Head First Mobile Web Book Review

Head First Mobile Web Book Review

Once again I want to thank O'Reilly for their wonderful Blogger Review Program that allows me to read some really good books in exchange for book reviews. I've started to enjoy the Head First Series of books after recently reading Head First jQuery and Head First HTML5 Programming. Head First Mobile Web is another great title in this series of development books that demysitfies mobile web development by introducing the mobile web developer to a plethora of technologies and solutions for developing mobile websites, including: responsive web design using HTML5 and CSS3 media queries; progressive, mobile-first responsive web design; mobile device detection; jQuery Mobile; and PhoneGap Build.

Responsive Web Design and Progressive Mobile-First Web Design

My particular interest in the book centered around responsive web design. I develop quite a few websites that don't need a separate mobile website, but need a website that will display well on mobile phones and tablets. Head First Mobile Web provides a nice overview and examples of developing mobile websites using HTML5 and CSS3 media queries both taking an existing desktop-focused website and "degrading" nicely as well as developing a responsive mobile-first website using progressive enhancement.

Developing a Separate Mobile Website - jQuery Mobile

Depending on your needs you may be more interested in developing a separate mobile website. I've already developed a few websites using jQuery Mobile so I was in more familiar territory here. Head First Mobile Web walks you through developing a website using jQuery Mobile, but it also threw a few things at me that I wasn't aware of. First, was XHTML-MP and XHTML Basic which are older standards for developing mobile websites that support older phones and feature phones. This is pre-HTML5 stuff and interesting to read about, but I'm not touching it :) Just good to know.

There are also 2 chapters on device detection, device databases, and sniffing user agents, etc. This stuff isn't for the feint of heart and not the most interesting stuff to read, but it's real-world talk about how you detect mobile devices and handle them gracefully. If you are deep into mobile development, these 2 chapters are filled with the nitty gritty details. I enjoyed the jQuery Mobile part which I am familiar with, but really just skimmed the device detection bits as I don't "need" that information at the moment.

Adding Offline Support and Geolocation to Mobile Web Apps

Here is where Head First Mobile Web starts to look at a couple of more interesting parts of mobile web development using some HTML 5 Programming in the way of Geolocation support as well as the cache manifest, etc. to develop offline web applications. I've already familiarized myself with these two topics in Head First HTML5 Programming and HTML5 The Missing Manual, but Head First Mobile Web provides a nice spin on these topics from a mobile web application perspective.

Hybrid Mobile Apps with PhoneGap

I really didn't think it was possible to toss in anymore mobile web development topics, but Head First Mobile Web then discusses how to use PhoneGap Build to create a hybrid Android App. In addition to teaching you how to use PhoneGap Build, the chapter also dives into LocalStorage, more device detection, and the mediaCapture API.

Conclusion

If you've decided it is time to start developing mobile websites and applications or just trying to understand your technical options as well as various resources, Head First Mobile Web is a great way to get your feet wet. It's got such a nice offering of topics: responsive web design, developing separate mobile websites using jQuery Mobile, the nitty gritty details of mobile device detection, and how to develop hybrid mobile apps using PhoneGap Build. In between those gems it also teaches you a bit about HTML5 Programming topics like LocalStorage, Geolocation, Offline Web Apps, etc.

Once you get used to all the visual effects you have to love the Head First Series of books. Learn more about Head First Mobile Web on O'Reilly!