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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides a deep dive into JavaScript development
JavaScript: The Definitive Guide is not just a complete reference of the language, like O'Reilly's other 'thick books,' but also provides a deep dive into JavaScript development. However, if you're just starting out and will be using one of the various libraries (like jQuery), this book may not (yet) be for you.

First, the sixth edition is the first I've read,...
Published on May 23, 2011 by James Skemp

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366 of 401 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be better
Readers should note that most of the reviews of this book refer to older editions which are -- due to the rapid evolution of javascript -- completely different books. I've spent a considerable amount of time the last few months reading the 6th edition of this book and have a number of complaints. But first, the kudos: this book is more comprehensive than any other...
Published on May 6, 2011 by Patrick Goetz


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366 of 401 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could be better, May 6, 2011
This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
Readers should note that most of the reviews of this book refer to older editions which are -- due to the rapid evolution of javascript -- completely different books. I've spent a considerable amount of time the last few months reading the 6th edition of this book and have a number of complaints. But first, the kudos: this book is more comprehensive than any other javascript reference.

Complaints:
- the text is frequently non-linear in the sense that author will talk about undefined feature X, stating that feature X will be explained a couple of chapters later. Sometimes this is a good way to gradually introduce concepts, but it's used too much here. Some critics of this book have suggested you need to know javascript before reading this book, this might be why.

- Almost every concept is followed with the caveat "but this feature doesn't work in Internet Explorer prior to version Z. For that you have to use this entirely different function f". This makes the text unnecessarily confusing. How about talking about *standard* ECMAscript and relegating the caveats to end of chapter notes, perhaps adding a superscript to alert the reader about version incompatibilities?

- The examples are poor -- most show how to re-implement javascript 5 functions in javascript 3, or how to get a standard function to work in Internet Explorer 8. Who cares? This is why we have jQuery and Dojo -- in order not to worry about stuff like this. A few examples like this would provide welcome insight into dealing with compatibility issues, but in this case my eyes started to glaze over after a few hundred pages.

Case study: Chapter 17, "Handling Events". After reading much of this chapter I realized I didn't know anything about how to use events in actual, practical code. I went back to re-read the chapter, which starts on p. 445. The first example "snippet" doesn't occur until p. 457 and the first real example is on p. 466, demonstrating a "whenReady" function which shows you how "you can improve the startup time of your web applications if you trigger your scripts on events other than 'load'." Somewhat interesting, but is this really the best first example on event processing? The next example illustrates dragging an object, and is already quite complex and hard to follow.

The beginning of Ch. 17 tells us "An event object is an object that is associated with a particular event and contains details
about that event. Event objects are passed as an argument to the event handler function (except in IE8 and before where they are sometimes only available through the global variable event). All event objects have a type property that specifies the event type and
a target property that specifies the event target. (In IE8 and before, use srcElement instead of target.) Each event type defines a set of properties for its associated event." OK, how about an EXAMPLE illustrating how this works in real code? It's nearly impossible to get much out of this comment (and certainly impossible to retain anything) without an example. Only someone who already knows this stuff will follow that effectively, and if you already know the material, why read this chapter?

Additionally, some standard methods appear not to be documented in the client-side reference. Unfortunately I can't recall which ones at the moment; just remember looking for them and not finding them.

The "camel" book "Programming Perl" by Wall, Christiansen, and Orwant continues to be the gold standard for programming books by almost any measure, despite the fact that the current edition (3rd) is now terribly out of date. This book is readable, starts out with a good overview and then gradually dips the reader into the complexities of the language, included good examples, and frankly is an extremely enjoyable read. By comparison, this book meets none of these metrics. As a side note, O'Reilly (also the publisher of Programming Perl) used to be the dominant technical book publisher by huge margins, but in the past few years has begun to fall behind newer, more nimble competitors like Packt and Manning, who offer steep discounts on ebook editions and who appear to be taking greater care to maintain content quality. The affect is that at one time I would have simply assumed that the O'Reilly title was the highest quality text on any particular issue and now I'm finding this is not the case more often than not.

I must also add that I'm a fairly experienced programmer with some prior javascript experience; hence presumably a member of the target audience for this book. Whatever it's shortcomings and merits, and as other reviewers have pointed out, this book is COMPLETELY inappropriate for novice programmers and beginners. Stay far away, newbies, lest you burn in the pit of doom.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provides a deep dive into JavaScript development, May 23, 2011
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This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
JavaScript: The Definitive Guide is not just a complete reference of the language, like O'Reilly's other 'thick books,' but also provides a deep dive into JavaScript development. However, if you're just starting out and will be using one of the various libraries (like jQuery), this book may not (yet) be for you.

