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Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide, Second Edition

Bill Phillips

It’s over! Brian, Kristin, Chris and I are finally done working on the second edition of Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide, Second Edition.

Looking back on it, though, it’s all a blur. We spent months working on it! We must have been up to something.

A New IDE

Oh yeah—how could I have forgotten about the new IDE? Google released Android Studio last year. It was possible to work through the old book in Android Studio, but it was getting more and more frustrating with each passing month.

The new edition doesn’t have that problem. The entire thing is done using Android Studio: all the shortcuts and screenshots have been updated, making the reader’s experience much more pleasant.

Android Studio is a delightful development environment, and we’ve put some effort into showing off how it can make your life easier as a developer.

New Versions Of Android

Of course, that’s not all that’s changed. Android has seen a few new releases since we published the first edition of our guide. This might be the most important thing for some people who are thinking about reading our book. They want to see it on the cover: “This book covers the latest and greatest: Android 5.1!”

I remember writing a whole chapter on implementing material design, as well as sections describing how JobScheduler works. So I’m pretty sure readers will find a lot of Android 5.1 stuff in the book. (We’ve even managed to squeeze in a few bits about the upcoming M release.)

A Changing World Of Devices

For someone scanning books on Amazon, the number “5.1” is their best clue that a book is up-to-date. Android 5.1 is not yet installed on most devices, though. We’d be doing our readers a disservice if all we did was add a bunch of new content for a version of Android you can’t yet focus on.

In our first edition, many devices were still running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, so our code samples all ran on that version. Our new code listings are a lot cleaner now: they get rid of that ugly compatibility code, focusing on Android Jelly Bean and later releases. So we must have gone through and fixed all that stuff.

New Compatibility Tools

What about all the stuff in the support libraries that has changed? People don’t usually look for that on the cover, but that’s some of the coolest stuff in Android! If I were reading a book, I’d want to know about cool stuff like the RecyclerView and the new AppCompatActivity. And what about FloatingActionButton, or Snackbar? Those things are so handy, I would feel really bad if we published a new version without talking about them somewhere.

Wait—hmm. I guess we put those in the new edition, too.

New and Updated Chapters

Jeez, that’s a lot of new stuff. We really put a lot of work into this thing.

But wait a second; there are some new chapters in this table of contents, too. There’s one here on property animators that I don’t think was in the first edition, plus a whole chapter on material design implementation tools. Who wrote a whole chapter on how theming works? That’s pretty awesome (I always hated having to deal with that stuff).

The older chapters look like they’ve been updated, too. SQLite is much earlier in the book than it was in the first edition—it looks like the big CriminalIntent example has a database back end now, which is pretty nifty. And the entire mapping and location exercise sequence has been completely rewritten, with a brand new sample app.

Go get it!

I’m playing it up a bit for this blog post, but I’m not kidding, either. I had really forgotten how much stuff we put into this edition. I didn’t even talk about all the work we put into refining and polishing, fixing continuity issues and bugs, either.

The whole point, of course, is to make your time getting up to speed on the latest and greatest in Android development easy and pleasant. So go pre-order a copy! We hope you find it useful. (We also hope that you remember the stuff we put in there better than I did.)

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