Despite some minor issues, Packt’s “Unity UI Cookbook” by Francesco Sapio is an invaluable tool for mastering the ins and outs of “Unity 5.x’s” updated User Interface (UI) system. Unity Technologies has made significant strides, over the last year, in expanding the UI system for their cross-platform game engine, and Nintendo Wii U exclusive development tool. In the past, many developers relied on third-party programs to improve the on-screen interface. While some of those add-ons still offer a quicker road to customization, “Unity 3D” finally offers its own out-of-the-box solution, for those interested in learning it.
It’s important to remember that the “Unity UI Cookbook” is more of a collection of solutions than exercises by example. This means that while the book will start off explaining how to create timers and health bars, it doesn’t provide an example that uses them. While examples might be more useful for “Unity 3D” beginners, it would make using this book as a reference tool more difficult. The book does however, provide relevant code snippets in C# to interact with the UI functions it covers.
From counters and health bars, the “Unity UI Cookbook” quickly moves on to timers, and how to create menu panels. Once the basics are covered, the cookbook moves on to decorating and customizing the UI. This includes adding visual effects to the text and background, and moves on to animation for both a menu system and other onscreen elements. These sections are logically followed by a chapter about applying runtime customizations like color sliders and text input fields, along with how to create relevant user feedback for those fields.
The “Unity UI Cookbook” covers the basic heads-up display like health and timers pretty early on, but then revisits HUDs in the later chapters. The eighth chapter explains how to implement a distance display, directional radar, and a method of displaying subtitles. While the book, refers to the text display exclusively as “subtitles,” it actually explains how to add pictures and titles to the narrative text, which in many cases is used without an accompanying audio file. The “Unity UI Cookbook” finishes up with 3D UIs and creating minimaps. Unfortunately, the minimap instructions do require that the reader owns a professional license for “Unity 5.”
Overall, the “Unity UI Cookbook” is a worthwhile purchase for those looking for more insight into “Unity’s” new UI system. While this probably shouldn’t be a beginner’s first book, it should at least be on the list. At just over 250 pages, this cookbook offers a lot of solutions, even if they’re not entirely self-contained examples. The author does also try to give the reader as much relevant information as possible, though some sections are a bit wordy, and are more difficult to follow. Despite these minor issues, the “Unity UI Cookbook” is a handy reference to have.
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