My good friend, former co-author, and occasional collaborator Chris Minnick — co-owner and -proprietor of the nice little company Minnick Web Services — is finishing up a book on the nifty Web browser engine technology called WebKit that Apple helped to develop to support Safari and other Internet-aware applications, but then threw open for the rest of the world to use and enjoy. You can probably guess the title for this upcoming book (it’s WebKit For Dummies, as the following cover shot illustrates).
Having now tech-edited 15 of the book’s 23 chapters, I’m in a pretty good position to give it a two-thumbs up rating of the “so far, so good” variety. Chris explains how to download and use WebKit (which basically functions as an extended edition of the Apple Safari browser, but also able to emulate most other browsers that might be of interest, including IE, Firefox, Opera, and so forth, with equal aplomb) for both the Macintosh and PC platforms. Not surprisingly because he’s a long-time Mac guy, he focuses primarily on Mac OS X (Lion) and iOS 5 (the common OS for newer iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices) when it comes to providing examples, illustrations, and screen shots. One of my most important tech-editing tasks, in fact, has been to make sure things work properly on the PC side as well as the Mac side, and I’m pleased to say I’ve found and fixed a few minor gotchas for him along the way.
The best part of the book so far is its coverage of how to build mobile Web sites for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and other mobile (smart)phone platforms. Turns out that WebKit is well enough engineered to make cross-platform sites relatively easy and straightforward to build, albeit with some user-agent checking and conditional logic to manage display presentation to match what a particular mobile site visitor sees with the mobile device he or she might be using. This does take some effort (and a fair amount of planning and thought) but is quite doable, and makes for some cool mobile site capabilities.
If your Web development and design thinking is heading in the mobile direction (and whose isn’t these days?) you’ll be well-advised to pre-order this book. It will start shipping on February 12, 2012, but there’s no reason not to get your order in early. Barnes & Noble already has a pre-order page up, as does Amazon. Give it a shot! You won’t be sorry. As for me, this recent infusion of Apple tools and technology — I’m now the proud but still somewhat befuddled owner of a MacBook Air, an iPhone 4S, an iPad 2, and an iPod Touch (with iOS 5, this little gem does everything the iPhone 4S can do except for voice recognition and phone capability–amazing) — is causing me to change the way I use computing for work and pleasure. See my recent blog for Windows Enterprise Desktop entitled “When Windows Turns Second-Class Citizen” for some further ruminations on these changes.