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Ajax in Action Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Manning Publications; 1 edition (October 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932394613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932394610
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A tremendously useful field guide specifically written for developers down in the trenches...waiting for the killer solution..." -- Val's Blog

From the Inside Flap

Preface Sometimes your destiny will follow you around for years before you notice it. Amidst the medley of fascinating new technologies that I was playing—I mean working—with in the early 1990s was a stunted little scripting language called JavaScript. I soon realized that, despite its name, it didn’t really have anything to do with my beloved Java, but it persistently dogged my every step.

By the late 90s, I had decided to cut my hair and get a proper job, and found myself working with the early adopters of digital set-top box technology. The user interface for this substantial piece of software was written entirely in JavaScript and I found myself the technical lead of a small team of developers writing window-management code, schedulers, and all kinds of clever stuff in this language. "How curious," I thought. "It’ll never catch on."

With time I moved on to more demanding work, developing the enterprise messaging backbone and various user interface components for an "intelligent," talking "House of the Future." I was hired for my Java skills, but I was soon writing fancy JavaScript user interfaces again. It was astonishing to find that some people were now taking this scripting language seriously enough to write frameworks for it. I quickly picked up the early versions of Mike Foster’s x library (which you’ll find put into occasional action in this book). One afternoon, while working on an email and text message bulletin board, I had the weird, exciting idea of checking for new messages in a hidden frame and adding them to the user interface without refreshing the screen. After a few hours of frenzied hacking, I had it working, and I’d even figured out how to render the new messages in color to make them noticeable to the user. "What a laugh," I thought, and turned back to some serious code. Meantime, unbeknownst to me, Eric Costello, Erik Hatcher, Brent Ashley, and others were thinking along similar lines, and Microsoft was cooking up the XMLHttpRequest for its Outlook Web Access.

Destiny was sniffing at my heels. My next job landed me in a heavy-duty development role, building software for big Tier 1 banks. We use a mixture of Java and JavaScript and employ tricks with hidden frames and other things. My team currently looks after more than 1.5 million bytes of such code—that’s static JavaScript, in addition to code we generate from JSPs. No, I’m not counting any image resources in there either. We use it to develop applications for hundreds of operators managing millions of dollars’ worth of accounts. Your bank account may well be managed by this software.

Somewhere along the way, JavaScript had grown up without my quite realizing it. In February 2005, Jesse James Garrett provided the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle. He gave a short, snappy name to the cross-browser-asynchronous-rich-client-dynamic-HTML-client-server technology that had been sneaking up on us all for the last few years: Ajax.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Ajax is generating a lot of interest now, and a lot of good code is getting written by the people behind Prototype, Rico, Dojo, qooxdoo, Sarissa, and numerous other frameworks, too plentiful to count. Actually, we do try to count them, in appendix C. We think we’ve rounded up most of the suspects. And I’ve never had so much fun playing—I mean working—with computers.

We have not arrived yet. The field is still evolving. I was amazed to see just how much when I did the final edits in September on the first chapter that I wrote back in May! There’s still a lot of thinking to be done on this subject, and the next year or two will be exciting. I’ve been very lucky to have Eric and Darren on the book piece of the journey with me so far.

We hope you will join us—and enjoy the ride.

Dave Crane


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Customer Reviews

This book is a very good overview Ajax and its technologies.
John Wetherbie
The author seems to be on a crusade to rid the world of bad coding practices, and though I fully salute his efforts, I think this book is horribly mis-titled.
D. Klebanov
The book has lots of examples that you'll find useful to fully understand what is going on.
Prasad Reddy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Let me first preface this review by saying this is the first technical book that I've read cover to cover TWICE prior to posting a review. I had to make sure the stuff stuck, because the material covered in Manning's very excellent "Ajax in Action" is really deep. But bringing the next evolution of user experience, giving your web applications a rich client feel, isn't completely easy. This won't scare you away from using Ajax in your existing applications, but make you aware of exactly what to expect.

