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Diane Cipollo (Editor at BellaOnline.com)

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Facebook Graph API Development with Flash
Facebook Graph API Development with Flash
by Michael James Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Facebook Graph API Development with Flash, 24 April 2011
Facebook has changed a lot over the past few years. Most important is the new Graph API, introduced April 2010, and how it simplified developing apps for Facebook. Many businesses, large and small, are adding their branded apps to Facebook. It's not surprising that Flash developers want to get involved in the Facebook craze. Facebook Graph API Development with Flash by Michael James Williams is for the Flash developer who knows nothing about Facebook.

The book is presented as a beginner's guide and this is true as far as the Facebook aspects covered. However, this is not true for the Flash aspects covered in the book. The author assumes that you are familiar with advanced Flash application development. If you have no experience in this area, you may find the last two-thirds of the book difficult to understand. However, if you are a Flash developer who needs to learn how to integrate Flash projects with Facebook, this book can help.

The author supplies a pre-built Flash project called Visualizer which contains the ActionScript class structure and the UI for the sample application. These sample files are downloadable from the publisher's website and compatible with Flash Builder, FlashDevelop and Flash CS3 and above. Williams progressively builds upon this basic application throughout the book.

I really enjoyed the author's teaching approach. As he introduces each new Facebook concept, he first explains how it fuctions via a web browser. After you have an understanding of how the Facebook feature works, he explains the code in the Visualizer project that will perform the same task.

The first few chapters cover the basics for building a Facebook application including setting up a website for your application, exploring the Facebook Graph API and registering your app on Facebook. He then covers what you will need to build, test and debug your AS3 project.

It's the Facebook Graph API and Facebook's FQL that will pass information about the user to your application. Williams explains the available information that can be accessed by your app and how to code these requests with ActionScript. At this point, he introduces the Adobe ActionScript 3 SDK for Facebook. Williams then explains the options for integrating your app with Facebook including iframe, FBML, the page tab and from your website. He also covers authorization through AIR and on Android.

Finally, you are ready to publish your app to Facebook. Williams gets back to basics again as he discusses creating a profile page for your app and the Facebook Application Directory.

Michael James Williams is a Flash developer and technical writer for Activetuts+. He also has a Flash game development blog

*Packt Publishing provided a review copy to me free of charge.


jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide
jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide
by Dan Wellman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques Beginner's Guide, 24 April 2011
There are many ways to learn jQuery. There are examples and tutorials all over the web. But, I found myself reading several tutorials and downloading several examples just to understand one jQuery effect. That's when I decided to turn to the printed page and checked Amazon for the latest books to get the background knowledge needed to create my own jQuery animations.

jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques Beginner's Guide, by Dan Wellman, caught my eye because it took a different approach to teaching jQuery. The author concentrates on the animations one can create with the jQuery UI Library, CSS3 and the HTML5 canvas element. Most of the examples in the book are for web user interface elements and the sample code can be downloaded from the publisher's website.

The book starts with the simple built-in jQuery effects and builds up to creating custom animations. Although jQuery claims to be browser independent, the author does cover some of the work-arounds needed for the Internet Explorer browser.

As you would expect, the book begins with an introduction to jQuery and the most common built-in jQuery effects. The author teaches how to use a template as the base file for all the examples covered in the book, which is very helpful to the beginner when creating the first animation example in the book, a preloader. From simple animations, the author moves on to sequencing several animations, queue management and creating jQuery plugins.

Next, he discusses the jQuery UI and how to use this library of 14 effects to extend jQuery methods. At this point, the author gives a few examples of animating graphics. I especially like the bouncing ball and the window blinds that opened with a click of the mouse. Moving progressively to more complex animations, the author covers full page animations such as a stick man stop-motion walk cycle, mouse proximity events and an interactive game based on the canvas element.

Although this is a beginner's book on jQuery animation, the author assumes the reader has a working knowledge of JavaScript, HTML, CSS and some jQuery. I have to admit that I was hoping for more coverage of complex jQuery animations but this book would be good for anyone new to jQuery animation.

Dan Wellman is an author of several books and a web developer for the Design Haus agency.

*Packt Publishing provided a review copy to me free of charge.


Painter X Creativity: Digital Artist's handbook
Painter X Creativity: Digital Artist's handbook
by Jeremy Sutton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.99

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goes beyond software basics, 30 April 2008
This book is more like an art class. The author, Jeremy Sutton, teaches the technical aspects of Corel Painter X and then goes beyond that to share his hard-earned tips and expertise for digital art creation and production. His personal secrets are what makes this book stand out among the crowd. The goal of the author is to teach readers both the software and also creativity. Although it still has the same format as previous books, this latest effort not only covers the new Painter X features but has been rewritten with new and better projects.

One of the many features in this book that makes it more like an art class than a book is how the author walks the reader through the setup for their own digital art studio from optimizing their computer and color management to fine tuning the Wacom tablet. Besides this technical stuff, the author discusses his own production tested techniques. I especially liked his Project-Version-Notes folder and file naming convention.

From this point, the author discusses the Painter X tools and interface and then how to customize the palettes and workspace for your own needs. Painter X brushes are the next topic and Sutton includes a nice glossary of sample brush strokes for each of the major brush categories. Next, he discusses how to experiment with different brush variants and how he maintains and organizes his ever increasing list of favorites. This production tip alone will save the reader much wasted time.

The thing that makes any artwork stand out from the crowd is the ability of the artist to go beyond the basics of the software. One way to do this is to create your own brushes, textures and patterns. After discussing the ins-and-outs of these features, Sutton shows you how to use your own customized tools to take your artwork to the next level.

The second part of the book concentrates on several case studies that demonstrate design and composition. Sutton discusses some methods that are only available in a digital environment such as generating several variations of the same artwork as a starting point for a project. Finally, he discusses how creating scripts can be a time saver and a teaching aid.

There were a few things that I have seen covered in books of this type for many years including techniques for creating a digital painting from a photo and digital collage. Although these topics are still popular, I would have preferred that those pages of the book were used to introduce some new ideas.

Readers have come to expect this type of book to have supporting tutorial image files and extra goodies such as brushes and training videos and this book has that. There are some nice extras including custom workspace layouts that the author has built for his own production needs and uses throughout the book. Any artist knows how useful these real world, production proven resources can be compared to the usually list of bland goodies found on a book's CD.

Jeremy Sutton's artwork is collected worldwide and he is the author of several books and video tutorials.


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