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Customer Review

on January 27, 2007
As a javascript dabbler, I was looking for a book aimed at someone already familiar with javascript and found this one. Having read a few apress books, I felt pretty confident that the quality of this one would be at least reasonable and I definitely wasn't let down.

The executive overview is that this is an excellent book for those who are already working in javascript and are looking to improve their game. It covers a world of techniques very well. Highly recommended.

Now, the longer review...

This is an excellent book that deftly avoids the pitfalls so many books that claim to be aimed at people familiar with the topic. So many of these types of books try to be accessible they end up giving a lot of basic information mixed in with the advanced information - ultimately becoming a text unsatisfying for people of any level. This book devotes the beginning 15% of pages going over the basics, but it covers a ton of ground by acting more as a refresher course - assuming at least basic familiarity with most of the topics. I think it really did a great job of this, starting in Chapter 1 with a broad overview of OO javascript, cross browser issues, being serious and rigorous with your development process and their particular views on how to deploy javascript unobtrusively.

The subsequent 3 chapters are the refresher course. These chapters work through a ton of topics, at times it refers you to sites on the net for further information. He starts the overview with pretty much every topic in OO development, from scope and closures to a remarkably sweet and concise description of context. He brings together all these topics and how together they form the building blocks for javascripts particular flavor of OO. Then he tackles the various ways to deal with inheritance - here he covers ways to do it yourself as well as a couple libraries that you can use. He also talks about packaging and ways to make your code play well with others. He wraps up the overview with a chapter about debugging and testing - a topic I think a bit under-discuessed in javascript and I was happy to get his views and suggestions on how to deal with these.

With those conveniently out of the way he dives right into several chapters where he talks about the DOM, events and css scripting and how they relate to his goal of creating unobtrusive scripts where no javascript intrudes on nice clean html. He covers these topics by presenting a small problem and working through the code to solve that problem. It's very easy to follow and works well. He introduces several libraries to help with the process, but is careful always to explain the fundamentals of how things are actually working under the hood. Too many books that start working with libraries gloss over what's actually happening and wind up being little more than extra documentation for the libraries, fortunately this book doesn't suffer from this problem.

He then goes into two more chapters bringing it all together with larger in depth projects, enhancing forms with validation and other features as well as a javascript image gallery.

The last major part covers Ajax - one chapter goes into nice detail and builds several helpful library functions. He also covers handling the return of these requests and the pros/cons of xml vs html vs json. And then it goes into two bigger projects enhanced blogs, autocomplete and wiki.

Finally, he talks a little about where javascripts going and provides some references for DOM, events and browsers in the appendix.

There's not much negative to say about this. It gives a great overview for those who don't know the language inside and out, it covers a huge number of topics in a very readable and instructive way and gives a very useful reference to DOM and event scripting at the end. It does suffer slightly from putting some code in that is unexplained until a future point in the book. But, it doesn't happen often.
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