The book first starts out by presenting a healthy discussion of the key components of remote scripting - CSS, the DOM, JavaScript's XmlHttpRequest object and client callbacks - and how they interact within the scope of your project. Before diving into full-on Ajax development, authors Dave Crane and Eric Pascarello discuss the need for object-oriented JavaScript programing, which will be foreign and awkward to most developers, even those coming from procedural backgrounds like Java and C++. The authors familiarize you with the various ways of composing the unconventional constructs available (JSON-RPC, prototypes) for optimizing remote scripting.

Best practices are encouraged throughout the chapters and enforced in all code snippets. The use of patterns like Observer, Command and MVC and refactoring and module-based programming (mainly .NET assemblies and Java servlets) permeate the entire work. The actual meat of the book doesn't get started until Chapter 9, which the authors clearly state, dealing with the aforementioned discussion of raw JavaScript programming that'll be completely new to most people. But for those not wanting to engage in the massive task of writing syntax by hand, the major libraries available are thankfully referenced.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Ernest Friedman-Hill VINE VOICE on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ajax is a Web programming technique that lets you develop rich, dynamic, interactive interfaces using nothing but JavaScript, HTML and CSS on the desktop. It's changing the landscape of the Web, and this book will help you gear up to be part of the revolution. Renaissance men David Crane and Eric Pascarello show you how to weave together the many pieces that make up an Ajax application: JavaScript, server-side components, HTML, CSS, and XML. More importantly, they teach you the tools and techniques you'll need to develop industrial-strength applications using JavaScript, a language that doesn't always get as much respect as it deserves.

This is really two books in one: first, it's a look at the Ajax technologies and prescriptions for their effective use. There are detailed discussions of relevant design patterns and of strategies for designing usable and secure applications. There are substantial discussions of a number of Ajax frameworks, libraries, and development tools, as well as developer features of Web browsers that you've probably never learned about but can't live without.

The second half of the book is a cookbook, a compendium of detailed blueprints for concocting your own versions of a trifecta of Ajax showcases: dynamic double combo boxes, typeahead select boxes, and Web portals with selectable, draggable portlets. There are even recipes for assembling standalone Ajax applications that use existing third-party Web services as a back-end. I liked that the cookbook built on the earlier parts of the book by deliberately applying the design patterns and refactoring techniques therein described.

If you're serious about helping to revolutionize the Web, you need this book.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Boyarsky on November 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Ajax in Action" is not only an excellent book on Ajax, but the best JavaScript book I have ever read. The authors note early on that Ajax is a process, not a technology. This theme permeates the book. There is an emphasis on requirements, design, implementation, testing and maintenance. So the book shows how to do a real project, not just how to code.

Keeping with the real project theme, there is information throughout on refactoring and design patterns. The authors present low level coding idioms as well. All this creates a language for coding Ajax applications. The second half of the book walks you through the entire development process for five sample applications.

The book targets a wide audience range, from enterprise developers to self-taught scripters. Basic concepts are explained concisely for newcomers and experienced developers may skim certain sections. However these sections are a very small part of the 600+ page book.

An appendix covers an introduction to JavaScript. While you would want to supplement it with materials from the web, it clearly covers the advanced topics that are hard to find elsewhere. There are also introductions and tips on CSS and DOM. In short, I learned a ton about non-Ajax development and page manipulations too.

And the book even has a screenshot of JavaRanch! I was expecting a good book when I saw Bear and Ernest's comments on the back. But it still managed to exceed my expections!
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful By D. Klebanov on August 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you are an experienced programmer and already familiar with design patterns, refactoring, and application architecture, then you will probably find this book to be very frustrating.

The author seems to be on a crusade to rid the world of bad coding practices, and though I fully salute his efforts, I think this book is horribly mis-titled. A more appropriate title would have been "Principles of Web architecture and design... and a few words about Ajax".

All I wanted was to learn the mechanics of ajax, and after reading the first 100 pages and getting nothing (new) out of it, I felt like my time had been robbed.
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