Jetpack Compose Book Review

2022-02-01

Compose yourself

Jetpack Compose, by Google, has taken the Android native development world by storm. This declarative style of building UIs are empowering mobile developers to build sophisticated, maintainable and testable user interfaces that were challenging, if not impossible, using the older XML-based approach.

As always, learning a new technology can be a daunting task, which is why I was thrilled to chance upon a book by Thomas Künneth called Android UI Development with Jetpack Compose, published by Packt Publishing.

The journey begins where it should

Thomas assumes you know nothing about Jetpack Compose, which is great, because with this paradigm shift, it’s important to put aside what you think you know and dive into how Compose works on Android.

Right off the bat, you start building small example applications, highlighting features of Compose, teaching you how to go about planning your UI with your new knowledge.

Of course, he doesn’t just stop at the basic “Hello, World!” examples. Along the way, you do a deep dive into understanding how Compose works under the hood, how declarative UI development differs and how you can make the most of this powerful new tool.

Code, code, code everywhere

I particularly enjoyed the wealth of examples that show you how to build “standard” Android UI elements quickly in Compose, while also teaching you productivity tips and tricks along the way. The book also doesn’t shy away from more complex topics, like animation and visual effects. Again, there are practical code examples that show you how to approach these tasks.

Another thing that stood out for me was that there’s very good coverage that explains how you can and should use Compose with the more traditional Android UI elements. You don’t have to throw away everything you know and you can use Compose where it makes sense. This is very useful for us that are maintaining large, existing applications that can’t just be rewritten to use Compose for everything.

What about making sure

Writing mobile applications can be a real challenge, and testing is really important. The chapter on testing not only explains how it works in Compose, but also gives you practical examples on how to do testing and debugging.

Finally, the book even offers some sneak peeks into Compose for Desktop and Web, along with some insights into where Compose is going and what’s coming down the road.

Something for you and me and everyone else

As someone that’s used Compose in production, I was delighted to learn so much from the book. The explanations of how Compose works under the hood, helped me expand my knowledge and definitely made me a better Compose developer. This book will be of great value to anyone working with Compose, even if they have some real practical experience.



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