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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews (2 star)show all reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I guess I'm spoiled after reading the Visual QuickStart guides by Larry Ullman on PHP and MySQL. In those you actually learn how to use the software by building or programming projects. That's the way you learn any skill -- by doing. Along the way, you also learn many valuable insights into why you're doing what you're doing. (It's also a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and frustration -- all an important part of learning!)

JavaScript and Ajax doesn't live up to that expectation. It's just another reference book, like countless other reference books on these subjects. If you like the style with lots of screenshots and don't already have a reference book on the subject, it might be worth buying. As one reviewer said, however, screenshots of code that reproduce what's already in the text just take up space that could be used for additional information. (They're very useful when you're actually building projects as a part of your learning.) Also, it's not as well organized and indexed as other reference books, such as those by Wrox.

Just keep in mind that you won't learn to do JavaScript and Ajax in this book. You only learn skills by doing. Instead, you will read about them. That's a very different thing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 27, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is my first QSG book. I assume the layout is "feature" of the series, if so this will be my last.

Bottom line first: the title is a lie, this is a book about javascript with a chapter on AJAX; this book has good content, but the presentation will drive you insane while you read it.

Layout:
The book has a good concept but doesn't execute it well. Each page is divided into two columns, the example code is in one column, the text describing that code is in the other. This really is a great concept. It's used in analytic copies of a number of Shakespeare's plays and works well there. It works because they are conscientious about pagination, include line references, and use facing pages not columns.
Columns are a problem because each line has about three words before wrapping. The dot syntax of javascript is particularly hard to read with such short lines.
The pagination / line reference is really the biggest problem in the QSG's execution. They let the text and code flow through the columns across pages without much attention. This means you are constantly flipping forwards and backwards to see the code as you read. Without line references the flipping is not just annoying it's really more of a search.
They make two attempts to address the pagination problem: first, the code being talked about is highlighted in red; second, they reprint the code block being talked about in the text column. Neither of these is helpful. Half of the code ends up being highlighted red - at most you can scan the red blocks to figure out what that code is an example of, and what is just there to support the example. If they are going to reprint the code anyway why not just go over to a normal layout? My suggestion: use facing pages for the next edition!

AJAX:
This is not a book on AJAX. This is an introduction to javascript that includes a buzz word in its title to jump off the shelf at people. It's not even an introduction to javascript from an AJAX prospective. In fact AJAX isn't covered well in the book. For example there is very little discussion of how to navigate returned XML using javascript. AJAX is mentioned in the intro and then 'taught' in chapters 15 and 16. (Chapter 16 is just a discussion of available libraries!) You can't give AJAX top billing and then devote 10% of the actual book to it.

So why 2 stars?

I was looking for a book that assumed very little or no knowledge of javascript. I was hoping for something that would address canonical javascripting, best practices, and a bit theory behind the topics being covered. I'm self taught and wanted to see how things should be done instead of how they can be done. This book would be a darn good intro for a beginner. The theory and best practices parts were not explicitly addressed as often as I would have liked; however, they were demonstrated and covered at times.

4 star content, less 1 for layout, less 1 for title.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I've gone through Dori Smith's `JavaScript: Essential Training' video training course and was so impressed with Ms. Smiths teaching style (...in that format...) that I decided to purchase this book to teach myself Ajax. Unfortunately, this book and it's companion web site have been disappointing.

The materials provided on the companion site only go up to the 6th Edition of this book, and there have been noticeable changes made to the scripts found in this, the 7th Edition.

Long story short, the online materials DON'T match what's found in the book.

There are solid lessons to be learned here, but until someone can get the 7th Edition of `JavaScript & Ajax' and its companion web site in synch, there's not much one can do with the more complex lessons found in the Ajax section.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book gives some nice examples of usable code for a few common uses but doesnt give a very good explanation of what is being done and why. if you have great programming experience and a excellent knowledge of the DOM this book would be good way to get some javascript going, but for the average person looking to learn how javascript works and apply it in other ways than those shown in the book you are better off elsewhere.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ok, let me put it this way. If you don't understand what "concatenated" means or "string" (in the computing sense) or are iffy on whether or not you know what a "boolean" is, this book is not for you. I simply could not follow this book, as it briskly takes you through one example after another without really taking the time to stop and explain concepts. I can see how this format can be helpful for people who have at least some programming experience and don't need a whole paragraph devoted to the word "concatenate," but for dodos like me, this book is too hard. There are books out there that really take the whole process apart and explain underlying concepts in depth, and I'd recommend one of those over this for most people.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
The layout of this book is very annoying. The first column has screenshots and the second column has the actual text. This makes code very difficult to understand because code that should fit on one line turns into three lines. This book does not do a good job at explaining Javascript either. It just gives examples and shows you what they do. The Ajax section is a joke, it only has about 50 pages on it and most of that tells you to use other peoples programs instead of how to write your own. I am still waiting to find a good AJAX book. Hopefully O'Reilly will come out with a Safari Series book soon, I am always satisfied with their books.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I did not care for this book. There wasn't enough general explanation and examples of the script syntax and application. The book offered very situational code that was hard to reference or modify for your own projects. I would have preferred an explanation of all the different ways a script could be applied rather than just one specific and complicated task like creating a bingo card. I was disappointed because the quickstart xhtml/css book was so well written.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book and returned it two days later. As another reviewer has noted, the page layout is annoying and hinders readability. My main complaint is that the book shows how to do some stuff with javascript but lacks any explanation of why it was done that way. There isn't enough information in the book to be able to expand the book's examples into something you would want to use in your website.

When I took this book back, I bought the new Learning Javascript. I have only read the first chapter so far, but I have learned more useful information from it than I did from the Visual Quickstart Javascript book.
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