Top critical review
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Stale. (2 stars only for Kindle edition.)
on September 20, 2011
Let me say that I'm an old hand at JS, and an even older hand at writing books and programming. JS is one of those languages (like most of them) where I sat down and started programming out of necessity. And when I do that, I like to go back to square one when I have a chance and see if I've overlooked any basics. This is the book I chose to use for that, based largely on the reviews of the top JS books on Amazon.
And, the thing is, I really like this book. I can see that the original author, Wilton, put a lot of care into it. He wrote his code clearly, and described it in easy-to-follow chunks. He takes small steps and gives just enough repetition. It's not a lightning introduction: It walks you through it.
Now, what happens with coding books is that the book gets written, and if it sells well, the publisher wants it updated for the next version. So the author (or someone new) comes in and goes to see what's valid and what's not, adds a few notes, a few caveats, and maybe a couple of chapters at the end. The publisher wrings a few more sales out of this and it's probably sufficient. At least for a second edition, if things haven't changed too much.
This, however, is the fourth edition of a book that was originally written in 2000! For WEB technology! Wilton focuses smartly on the nuts-and-bolts of JS, so that stuff holds up, but if your mission is to get stuff done on a modern website with JS, this book is going to feel really stale.
The book starts off by having you write stuff to the status bar. What's that? You don't know what a status bar is? That's because they haven't been used in browsers much for years.
Browsers: There's a lot of emphasis on IE6 compatibility issues even though IE6 is down to about 2% of the market. Chrome (with about 20%+ market share) is included as an after-thought, and sometimes not at all. Forget about Safari or mobile devices.
There's a discussion on frames that's completely innocent of the debate over whether they should be used at all.
All of chapter 13 is devoted to ActiveX, reflecting a year 2000 sensibility, when you could just program for IE.
The Ajax chapter was added in the third edition by McPeak, who presumably also updated this edition, and it starts with a link to Google Suggest which is no longer valid (because Google Suggest was incorporated into regular Google the year before the fourth edition was released.)
I still give it three stars, which is high praise for an eleven year old tech book.
The Kindle version gets only two stars, however: Wrox didn't format any of the code, so it's all left-indented. That was hard for ME to read, and it'd be torture for a JS initiate.