Master Mobile Web Apps with jQuery Mobile, Third Edition

***** Nov242012

This review is a follow-up to my review of the first edition of Master Mobile Web Apps.

New! If you’re on the go, you can listen to this review (about 5 minutes).

Aside from providing a thorough introduction to jQuery Mobile (jQM) in general, Master Mobile Web Apps, Third Edition covers all of the new features and improvements in jQuery Mobile 1.2.0. Furthermore, the author has added (in the second edition) an impressive new example app that touches on everything from setting up XCode to using the Google Maps API.

What’s new in Master Mobile Web Apps, Third Edition

While some of the content is unchanged, much has been added since the first edition (which itself was a clear and complete book on the then-current state of jQuery Mobile). Obviously, all the new features of jQuery Mobile are covered, such as the new popup widget, new loading spinner options, and new listview filter options. It would be helpful to have a little call-out in the margin to indicate what is new or changed in the latest code, so someone familiar with previous editions (or previous versions of jQM) can scan to the most important parts. There has also been some reorganization: at first I was disappointed to see the section on creating and using your own custom icons missing from this edition, until I realized it has simply been moved to an expanded section on theming included as Appendix C: “Advanced Theming”.

Better than the docs

Like its first incarnation, this book assumes a working knowledge of jQuery and Javascript. Familiarity with CSS might be helpful too, but I think a big appeal of jQuery Mobile for the less design-inclined is that, especially using the new Theme Roller (described in Chapter 10), you can actually create a decent-looking app without touching any CSS. As with the first edition, though, this book doesn’t assume any familiarity with jQuery Mobile. Reading it from beginning to end and studying the examples will give even a beginner a solid understanding of all the jQM functionality.

The jQuery Mobile docs are well-organized, thorough, and an invaluable resource, but this book provides a couple of things you won’t find there:

Table of data-attributes

Appendix B — “Complete Data Attribute Reference” — is just that. Data-attributes are at the heart of structuring and configuring a jQM app, and this table lists each data attribute in alphabetical order, along with a description, including the possible values and the elements it can apply to. This is a handy reference, since finding this information in the jQM docs means navigating to the Options tab of each individual widget’s page.

Example Apps

The first app is a task-manager web app for multiple users. It includes common functionality you’d find in most web apps: registration, login and other account tasks; displaying lists and popups; communicating with a database. The authors provide complete, well-commented code to handle the backend, and each function is briefly explained. The second app, not included in the first edition, is even more ambitious. The end product is an app which will list a devices’ contacts by city, and then display them on a Google Map. However, going beyond just a web-accessible app, the author also explains all the steps needed to use PhoneGap (Cordova) to bundle your app in a native wrapper and submit it to the app store.

For even an experienced web developer who knows jQuery well, this can at first seem a daunting process, involving Phonegap, XCode, Apple Developer’s Licenses, etc. But the book steps patiently through the process, even including such finishing details as the right dimensions for launch images and icons (information which is surpisingly hard to find in one place on the interwebs).


Matt Doyle, author of Master Mobile Web Apps has more than kept his promise to update this book as jQuery Mobile evolves (and provide new editions free to previous purchasers). I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to start building web and native-like apps with jQM, for developers needing to keep up with the latest jQM features, and as a supplement to the jQM docs.

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