03 June 2012

Tony Mullen - 3D for IPhone Apps with Blender and SIO2: Your Guide to Creating 3D Games and More with Open-source Software - Book Review

I ordered this book from amazon a while back and it finally arrived. I have been looking forward to reading it for a couple of reasons, the first being that it's another Tony Mullen book and this is a good enough reason for me, the second being that it covers an area of software development for the iPhone while using Blender 3D software, which I have not seen in a book up to this point.
  • Product Specifications:
  • Name : IPhone Apps with Blender and SIO2
  • Price : £20.49 (on 4th March 2010)
  • Pages : 289 (roughly)
  • Format : Book

The first thing I should make clear is that I run and use a Linux Fedora 12 operating system platform, I have never and most likely will never own an Apple Macintosh or iPhone!

This you would think would matter given that this book covers software development on an all Apple software toolchain. You will need an Apple Mac to follow along with the tutorials presented within the book. So even though the Blender and SIO2 game environments are opensourced, the iPhone SDK and Apple Mac are not.

The book does a very good job of covering the basics of how to develop iPhone applications in concert with SIO2 and Blender 2.49. So even though I don't own any Apple software I was able to follow along with the tutorials presented in the book and understand the clear and well described tutorials. SIO2 for those who do not know is the equivalent of Blenders Game Engine but for an iPhone.

Although Tony presents everything in a clear and concise manner, this book NOT for beginners, he does take some time to describe and go through much of the background information a beginner would need to follow along. However something as big and complex and C programming and OpenGL programming and SIO2 game engine programming is just not able to be covered in enough depth in such a small page count, so many times the book refers the reader to the relevant websites for more information. You will be expected to both understand C/C++/Objective C, and OpenGL. There are many code examples and some are slightly advanced but they are well described and clearly laid out.

The appendices at the back of the book will be very useful to beginners in getting them upto speed with Blender and the very basics of terminology with OpenGL.

The book starts by going through the steps required to install the iPhone SDK, configuring XCode (Apples graphical programming IDE), obtaining and installing Blender and SIO2 installation and setup for use with the iPhone OS. How to use the iPhone simulator is gone over, showing the user how to use it for debugging and testing while developing iPhone apps. Once the setup and installation preliminaries have been gotten out of the way the book then moves to actually developing a very simple Hello World type demonstration application which covers getting applications running in the iPhone simulator and uploading it to an actual iPhone device.

Once the demonstration application is covered the book moves on to creating a useful application from the ground up in stages. The first Application displays a rotatable Globe on the iPhone which responds to screen touches and tapping.

I found the sections on baking and using texture and materials as well as unwrapping textures from Blender and the details of how to export them to SIO2 using the export script very easy to understand, and I think even if a person had never used Blender before, they would be clear on what to do.

The coverage of animation and actions within Blender and how to use them within SIO2 was brief but very easy to understand. By the end of the book you have a little usable iPhone application which covers a lot of the features and functionality of the Apple iPhone.

The very last section covers widgets, rounding out the books coverage of iPhone and was a little brief but still useful.

So all in all the book does what it says on the cover, but only if you come with required prerequisites of understanding at least a little of Blender, C Programming and OpenGL information and transformations or at the very least are prepared to do a little background research.

Excellent book, clearly written and get right to the point.

Review Score 85%