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Head First JavaScript 1st Edition

84 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596527747
ISBN-10: 0596527748
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Book Description

A Learner's Companion to JavaScript

About the Author

Michael Morrison is a writer, developer, toy inventor, and author of a variety of books covering topics such as Java, Web scripting, game development, and mobile devices. Some of Michael's notable writing projects include JavaScript Bible, 6th Edition (Wiley, 2006),Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours, 7th Edition (Sams Publishing, 2005), Beginning Mobile Phone Game Programming (Sams Publishing, 2004) and Java Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1997). Michael is the intructor of several Web-based courses, including DigitalThink's Introduction to Java 2 series, JavaBeans for Programmers series, and Win32 Programming series (

In addition to his primary profession as a writer and technical consultant, Michael is the founder of Stalefish Labs (, an entertainment company specializing in games, toys, and interactive media. When not glued to his computer, skateboarding, playing hockey, or watching movies with his wife, Masheed, Michael enjoys hanging out by his koi pond.


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Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 652 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (January 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596527748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596527747
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 128 people found the following review helpful By J. Mitchell on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Let me begin by saying that Head First Javascript is a good book, at least compared to any other JS books I've seen. It isn't, however, a particularly good "Head First" book.

What I mean by this is that the other Head First books I've used (XHTML & CSS, SQL, and C#) have been highly interactive, easy to use, and really got the concepts into my head. I was amazed that, after just a few days with these books, I could actually build professional-looking web pages that were rigorously standards compliant; or create complex applications in C# quickly and easily; or navigate the intricacies of building and using SQL databases. The Head First method certainly seemed to work.

So when I heard the HF people were producing a JS book, I was overjoyed. Sadly, it's been a bit of a letdown. The book smacks strongly of rushed production, lacking many of the features that makes the HF series special. For example, in the C# book, the authors take the reader through application construction in a step-by-step manner, carefully explaining everything as they go. The effect is of a very knowledgeable teacher standing over your shoulder and guiding you while you code. The reader is actively involved in every exercise, building their code from scratch. There are copies of every piece of code available for download at Head First's website, but these are merely tools for checking the reader's work.

In the Javascript book, however, much of the interactivity is missing. The book reads like a walkthrough of the code samples, with most of the user participation taking the form of pencil and paper exercises. The reader could actually complete the book without switching on her PC.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By tl32 on January 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
The first headfirst book I read was the HTML one and I have been hooked ever since. I took a class in javascript last semester and was hoping this book would come out before finals but alas that didn't happen. Anyways, I got this book when it first came out and I have been going through it since. Here are my observations

Pros: 1)The pacing is well-balanced. For those with no experience in programming they slowly but surely introduce you to if statements, variables, loops, functions, and arrays. Ch 7 and 8 hit the sweet spot in terms of usefulness and ease of learning. The book gets more challenging at the end but by that time I was ready for the topics they introduced.
2) Chapter 7 is definitely my favorite chapter of the book. It introduced me to a much more efficient way of data editing/validation. I had always used indexof but this chapter introduced me to regular expressions and they ROCKED my world! A very practical and useful chapter.
3) The code examples- The examples they use in the book are very relevant to what you might actually use on your own website. Each chapter introduced the code layer by layer so as to not overwhelm me with its complexity
4) Attention to detail- As I read the book, I often had unanswered questions and then a couple of pages later the author would answer it. If there was function or object I wasn't familiar with, it would be explained with the pencil writing.
5) The FUN Factor! The code examples they use like the choose your own adventure in ch.8 are very creative and interesting. Some might consider the humor sophomoric but a young college student like myself appreciated it.

Cons: 1) This is not a reference book. That's a double edged sword depending on what you are looking for though.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 15, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked the Headfirst HTML/XHTML/CSS book, but I found this one poorly organized and discouraging. The exercises frequently required knowledge of concepts that had not yet been introduced. And I found the extended examples used in the book (such as an unrealistic and complicated movie theatre "seat finding" dealeo) unnecessarily confusing.

After starting it several times and struggling through 300 or so pages I broke down and bought The Book of Javascript (2nd ed) by David Thau. I'm much happier: good clear explanations from the get go, and a focus on javascript as actually used in the world.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey J. Federman on July 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Short version: Very disappointed by Head First JavaScript ("HFJS"). Loved Head First HTML/XHTML/CSS ("HFHTML"), felt like I retained everything from it immediately, but couldn't figure out why the info in HFJS wasn't sinking in. Turned to web tutorials (better), and finally changed to Simply JavaScript(Sitepoint), a much more clearly written and explained book.

Long version: Less than a month ago, I knew very little about web design, much less any sort of programming. I'd tried to teach myself HTML from a rather dry text perhaps ten years ago, but nothing stuck. But I had a desire to give it another go, and set about finding another HTML book. I settled on HFHTML -- while it took many more pages to explain concepts which other books treated succinctly, the writing was much better in the Head First volume and I guessed I'd retain more from it.

It turned out to be a fantastic purchase, I devoured the book and within a week or so became proficient enough at HTML and CSS to code some complex site layouts. Since my latest site required dynamic behavior, JavaScript seemed like the logical next step. Given my positive experience (almost miraculous) with the HFHTML book, my first choice for a JavaScript book was HFJS. The many positive reviews on Amazon reinforced my decision.

When it arrived, I eagerly began from the beginning, skipping nothing (just as I'd done w/HFHTML). Did the quizzes, the crosswords, but from the beginning, things were a little off. In HFHTML, the authors show you where and how to introduce new code in your example pages, but in HFJS, it wasn't even clear whether you were supposed to be coding along, or merely just reading the book's examples.
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