reasons why some attempts fail while others succeed. The style of thinking that works in other forms of design and development don't work for mobile. He takes a look at thinking patterns and development decisions and makes many points about how to unleash the creativity needed to develop for the new world of mobile.

The many types of mobile applications are explained in Chapter 6. In Chapter 7, he explains information architecture as it applies to mobile devices. In Chapter 8 he discusses the elements of design that apply to mobile. Mobile Web apps vs. native applications are examined in Chapter 9. There's also a chapter devoted to the notion of mobile 2.0. The nitty gritty details of using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create products for mobile browsers and devices gets the treatment in Chapter 11, and in Chapter 12, which is focused on iPhone Web Apps and WebKit. He talks about how to take an existing Web app and adapt it for mobile. There's a chapter about how to make money in mobile. A chapter devoted to devices and device testing plans has good ideas for ways to test. The book winds down with a chapter on the opportunities and future of mobile.

Anyone who is thinking of developing for mobile can benefit from this book. I think it would be especially valuable for businesses leaders who are successful in some area of technology and want to move into the mobile market. Thinking that worked in other situations doesn't help in mobile. The thinking patterns, development strategies, and new approaches needed for mobile development are well explained here. A person willing to make the changes needed will find excellent examples and strategies for change in this book.


A Webuquerque community member review by Virginia DeBolt
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on April 11, 2012
The back of this book says it's recommended for "web designers, web developers, information architects, product managers, usability professionals, content publishers, entrepreneurs new to mobile web".
If you recognize yourself in this group, this book is resolutely not for you.

There is literally no useful information for developers or designers. The author glosses over what could be relevant info here and there (tidbits of HTML/CSS, UX design, etc.)-- but it is definitely not a design or development book as its title would suggest.

There are chapters dedicated more to the business development side of things-- adapting a mobile strategy for your existing products and websites, etc. But even here, information lacks too much depth to be of any relevant use.

One could argue that this book could serve as a good introductory text for non-technical people who need a first exposure to mobile ecosystems, and that a more representative title for this book would be "Overview of the mobile landscape". But these people won't need to learn about the intricacies of CSS transformations or mobile agent detection in PHP, and as such a number of chapters in the book while just be useless to them or even worse, confuse them.

All in all, Brian Fling's book is too scattered to provide anything of value. If you're looking to get into mobile development, pick up an intro book about Objective C for iPhone or Java for Android. If you're looking to get into mobile design, pickup a book about mobile UI/UX design. If you're a suit wanting to grasp the business implications of mobile, get a book about just that. Regardless, avoid this title at all costs-- your library is better off without this title.
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VINE VOICEon April 30, 2013
This is a detailed overview of the mobile device scene. You won't learn computer codes but it makes it clear of the complexities involved in making apps for the numerous devices. After reading this you will have no illusions about what has to be done to make applications compatible with numerous devices.
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on April 3, 2013
In March 2013, the U.N. said 6 billion of the worlds 7 billion people had mobile phones. Of this number over 1 billion had smartphones. Although there are some slow adopters due to cost and bandwidth issues, the fact is mobile is here to stay. And the mobile web is a maturing part of doing business in today's world. Are you engaged?

Most organizations have a mobile-friendly web site. This allows for audio and video playback and touch interface navigation. While that is a start it is only the bottom rung of the ladder. You need a strategy, a mobile design, and well developed site to compete for the eyes of mobile savvy users.

Brian Fling's book, Mobile Design and Development is a good place to start. As Fling says, "I wrote this book to be a beginning--your beginning in mobile--and to give you all the information you need to know in order to start thinking of your site, application, or business in the mobile context."

Brian Fling. Mobile Design and Development (Kindle Locations 305-307). O'Reilly Media.

Before you dismiss this book as too basic, be sure to check out the chapters on:
The Mobile Ecosystem
Designing For Context
Mobile Strategy
Mobile Web Apps versus Native Apps
Adapting to Devices
The Future of Mobile

Everything rises and falls on strategy and a good mobile strategy is the key to a successful mobile design and roll out. In the case of mobile, context is king! Understanding your users and, consequently, their needs will get you most of the way there. Based on proper personas you can assess the needs of your mobile audience and begin to define goals for meeting those needs. You will most likely have a large list of needs and related goals. Don't be tempted to develop them all. As Fling notes, "keep it simple."

Without going into too much more detail, suffice it to say there are many good nuggets of information for application in Mobile Design and Development. This book should definitely be amongst your personal library.
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on July 1, 2011
A lot of topics are mentioned in this book but none of them were discussed in-depth. I was looking for possible designs, pros and cons, any pitfalls to look for and how to overcome. This book does not cover any of that. It mentions a lot of topics, off-the-shelf software at peripheral level.
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on December 30, 2011
First off the book is excellent. It won't please people who want to see code or tons of detail in different areas but as an introduction to mobile design it is fantastic. It covers a lot of ground and, above all, provides some context for people about to dive deeper into the mobile world for the first time.

Some reviewers objected to the author's opinion that mobile web apps are the way to go but I found it refreshing that he took a stand and backed it up with reasons.

However, I personally had to plug my nose on all the iPhone bias in the book. If you didn't know better you would think Safari was the greatest browser since sliced bread and that it was the only decent WebKit browser out there. Google Chrome is not mentioned at all (although it is a desktop browser) and the Android browser has maybe one or two references. Now, some of this might just be because the book's material is dated but the magnitude of the bias is so great that it has to be intentional or due to the author's lack of knowledge of things other than the iPhone.

I was slightly annoyed with all the iPhone stuff but when I got to Chapter 12 "iPhone Web Apps" I really could hardly take it. The authors blindness to anything other than the iPhone started to detract from the integrity of the content. Finally when I read the claim in Chapter 13 that IE and Firefox make up 90% of the desktop browser market I had to put down the book and write this review...even Wikipedia shows Google Chrome topping 20% of the market.

I have no grudge against the iPhone and the revolution it brought about but it is not the only game in town anymore. People who write mobile books need to deal with the real world. I hope the next edition addresses this problem.
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on April 26, 2010
Many people would pay for the information Brian Fling has assembled here. Project managers, and even clients need to read and digest this book before starting a mobile initiative. You have no idea how gigantic and varied the mobile industry is until you've heard it from Brian Fling.
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