React Programming

Author: Loren Klingman and Ashley Parker
Publisher: Big Nerd Ranch Guides
Date: April 2023
Audience: Front end devs
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Ian Elliot
React is difficult to master, so a book can really help.

First the bad news - Big Nerd Ranch, the publishers of this book, has stated it is closing down both as a training organization and a publisher and isn't not planning on releasing any more books or new editions. It plans to allow current editions to slowly go out of print as they age. This is sad but understandable as the market for technical books is very depressed. For the moment this doesn't affect this particular book as it is on a current version of React and doesn't go too deep.

This is quite a large book and this in itself says something about React and possibly all of the frameworks we use. A good framework should be so obvious that its principles can be explained in a few pages. This book isn't focused on principles more on showing you how things are done. It uses lots of code to demonstrate how to use React. 



One unusual feature - well I have never encountered it before - is the use of strike-through to indicate which lines should be deleted in generated code. The idea is that you are starting from boilerplate code and need to know how to edit it to do what you want. In many cases, however, especially at the start nearly all of the code is deleted and only one or two lines added. I can't say I  found this approach particularly enlightening. The problem is that I couldn't see the good code for the bad. It just got in the way of seeing what the program was doing. I much prefer to have the correct code listed and work out for myself what to delete in the boilerplate code - it is usually obvious and I can deduce the changes or just replace all of the code by the listed code. You might not agree.

The book starts off with some very basic stuff about installing and using VS Code and Chrome before getting started proper. Chapter One is where the real learning about React starts and its a hands on to create a simple web app - ottergram. This uses the development server to generate the code and this is where we first encounter the idea of using strike-through to modify generated code:


 I don't think that you would get much from reading this chapter or indeed any part of the book without actually trying the activities out. This is very much a "learn by doing" book. 

From here the book moves though the topics needed to use React - Components and JSX, User Events, State, using the Linter, prop types, styles, using the server, routing, conditional rendering, useReducer, creating a shopping cart, forms in general, sumitting orders, component composition, context, fulfilling orders, optimizatio, testing and so on.

Overall this is a good book but only if you are happy with a hands on method of learning that is probably not as fast as a concept learning approach. 

For recommendations of JavaScript books see JavaScript Beginners Book Choice and Advanced JavaScript Book Choices in our Programmer's Bookshelf section.


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Software Mistakes and Tradeoffs (Manning)

Author: Tomasz Lelek and Jon Skeet
Publisher: Manning
Date: June 2022
Pages: 426
ISBN: 978-1617299209
Print: 1617299200
Audience: C# developers
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
We all make mistakes - do you want to read about them?

Machines Like Me

Author: Ian McEwan
Publisher: Vintage, 2019
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-1529111255
Print: 1529111250
Kindle: B07HR6SGQ9
Audience: General
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Mike James
A novel about a synthetic human has become so much more relevant recently and guess what - it features Alan Turing.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 July 2024 )