Adobe Edge Animate: The Missing Manual – #bookreview

Adobe Edge Animate: The Missing Manual
Chris Grover
(O’Reilly, paperbackKindle)

Chris Grover’s well-written and updated new book shows you how to build animated HTML 5 graphics for the iPhone, the iPad, and the Web, using familiar Adobe features. By the sixth page of the first chapter, you are using the software to begin creating your first animation.

The previous edition of this book, covering Adobe Edge Animate Preview 7, was released just two months ago, shortly before Adobe released the 1.0 commercial version of its Edge Animate product. This new edition has been updated and expanded to cover the commercial version.

Prior to the 1.0 release, seven Preview versions of Adobe Edge Animate had been issued as free downloads, and user feedback was gathered so the product could be enhanced and expanded.

Here is what I reported about this book’s Preview 7 edition in an  October, 2012, review:

First, this book can help you get started with the 1.0 commercial version of Adobe Edge Animate. Second, O’Reilly will soon bring out an Adobe Edge Animate “Missing Manual” that covers the new commercial release. And, third, sources at O’Reilly tell me that readers who purchase this Preview 7 edition of Chris Grover’s book will get access to “the e-book version of Adobe Edge Animate the 1.0 version and all of its updates.”

The new edition of Adobe Edge Animate: The Missing Manual has ten chapters organized into five parts, even though page xiv of the paperback version states that the book is “divided into three parts.” (It then lists four parts, instead of  five, or three).  The new part in this edition is titled “Publishing Animate Compositions” and focuses on “Publishing Responsive Web Pages” that will look good “in web browsers of all shapes and sizes….” Here are the new edition’s parts and chapters:

Part One:Working with the Stage

  • Chapter 1: Introducing Adobe Edge Animate
  • Chapter 2: Creating and Animating Art
  • Chapter 3: Adding and Formatting Text

Part Two: Animation with Edge Animate

  • Chapter 4: Learning Timeline and Transition Techniques
  • Chapter 5: Triggering Actions
  • Chapter 6: Working Smart with Symbols

Part Three: Edge Animate with HTML 5 and JavaScript

  • Chapter 7: Working with Basic HTML and CSS
  • Chapter 8: Controlling Your Animations with JavaScript and jQuery
  • Chapter 9: Helpful JavaScript Tricks

Part Four: Publishing Your Composition

  • Chapter 10: Publishing Responsive Web Pages

Part Five: Appendixes

  • Appendix A: Installation and Help
  • Appendix B: Menu by Menu

Where keystrokes are appropriate, Chris Grover lists both and does not make you have to translate between systems, as some how-to manuals do.

“Animate works almost precisely the same in its Macintosh and Windows versions,” he assures. “Every button in every dialog box is exactly the same; the software response to ever command is identical. In this book, the illustrations have been given even-handed treatment, rotating between the two operating systems where Animate is at home (Windows 7 and Mac OS X).”

Si Dunn

For more information: (O’Reilly, paperback, Kindle)

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Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS, 2nd Edition – Dynamic websites #programming #bookreview

Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS, 2nd Edition
Robin Nixon
(O’Reilly, paperbackKindle)

Robin Nixon recently has updated and expanded his popular 2009 “step-by-step guide to creating dynamic websites.” The new edition has an added section that focuses on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), so the book “now covers all four of the most popular web development technologies.”

Nixon notes: “The real beauty of PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, and CSS is the way in which they all work together to produce dynamic web content: PHP handles the main work on the web server, MySQL manages all of the data, and the combination of CSS and JavaScript looks after web page presentation. JavaScript can also talk with your PHP code on the web server whenever it needs to update something (either on the server or on the web page).”

