Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Buy one tech ebook, get one free

This offer ends on Packt Publishing on March 26. Check it out: http://bit.ly/1j26nPN

Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Creating Games with cocos2d for iPhone 2

Itching to develop 2D games for iPhones, iPads, and/or iPod touches? I suggest you check out the book Creating Games with cocos2d for iPhone 2, by Paul Nygard.

To use this book, you must have a Mac running Lion or later, the program Xcode 4.5 or higher, and at least a working knowledge of cocos2d. Experience in coding Objective-C and C++ also helps, especially when one of the games uses the Box2D engine, which was written in C++. You can run these games in iOS simulators. If you want to run them in real Apple devices, you must be registered with Apple's iOS Developer program.

In this book, you learn how to create and code nine different types of games: a memory game with a group of squares where you press and turn over two squares, and they disappear if their turned-up images are identical, a match game where you line up at least three identical shapes in a straight line and they disappear (think Candy Crush Saga), a "thumping" game where penguins keep raising their heads from molehills, and fly off the screen if you tap them, a game where a snake you move around grows each time it eats mice, a "brick-breaking" where you hit a ball with a rectangle and it makes bricks disappear when it hits them; reminiscent of the classic Atari game Breakout, a two-player game where the players draw lines using a light, and avoid hitting these lines, a pool game, a scrolling-shooter game with an onscreen joystick, and an "endless-running" game where the player makes a robot shoot his enemies while walking through randomly generated scrolling landscapes.

These are all classic gaming styles, and I liked how the author covered all of them in this book; walking the reader through the process of designing, and then coding, each game. This approach gives the reader a nice introduction and reference to how each type of game is made. There was a type of game that Paul Nygard didn't cover in this book: the hidden object game. If he chooses to make future editions of this book, I hope he includes this type of game in it, because readers might want to know how to make one.

I would have liked to see more specifics on how to tailor each game to different types of iOS devices. If the author could include sections on how to create versions of each game for iPads and iPhones/iPod touches in this book, I think game designers and programmers would find it helpful. Despite this, I found this book enjoyable and informative.

Creating Games with cocos2d for iPhone 2 is published by Packt Publishing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Coming Soon: a review of a book on how to make games with Cocos2d

In the meantime, here is a sort of "sneak peak" review of the book Creating Games with Cocos2D for iPhone 2, by Paul Nygard: In this book, you learn how to make nine different games using Cocos2D, a framework for developing 2D games for any iOS device; namely iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads. Many iOS apps have been built with this framework. Each game represents a classic game style: a memory tile game, a game where you check for matches, a game where the eye is tricked, a game where sprites follow each other and there are increasingly difficult levels, a game with power-ups and a physics engine, a multiplayer game, a pool game, a game with a scrolling shooter and a "sneaky joystick," and a game where characters move through random terrain and contend with different types of enemies. I like how this book not only teaches you cocos2D, but also covers different gaming styles. I think every book on how to create games should take this approach.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review: iCloud Standard Guide

Got a Mac or a Windows PC, an iPad, iPhone, and/or iPod touch and want to learn how to share content between them so it's automatically updated no matter which of these devices you edit them in? Are you new to iCloud and anxious to learn how to use it, and looking for a good, thorough, quick-start guide? Look no further than the iCloud Standard Guide, written by Andri Yadi and Fauzan Alfi.

First, this book walks you through installing iCloud on Macs, iOS devices (iPads, iPhones,and iPod touches), and Windows PCs. Then you learn how to work with iCloud apps such as Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and iWork (Pages for print documents, Keynote for slideshow presentations, and Numbers for spreadsheets), and edit and update content created in all these apps across devices. Apple allows third-party apps to use the feature Documents to the Cloud for saving documents; which are uploaded to the cloud and downloaded to your devices. To see what data and documents are stored on your iCloud account, you can log into iCloud Developer and click on the Documents icon. You also learn how to manage photos with iPhoto and Photo Stream, and iTunes to purchase movies and music, and distribute them throughout all your devices; and do the same with instant messages, notes, and reminders. Entire chapters are devoted to syncing your content with iCloud, and backing up your devices to iCloud; as well as using iCloud with OSX. There is also a chapter on how to use iCloud with Windows.

Perhaps one of the coolest things about this book is learning how to use Find My iPhone, which enables you to locate your iOS device on a map if it gets lost or stolen, and configure it on iOS devices. The Mac has a similar service called Find My Mac, which you also learn how to set up and use. I especially liked how there is a section on how to find your Apple devices on a map using Location Services once Find My iPhone or Find My Mac is set up. This section includes information on how to remotely lock your lost device with another device using a four-digit passcode, so if a thief or anyone else picks the lost device up, they will be unable to use it unless they type in this passcode.

Another cool thing this book teaches you is how find your friends on a map using Location Services using the app Find Your Friends. You can enable them to be show up on a map permanently, or invite them to show up on a map for a specific time frame. Once this time frame expires, they disappear from the map. For those who feel leery about having their whereabouts monitored, know that if anyone wants to track you either way, they must have your permission first.

I found the iCloud Standard Guide informative, detailed, and well written. It makes a very good quick-start book, and I would definitely recommend it to those new to iCloud.

The iCloud Standard Guide is published by Packt Publishing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Developing Windows Store Apps with HTML5 and Javascript

Are you a seasoned HTML5/CSS3/Javascript coder, and interested in creating apps for Windows 8? Look no further than the book Developing Windows Store Apps with HTML5 and Javascript, by Rami Sarieddine.

Even if you're a Mac user, you can still make Windows 8 apps. All you have to do is get Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac, which enables you to run Windows programs, and install Microsoft Visual Studio, which you will be using to create these apps.

This book first covers HTML5 and CSS3, describing the HTML5 tags and style sheets, respectively, that you'll most be likely be including in your app. The HTML5 tags include semantic elements, media elements, form validation, enriched input tags, and custom data attributes. The CSS3 styles discussed are different types of selectors, fluid layouts, CSS-powered animations and transforms, and media queries. Then you are introduced to WinJS, the asynchronous Windows library that gives access to Windows Runtime for Windows Store apps using Javascript. This is a library that must be used if you want to make Windows 8 apps using Javascript. Finally, the reader dives right in and makes Windows 8 apps using Visual Studio; learning how to to make them responsive, bind data to them, make them live through Tiles and Notifications, signing users in, adding menus and commands to the app bar (which is usually on the bottom of the screen), and, finally, packaging and publishing your app.

Not a web developer, but a Windows one? No problem. The last chapter describes how to make an XAML app, which is XML-based. Visual Studio has Visual Basic and Visual C++ project templates, and Windows developers can also use C# and Visual Basic when making apps.

I enjoyed Rami Sarieddine's clear, concise, knowledgeable writing, and the way he not only summarized every chapter at its end, but the entire book in the last chapter. I especially thought his introductions to HTML5 and CSS3 in the first two chapters were first-rate. There were times when I felt it would have been nice if he had been just as specific when doing the apps in Visual Studio. For example, I was unclear on how to run an app, and had to figure out how to do it myself. Despite these issues, his knowledge of of Windows 8 really comes across.

Developing Windows Store Apps with HTML5 and Javascript is published by Packt Publishing.