First, the sixth edition is the first I've read, so I can't speak to any changes. Instead, my review is focused on the book as a first-timer reader to the 'series.'

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide is broken up into four parts; Core JavaScript, Client-Side JavaScript, the Core JavaScript Reference, and the Client-Side Reference. If you've ever picked up one of O'Reilly's other reference books, like Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference, you know about what to expect from those last two parts - a deep reference to the language.

The first two parts, however, are a 'deep dive' into the actual language itself. Unlike a mere reference book, JavaScript: The Definitive Guide actually teaches you how to develop in JavaScript, starting at the core fundamentals, and working your way up to more advanced topics.

Part of the 'deep dive' aspect also includes following best practices, making numerous references to Douglas Crockford's JavaScript: The Good Parts throughout the first part of the book, which is about 30% of the book. Alone, the first part of the book provides an excellent, near-complete, tutorial on the language.

Historical information is also included, which I found to be very interesting when it came up, as well as implementation-specific functionality, that has limited use at this time (and as such, I personally found it distracting, and began skimming over later instances, but it's still nice that it's provided).

The second part focuses on the Web aspects, which is quite honestly where most people will be making use of JavaScript. This part covers about what you'd expect, as well as jQuery, client-side storage, and HTML5 functionality.

The jQuery information is around 60 pages of content, covers version 1.4, and also includes a bit about jQueryUI (a very little bit). It's quite refreshing to see jQuery included in the book, but as noted initially, if you're looking at focusing just on using a library, it may be better to get a resource focused on just that.

The second part is approximately 40% of the book.

The third and fourth parts are similar to O'Reilly's other reference books, and are therefore fairly detailed, with examples included. Depending upon your preference, you may find the reference valuable, or prefer searching online. The examples included give the book a slight advantage over the average Web site. Honestly, I generally prefer using online resources, so I don't see myself consulting these later parts very often, if at all.

Finally we come to the actual book itself. I received an electronic copy of the book, through the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program, so I can't speak to the quality of a physical copy. However, in the past I have generally found O'Reilly books to be well made, with bindings that last.

And now comes the rating.

After the first part of this book I was impressed by JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, and could easily have stopped there and been happy. The jQuery inclusion was a nice touch, which may be sufficient to push people who weren't thinking about using a library in their development to doing so, and may actually provide enough information for someone who wants to start learning JavaScript via jQuery. It is, in short, a true guide to JavaScript, and not just a reference book.

For these reasons, I must give JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, 5 of 5 stars.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those doubting a book is better than what can be found online, April 25, 2012
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This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
I simply wanted to say how much David's book has meant to my learning and understanding of Javascript, and programming in general. I had initially tried learning through many free sources online, and while most were very good in tackling specific issues or illustrating solutions to esoteric problems, none gave me the confidence that I was getting a solid foundation in the language, or programming in general.

In search of something better, I looked to stackoverflow which constantly recommended David's book. To be honest, I pirated it first. But after the first 3 chapters I went straight to Amazon and bought it, as well as Javascript Patters from Stoyan and Douglas's Crockford book Javascript: the good parts (another big hit on the stackoverflow forums). I was dumbfounded at how easy and clear his book made the language. For the first time, ideas were presented in a logical order, with concepts obviously introduced to build on previous ones. Concepts I've been told are essential (hoisting, closures, etc) but were intimidating because I'd never seen them in a cohesive narrative, shocked me in how intuitive they actually were when written well and paired with succinct examples.

I know this all seems overzealous enough to border on the insincere, but for someone who always had a passion for technology and wanted to create his own, but was beginning to be deterred from it all because I thought it was simply above my grasp, I want to say thank you to David and O'Reilly.

They very may well have single-handedly created a new developer, and have dramatically changed my life in the process.

Thanks again.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for Javascript development, May 15, 2011
This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
This book is called 'the definitive guide' for a reason: it is by far the most complete book on Javascript that you can buy. Every subject, from syntax to popular libraries is covered. The 6th edition is completely updated to reflect the latest standard, ECMAscript 5. The newest features such as localstorage and geolocation are explained in this new edition. The book follows a clear outline. It starts by explaining the language and it's syntax, followed by it's features. Next is the usage of the language, both as a client-side language and as a server-side language. The book also covers the most popular Javascript library: jQuery.

