JavaScript & jQuery: The Missing Manual

Author: David Sawyer McFarland
Publisher: Pogue Press, 2011
Pages:536
ISBN: 978-1449399023
Aimed at: JavaScript beginners
Rating: 4
Pros: Clear and logical
Cons: Doesn't do JavaScript justice
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

JavaScript and jQuery seem to be inseparable these days, so what could be more sensible than a book that explains both together for the beginner.

After all many a JavaScript book spends a lot of pages explaining how to do things only to end with - but of course if you really want to do this then use jQuery.

The book starts out with a gentle introduction to JavaScript using a simple example. Chapter 2 outlines the basics of the JavaScript language - functions, variables, data types, arrays and so on. The idea of objects is introduced here but not emphasised - the book mostly treats JavaScript as if it was a scripting language that has some built in objects rather than trying to explain what object oriented programming is all about. Chapter 3 concludes the very short look at JavaScript by explaining loops, conditionals and so on. This is the right way to do the job but it is a shame it finishes so soon - just 100 pages. This is just enough to get you started in JavaScript but not to turn you into a JavaScript expert.

 

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Part Two of the book introduces jQuery. Chapter 4 deals with the core of jQuery - the idea of a selector - and how to make use of the objects that are returned. The explanation of the way selectors work is about as clear as it can be. Selectors are a difficult topic and it is the part of jQuery that beginners find most difficult.

Chapter 5 deals with working with events via jQuery and Chapter 6 is all about animations and effects. This concludes our look at basic jQuery - again just 100 pages long. I would have like more - there is the whole subject of Ajax that has been skipped and there is a lot more to go into concerning selectors and more advanced ways of using jQuery. Some of these topics are covered in later parts of the book so don't think that you have just learned all there is to know about jQuery.

Part Three is all about examples and putting jQuery to work. However don't think that this is just a matter of using what you have been introduced to in parts 1 and 2 - there is a lot of new stuff in this part of the book. Chapter 7 is about images, Chapter 8 covers navigation and Chapter 9 is about web forms and validation in particular. Chapter 10 is about building more complex user interfaces.

Part Four is a two-chapter introduction to Ajax and an example of using it - Flickr and Google Maps. This more than makes up for not having covered Ajax in the introduction to jQuery in Part 2.

The final part is called Tips, Tricks and Troubleshooting. Chapter 13 considers the issue of how best to use jQuery and goes into some of the internals. Chapter 14 adds some material on pure JavaScript including working with strings, numbers, dates and so on. I think that at least some of this material would have been better treated before getting onto jQuery. It isn't advanced JavaScript and things like being able to work with strings is a fairly fundamental thing to do in conjunction with jQuery. The final chapter is on debugging which again arguably should be earlier in the book - although to be fair there are comments about finding errors throughout the book.

Overall this is a well organized and well explained look at JavaScript augmented by jQuery or should that be jQuery augmented by JavaScript. The book does spend a lot more time on jQuery at the expense of fundamental JavaScript. As a result while the book is suitable for the complete beginner after reading it you are not going to be a competent JavaScript programmer unless you take the time to read another book. This introduces just enough JavaScript for you to be able to use jQuery and augment it a little. It certainly isn't for jQuery experts either as it doesn't cover plugins, anything advanced and it ignores jQuery UI and mobile - but this is very reasonable.

As long as you only want to learn enough JavaScript to use jQuery or are happy with finding another book to fill out your JavaScript experience then this is highly recommended.


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Joomla!: Visual QuickStart Guide (2e)

Author: Marni Derr & Tanya Symes
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-0321772985
Aimed at: Inexperienced Joomla! users
Rating: 3
Pros: Lots of detailed instructions
Cons: The good material is swamped
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

This another introduction to Joomla!, 1.6 in this instance, but what [ ... ]



Head First HTML and CSS, 2nd Ed

Author: Elisabeth Robson and Eric Freeman
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pages: 768
ISBN: 978-0596159900
Audience: Beginners
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

Head First books are designed to get you started. How far does this one go with HTML and CSS?


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