The book’s opening chapters introduce (1) what dynamic web content means and (2) how to set up a development server on your Windows PC, Mac, or Linux machine. After that, Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, & CSS, 2nd Edition follows the structure outlined by its title. First, you get a five-chapter tutorial on PHP programming. Then, two chapters show how to use MySQL. One additional chapter shows how to access MySQL using PHP, and two related chapters deal with (1) form handling and (2) cookies, sessions and authentication, using PHP and MySQL.

Three chapters introduce JavaScript programming. A fourth chapter covers “JavaScript and PHP Validation and Error Handling.” And one additional chapter describes “how to implement Ajax using JavaScript.”

Ajax, Nixon explains, “not only substantially reduces the amount of data that must be sent back and forth [between a browser and a server] but also makes web pages seamlessly dynamic, allowing them to behave more like self-contained applications.”

CSS gets its turn next, with an introductory chapter, a chapter on advanced CSS with CSS3, and a chapter on accessing CSS from JavaScript.

Finally, in the “Bringing It All Together” chapter, Nixon shows how to build a simple social networking site, using all of the tools introduced in the book.

Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, & CSS, 2nd Edition is an excellent how-to guide for web development beginners who have moderate computer skills and a little bit of experience with HTML and static web pages. The book is nicely written and well-illustrated, and the code examples generally are easy to follow. Screen shots and other descriptions of expected results also can help keep you moving forward on the right path.

No book can cover everything you need to know, of course, particularly when several different types of software are involved. You may need occasional help from someone who has used one or more of the described programs. And some of the screen examples may appear a bit different on your machine as new software updates are released. But Robin Nixon’s updated edition can take you a long way toward the goal of learning how to design, create, post, and maintain dynamic web pages, using free, open source tools.

Si Dunn

Ubuntu Made Easy – A simple, well-guided way to try Linux without installing it – #bookreview

Ubuntu Made Easy: A Project-Based Introduction to Linux
Rickford Grant, with Phil Bull
(No Starch Press
, paperbackKindle)

Curious about Linux? (Many of us are.) Wondering if you should put it on one of your PCs and venture out into a different realm that some of our geek friends constantly tell us is “better” (or even “vastly better”) than Windows?

The Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) CD that is packaged with this book “lets you both try Ubuntu without installing it and install Ubuntu to your hard drive once you’re ready,” the writers note. “It’s called a live CD. You can boot your computer from the CD and run Ubuntu directly off the CD without touching your hard disk to see if you like Ubuntu and to make sure that Ubuntu will work with your hardware. If, after running the live CD, you like what you see and everything seems to work, you can install Ubuntu on your computer using the same disc.”

During the installation process, you can choose to install Ubuntu to run within Windows (with slightly limited functionality), using the Wubi installer. Or you can take the full plunge and install Ubuntu outside of Windows. You can put it in a separate partition and create a Windows-Linux dual-boot setup. Or you can replace Windows with Linux, after carefully backing up all of your important data.

Ubuntu Made Easy: A Project-Based Introduction to Linux offers plenty of clear how-to information, screen shots, and step-by-step tips in its 22 chapters and four appendices. One detailed chapter covers how to fix common problems that may be encountered. The book’s cover is goofy, but the contents are solid.

The projects in this book primarily are exercises that help you put your new Linux and Ubuntu knowledge to work. You will learn, the authors state, how to “configure and customize your Ubuntu system.” And the book is organized “so that, as much as possible, you won’t be asked to do something that you haven’t already learned.”

Specifically, the projects range from (1) setting up printers, scanners, flash drives and other devices so they work with Linux, to(2) creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with the office-related applications, to (3) installing and playing free games and editing and sharing digital videos and photographs, to (4) using or staying away from the Linux command line.

Ubuntu Made Easy is not a book that will appeal to “seasoned geeks or power users” with Linux experience, the authors concede. But it does take a lot of the mystery out of what “running Linux” actually means.

The book and Ubuntu CD can make it simple and affordable for many computer users to see what much of the hype and hoopla over Linux is all about — and then decide, from first-hand experience, if they want to join in or not.

Si Dunn