I found the book, although it is written as a reference, easy and entertaining to read. The book is a great resource to use while developing Javascript, because every little detail is covered. A good indication of its quality is that the book survived five editions and is still going strong! What I did miss is some guidance around real world Javascript development and tooling. The book does not explain anything around unit testing, development environments and other useful tooling. That would be a welcome addition for the 7th edition!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good book, just not for the beginner, January 16, 2014
By 
Magic Shopping Network (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
I guess I'm sort of between a beginner and an intermediate level JavaScript student, mostly learning online. I saw that this book was highly recommended, so I picked up a copy. It's actually a pretty good book for someone like me. I've studied the concepts for about a month now and this book is systematically going through the language pretty well. So why am I only giving this book 2 stars if it's a pretty decent book? Because it says all you would need is CSS and HTML knowledge to be able to proceed with this book. That's 100% false. If I was new to JavaScript I would find this book extremely frustrating. Not because the subject is mesmerizing in it's complexity (it isn't) but because the author assumes the reader knows stuff about JavaScript he/she hasn't explained yet. Being a tutorial on JavaScript places the author in the position to teach the subject matter not to assume we already know it.

And as someone else mentioned here, the author goes over too many exceptions in the middle of a tutorial...These need to be seriously reorganized. And The caveats need to be deemphasized and put somewhere else, perhaps at the end of the section in a box or something or somehow put away somewhere else. If I were teaching students in a book about WW2, focusing on Hitler, I wouldn't get into the kind of breakfast he liked right in the middle of some great battle, I would probably put that in a box or toward the end as some kind of exception, whatever, set it aside and focus on the bigger picture, express the details and exceptions later. I know it must be hard for someone who knows a ton about something to not get into the fine details because they love the subject but you need to focus on who you are writing to...people who may know nothing of the subject you are talking about. It's more important to get the bigger picture in focus and then flesh out the details later rather than the reverse.

In addition, this book often says "I'll get into that later on" which is annoying because it's like why bother even bringing it up if you are going to tackle it in detail later? Why not just focus on ONE subject at a time rather than being all catty, tangential and twisted? It didn't bother me much because I KNEW what he was talking about but I kept stopping and asking myself "If I didn't know that would this make me soooo ticked off?"

The author, in just the first three chapters goes over topics in JavaScript which only someone who has studied the language at least for a few weeks as well as programming in general would be able to grasp, sometimes once in a while just throws a ton of weird concepts at the reader all at once which haven't been explained. If you are a beginner DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. First do some studying online, watch a few videos on the subject and try a few online tutorials. Once that becomes frustrating and you want a systematic tread through the subject...THEN buy this book. It's not a good book for a beginner.

It's actually very annoying when authors do this and they *need to stop* it's discouraging to beginners. Pretend everyone in the room is 12 years old and explain everything using everyday language or language you establish from the ground up, don't build the house from the top down, build it from the bottom up. You can't just dive in and start talking to the reader as if they already know what you are talking about. This book is not a good book for the absolute beginner. The author should explain that in the beginning and that was not explicitly stated.

One last thing is that another person here pointed out that this book fails as a reference and fails as a user-friendly guide and I actually agree. But it is a decent enough in between book and it is comprehensive so I would have given it 5 stars just because there are a lot of crappy books on this subject out there.

When the author releases a new version stating that one requires some small knowledge of JavaScript before reading this book I will change this to a five star review.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for web developers, June 29, 2012
This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
I have about 50 or 60 computer reference books, and this is my absolute favorite.

By far the most expansive, well-written book on JavaScript.

I wouldn't recommend trying to read this book in a linear fashion - it is much more useful as a reference for whatever you need to learn at the moment.

The 6th edition is much more current than prior versions, and it has some great sections on HTML5 JS APIs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, July 1, 2012
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This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
As a C#/C++ developer I bought this book to learn basics of JavaScript. I don't plan to develop Web apps, but because JavaScript effectively became 'the language of the web' it's nearly inevitable to know at least basic syntax and semantic of this language.

In my opinion, this book is the same to JavaScript as Bjarne Stroustrup's The C++ Programming Language to C++. The book is divided into 4 parts. First part is dedicated to core JS features. Writing style, depth of explanations, examples, all strongly resemble Stroustrup's book. Flanagan goes into great depth, he explains all problematic parts of JS itself (honestly JS syntax and semantic is sometimes bizarre) and differences between JS implementations. Especially the attention he pays to JS semantic 'quirks' (for instance automatic conversions of numbers, arrays, objects, string) that are so different to C-like languages was very useful for me. Also I like that sample programs didn't bother with any HTML code (the results are just written in comments). It's a great idea not to mix HTML and JS in these early stages of study. Only thing I didn't like was Chapter 6. I think author should have merged this chapter with chapter 9 and he could have presented object-oriented aspects of JS (especially prototype inheritance) together with the presentation of objects.

