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Pragmatic Ajax: A Web 2.0 Primer 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0976694083
ISBN-10: 0976694085
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Justin Gehtland is a partner and co-founder of Relevance, a training and consulting com-pany located in the Research Triangle, North Carolina. He has been an application de-veloper since 1990, and a web application developer since 1995. His technology back-ground includes all the usual suspects. He is currently focused on lightweight develop-ment using Ruby, .NET and Java.

Ben Galbraith is a frequent technical speaker, occasional consultant, and author of several technology books. He is a co-founder of, was recently Chief Technical Of-ficer for Amirsys, and is presently a consultant specializing in enterprise architecture and Swing/Ajax development. Ben presides over the Utah Java User's Group, is active in the Java Community Process, and tinkers on various open-source projects from time to time. He has delivered over one hundred technical presentations in 2005 at venues including JavaOne, Java Symposium, and the No Fluff Just Stuff Java Sympo-siums.

Dion Almaer is the other founder of, the leading source of the Ajax community. Dion has been writing rich web applications from the beginning, and is a columnist on Enterprise Java topics at,,, and of course his blog at He enjoys writing, and speaking at events such as JavaOne, JavaPolis, TheServerSide Symposium, and the No Fluff Just Stuff symposium tour. He also participates on the Java Community Process expert groups, and the open source community as a whole.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (April 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976694085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976694083
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Violette on May 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The only way to really learn Ajax (and the wider "Web 2.0") is write the code yourself, read sites like, and understand Javascript. The writers behind this book know this because they have not infused a lot of overly complicated examples (as in "Ajax in Action"), but have instead given a wide survey of how Web 2.0 technologies work.

The book starts out with a very readable overview of Ajax and follows that up with the best chapter in the book: a fascinating deconstruction of Google Maps. In subsequent chapters, they dive deeper into the XMLHTTPRequest and the mechanics of making asynchronous calls with Javascript. Since most people don't roll their own anymore, they cover client-side frameworks like prototype/scriptaculous and dojo. They cover server-side frameworks like DWR (Java), Rails (Ruby), and Sajax (PHP). They also cover alternate payload formats such as JSON.

One thing to note here: AJAX used to refer to "Asynchronous Javascript and XML", but now that the suits have caught on to the term, it has become synonymous with richer web applications. Therefore, I think for the broader audience, AJAX === Web 2.0. Even this book blurs the distinction. For example, they cover some of scriptaculous' effects, which have nothing to do with Ajax.

I did not find the chapter on debugging to be too great. For example, no mention of GreaseMonkey is made in the debugging section. I use this all the time to debug and inject stuff into my scripts.

None of the chapters in this book is what I'd call comprehensive. It is a primer. The authors of this book have written a very concise, well-written introduction to the world of web 2.0.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Otwell on May 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the second Pragmatic Programmers book I've read to have been published as a "beta book." That means that early versions of the text and code were reviewed by lots of readers, and their feedback incorporated into the final version. It shows: this is a very current book which addresses most of the pressing issues around Ajax design and development in language-agnostic ways. There's a chapter that covers some of the current code libraries (like Dojo and Prototype) without playing favorites. The writers write reasonably well. There are some *very* clunky sentences and paragraphs, especially in the last chapter, which feels pretty rushed. And strange continuity mistakes show up in several places, such as references to upcoming material that was actually covered several chapters back. The two consecutive chapters titled "Ajax UI part I" and "Ajax UI part II" feel poorly organized. It's usually a sign an author can't quite figure out how to group material when you get chapters with such vague titles.

It is very much a "primer" like the title says: it's an overview and introduction, not a complete guide to all the complexities of Ajax development (see the book "Ajax in Action" for that). It helpfully covers debugging techniques and degradable design. The Ajax support of server-side web frameworks are compared briefly. The good thing is that it's one of those tech books that you can get a lot out of by reading; you don't need to type in a lot of code to understand these concepts. Just don't expect this to be the only book on your Ajax shelf.

The only section that's really out of place is, oddly, the first chapter. In it, the authors build a lightweight version of Google Maps, the application they rightly point to as generating a lot of initial interest in Ajax.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jim Anderton on April 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is so much more than a technical reference for Ajaxian techniques. It will help you understand how the whole Ajax revolution came about, and where it's going. After providing a foundation of Ajax background, the authors quickly jump in to the mother of all Ajax applications: Google Maps. Not only do they describe what made Google Maps so important, they discuss in detail how the UI side can be implemented. And the most exciting thing? After reading it, you'll feel like you could go out and create that kind of UI. It's very empowering!

After the initial excitement of understanding the techniques used in Google Maps, the authors show you a very simple customer entry form and walk you through the process of implementing an Ajax lookup to populate city and state based on zipcode. Then, after teaching the reader how to write the Ajax code from scratch, they discussed Ajax frameworks and walked the reader through implementing the same functionality using the Dojo framework. I thought this progression was very effective. It really showed off the value of learning these frameworks rather than handcoding everything.

There was plenty of great discussions of UI possibilities, validation techniques, and other things Ajax can help us with. Not only did the Authors do a great job of teaching the reader what to do, they also invested significant time helping the reader avoid common pitfalls.

The book covers so much more: debugging, graceful degradation. JSON, server-side frameworks and Ajax with various server platforms. It finishes with a nice discussion of the future of Ajax. I plan to re-read this book and share it with my colleagues. The authors really did a great job putting this book together. Not only is this a valuable reference, it's also a great cover-to-cover read.
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