JavaScript Beginners Book Choice
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 25 May 2023
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JavaScript Beginners Book Choice
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The team of I Programmer book reviewers read a lot of programming titles, and our programmer's bookshelf section provides a guide to those that we thought were among the best, with recommendations of the books you might find helpful at different stages in your personal development. This time it's the turn of JavaScript for newcomers to the language.

JavaScript is a language that suffers from its very name. It is often misunderstood because of the inclusion of "script" in its name. However, it is one of the most important languages around, especially for web development.  If you need more persuasion, see Why JavaScript Is A Jem

Given the importance of JavaScript, it's no surprise that there are a lot of titles about it, and many of the books are good or excellent. However, there are a lot more books aimed at developers who already know some JavaScript than there are for people who want to learn the language. This is our selection of JavaScript books for Beginners - either complete beginners, or beginners to JavaScript. Most of the titles included here have been around for a few years, but they're still our choices if you want to learn the language.

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If you want to read more of the original review click in the link in each title. Clicking on the book jacket in the side panel will take you to Amazon. If you just want to find out more about the book click in the top portion of the thumbnail to open the book's product details page. If you do decide to make a book purchase accessing Amazon from a link on I Programmer means that we are credited with a few cents - so thanks to all of you who support us in this way.

JavaScript 24-Hour Trainer 

Author: Jeremy McPeak
Publisher: Wrox, 2010
Pages: 456
ISBN: 978-0470647837

This title is one of the 24-hour series from Wrox with book and DVD packages. It offers a fairly standard introduction to JavaScript but with the added feature of having a DVD with video lessons bound into the back.

Ian Elliot gave it a 4-star rating, saying that overall the book takes a good modern approach to JavaScript which emphasizes its good points and warns about its bad points. It is reasonably advanced in that it explains how objects work but it doesn't go the whole way and take an object-oriented approach to coding JavaScript. He says this is probably reasonable given the level it is working at and the sort of tasks it considers. For the same reasons it doesn't go into the more advanced aspects of JavaScript such as using closures or functional programming - this is also probably the right thing to do. 


 The lessons are all quite short, which is an advantage but it can mean that a lot of ground is covered and you need to keep up. The book probably isn't suitable for the complete beginner unless they are prepared to work fairly hard. The videos help in that they walk you through the examples and provide comments which aren't in the book. In conclusion, if you are looking for an introduction to JavaScript that focuses mainly on how you use it within a browser this is a good choice.

Murach's JavaScript, 2nd Ed

Authors: Joel Murach and Michael Urban
Publisher: Murach & Associates (2010)
Pages: 630
ISBN: 978-1890774851

Murach's books on technical topics are a well known series and they follow a fairly standard pattern which you either love or hate. However, as Ian Elliot observes, giving this book a 4 star rating, there isn't much to hate about them because they don't go in for anything revolutionary by way of presentation. In this case JavaScript is covered in a workmanlike fashion from the simple stuff to the advanced.

Ian's conclusion is that overall, as long as you are not a complete beginner, this is a good book if you like JavaScript presented in a "how to" format. There are lots of examples all the way through and these are reasonably realistic. The book also mentions ECMAScript 5 and explains that some of the functions might not be available in older browsers. It doesn't really cover ECMAScript 2015 but this isn't a huge problem for a book that is about using JavaScript in the browser. The biggest omission is that it doesn't say anything much about Ajax which is fairly core to creating single-page applications.  


 As an introduction to practical JavaScript in the browser, this book has the advantages of begin clear and task oriented. All of the chapters are called "How To" and many of the sub-heading are "How to use". If this is what you are looking for, Ian's advice is to buy a copy.

Beautiful JavaScript

Editor:  Anton Kovalyov
Publisher: O'Reilly
ISBN: 978-1449370756

This is a book that aims to get you thinking about JavaScript as more than a scripting language or simply a failed version of Java or C++. With the subtitle "Leading Programmers Explain How They Think", it is a collection of essays by different authors and each one treats their subject in a very different way.

Awarding it 4.5 stars, Ian Elliot said that beginners will find some of the essays difficult, but that if you are, or on your way to becoming, a sophisticated JavaScript programmer you will probably find something to amuse or interest you. 

Beginning JavaScript

Author: Paul Wilton & Jeremy McPeak
Publisher: Wrox, 2015 5th Edition
Pages: 792
ISBN: 978-0470525937

While this is a solid and comprehensive book, suitable for the well motivated beginner, it suffers from dry presentation of material, and  frameworks are only introduced at the end. It is aimed at the non-programming beginner who knows something about web design and construction and is a very traditional and solid approach to learning JavaScript. We reviewed the 4th edition, but there has been a more recent 5th edition. 


While awarding it a 4-star rating, Ian Elliot says the book suffers from the common problem of trying to tell the beginner too much in an effort to be complete, advising beginners that it might make sense to skip the detail. Later chapters deal with more advanced techniques and focus on using JavaScript in the browser - forms handling, strings, date and time and timers and cookies.Most of the examples used are small enough to be understandable and reasonable enough for the non-programmer to see why doing something similar might be useful.


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 May 2023 )