Second part is all about JS integration with web browsers. Once again author gives in-depth coverage, with many details about differences between browser implementations. Many samples contain utility functions that helps you to overcome these disparities. Chapter 19 contains good intro into jQuery and last chapter covers some new HTML 5 features like client side DB or Web Sockets.

Last two parts (about 300 pages) are JS references covering all important JS functions and classes. To be honest, this part of book was unnecessary for me. If you have Internet, you don't need this printed version of JS reference. It just makes the book thicker and heavier.

To sum up. JS The Definitive Guide is useful book for experienced developers who know some other object oriented language and want to learn JS. It's not the best IT book I have ever read but still it gave me good intro into JS.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ask Felgall - Book Review, November 19, 2011
By 
Stephen Chapman (Sydney, NSW, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
This is a "must have" book for anyone writing JavaScript for use with web pages. No matter what your level of JavaScript knowledge (as long as you know some JavaScript) you will be able to benefit from this book. It comprehensively covers JavaScript as it is today. While not all of the new JavaScript statements are supported by all browsers in common use, the book clearly describes how to work around that lack of support so that your script doesn't crash while still benefiting from the advances in what the language allows.

The book covers both the modern approach to writing JavaScript as well as how JavaScript used to be written (so as to help you to understand what the old code actually does). Most of the time the book does make the distinction between them and advises you as to which is the appropriate way to do things.

Perhaps the antiquated info that has the most space dedicated to it is browser sniffing using the user enterable free format user_agent information in the navigator object - while there are unfortunately lots of web pages that have made the mistake of using this the approach has actually been obsolete since Netscape 2 introduced feature sensing. The book does admit that browser sniffing is 'problematic' but still devotes a couple of pages to how to do it where that space would have been better used to list a summary of a few of the reasons why you shouldn't use it.

The complete opposite approach is taken with regard to the now antiquated document.write statement with the book including the code for a streaming API for innerHTML to make it a trivial exercise to get rid of all such antiquated statements.

The very few flaws in this book make up a minute fraction of the book but they stood out for me mainly because the rest of the book is to such a high standard. This book isn't for beginners but for anyone who has even a slight knowledge of JavaScript, this is a book you need to get. If you can only afford one JavaScript book then get this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read, 1,000+ page Book?! Yes!, August 26, 2013
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This review is from: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages (Definitive Guides) (Paperback)
As the subtitle indicates, this work is definitive. Be prepared to find yourself sinking or swimming right from the start, as the material gets technical from page viii and never looks back. Be advised: Flanagan is not a flowery, anecdotal writer. But he appears to be thorough. Stick with it. The payoff is enormous, as obscure concepts (for a newbie like me) discussed in the first hundred pages or so are clarified satisfactorily later on. This is not only a book about JavaScript, but also a commentary on how programming (and its language component) as a concept has evolved in reaction and relation to the internet. Coming from a Visual Basic, standalone executable perspective, I found this approach very helpful in augmenting my knowledge base.

Programming fundamentals from a JavaScript perspective are carefully explained, although some patience may be required from the reader, especially if they have little or no exposure to the C-family language. Again, stick with it; Flanagan delivers on that subtitle. And despite the claim that JavaScript, by its nature, might forever defy a true reference, there's one in here, and that was one of the reasons I decided to buy this book. In fact, there are several references inside, covering both client-side and server-side JavaScript components. Very handy. There's even a chapter on jQuery, comprehensive enough to be its own book (see: jQuery, the Pocket Reference, also by Flanagan).

Occasionally I struggle with some of the material presented, but I'm guessing that's because of my lack of exposure to anything C++, rather than the author's approach/delivery. In fact, Flanagan seems to anticipate a little struggling with concepts, and frequently (enough) slows the pace down so that dinosaurs like me can stay caught up, focused, and moving forward.

This might be a 5-starred book, but since I haven't finished it in the 30 days since purchase, it gets stuck with 4 stars for now. Nonetheless, one might ask: is David Flanagan the NEW Danny Goodman?? BUY RECOMMENDATION
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive but tedious, February 16, 2014
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The good thing about this book is that it is comprehensive, it goes into nuances and does not gloss over them. Bad thing is that it delves into nuances and gotchas too early in each chapter, so much so that the pace at which one can read this book and get a basic understanding of JS becomes excruciatingly slow. A better way would have been to go through JS basics first, and then revisit each concept, whether it be objects, properties, type conversion etc in greater detail in subsequent chapters. It is a better reference, I feel, than a book to learn JavaScript from, regardless of whether you are a novice or a longtime coder.
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