Sencha Touch books – Cookbook

I started to look into Sencha touch ‘seriously’ about a year ago.  Having spent a short while on it about a year ago with the intention of doing a lot more – but as ever time flies on by. I now have 3 Sencha touch books and I’m getting my head back into Touch (and Ext JS) so thought I’d review the books to advise how good or not they are.

The first one is the new Sencha Touch Cookbook 2nd Edition. I may be an experienced programmer with Flex/Actionscript but when it comes to Touch I’m definitely a newbie. So if you are looking to learn Touch then you’re probably in the same boat as myself. So is it worth getting or not? That is pretty much the main question and from what I’ve gone through I’d say YES – if you’re a beginner or maybe even an intermediate that is.

Why?

Well if like me you can’t stand config and you want to get into the code as soon as, then the initial part of the cookbook comes with some of the following

  • Setting up the Android-based development
  • Setting up the iOS-based development
  • Setting up the Blackberry-based development (not quite sure how useful this will be now 🙂 but its there anyway)
  • general config and detecting features

It also shows you how to set up for tools such as Eclipse and running the code in a simulator. Again if you’re new then this will save so much time as config can be hit or miss when you’re not sure where to start and just wish to get going.

What I did find odd was that at the start of every recipe it had a ‘Getting ready’ section that pointed you to chapter 1 to get things set up.

Most of the recipes did have a ‘How it works’ part which focused on the parts of the code which make that particular recipe work and on the whole they add to the learning from the book. As an experienced programmer I know that there is more to code that just writing small snippets that do stuff and I’d have liked to see some best practise code examples. When doing something new its all to easy to get into bad habits because it works and next thing you know you have spaghetti and unmaintainable code! Sencha have created a great way to write Javascript in a OO way that helps you keep it organised and structured, so it would be great to see a few good/bad examples highlighting the common mistakes that developers make. But I suppose that sort of guide might not necessarily be for a cookbook.

For a recipe book it covers a fairly wide range of topics. Charts, videos, offline storage, Google maps, taking a picture, XML etc so it covers a large enough amount of topics to help you get started.   Overall its a recipe book, so its code is short snippets that doesn’t  really need to show best practise but it does show you how to do things.  So what I found myself doing was flicking through some of the examples in the book then I went to get a more in depth explanation elsewhere.

Conclusion

I liked it, but its not the only book that you will need should you wish to get into Sencha Touch, but certainly worth getting alongside a reference book.
Sencha Touch Cookbook 2nd Edition

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Sencha touch – IDE??

Being a Flex dev for a number of years and deciding that its about time I try out something new and seeing all the hype surrounding Sencha touch I spent a week too two weeks looking at it. It comes across like it is aiming at a very similar market to Flex so I was quite excited about trying it.
Version 2 was just out and it had some path issues for installing etc but the guys at Sencha appeared to be working very hard to get rid of all the little issues and these are now resolved. So I tried to find an IDE/plugin or similar that would allow me to code in the same way as I do Flex/Actionscript.

I tried Netbeans, Webstorm, Aptana, various Eclipse with javascript plugins and quite a few others that I can’t quite remember but NONE of them gave me a similar experience as Flex/Flashbuilder. As in code completion, catching errors etc. I know that javascript is really slack (in a similar way that AS2 was) but when you try something for the first time a good IDE is worth its weight in gold for helping to learn. The Sencha docs are also really good, but why should I have to keep looking at them to see what features are available for the components I want to use.

As I was a real newbie with javascript & Sencha I decided to go to a boot camp & conference on Sencha to speed up my learning, thinking that I’d see what tools they used as there must have been something out there which would make creating Sencha apps feel like programming and the answer was NO!

I did find out how much Chrome is a great tool for web programmers, but it really doesn’t cut it compared to normal development. Brackets from Adobe also sounds like its getting there for web/Javascript development, but its not aimed at Sencha.

 

SO, after the courses and testing of Sencha I decided that I’d NOT touch it again until it had a decent IDE or plugin for an IDE. Well it looks like the guys at Sencha have listened and they have a beta out for an Eclipse plugin. http://t.co/PYpC1WJf  Its a private enrolement at the moment, but fingers crossed 🙂

 

I said at the time that I didn’t think Sencha wasn’t quite ready, but with an IDE and Sencha Architect (which I really liked, its like a working version of Flashbuilder in design mode) I’m willing to give it another go. Here’s hoping they let me in to give it a test.

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