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ppk on JavaScript
by Peter-Paul Koch

New Riders
1 edition
September 2006
528 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, October 2006
  (9 of 10)

"ppk on JavaScript" fills an interesting void with the focus of today's JavaScript books. Most books either focus on "JavaScript in 21 Days", "JavaScript -- Complete Reference" or "AJAX". This book covers techniques for creating clean and accessible JavaScript functionality.

The book's stated audience is someone who knows at least some JavaScript -- a beginning level or up. Basically, you should feel comfortable reading and understanding code. I think the book might be a little overwhelming for a beginner to understand. A beginner could read it twice; once right away and once after reading another JavaScript book.

The author views JavaScript as a technique to add usability. He shows how to create "unobtrusive" JavaScript. In other words, the JavaScript stays out of the HTML page and the page works without JavaScript, albeit with less functionality.

Eight case studies (real life examples) are used throughout the book. The author points out why he selected certain techniques. He also notes bugs and where he would have done things differently. I particularly liked the emphasis on separation of concerns.

Keyboard users are also discussed from an accessibility point of view in several chapters. In other chapters, only users without JavaScript enabled were discussed. I would have liked a little more consistency with how accessibility was treated.

Overall, the book was very good. The tips were useful and I enjoyed the emphasis on design. And AJAX is discussed from the point of view of how it was used before it was called AJAX.

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JavaScript: The Definitive Guide
by David Flanagan

fourth edition
December 2001
900 pages

Reviewed by David O'Meara, April 2002
  (8 of 10)

This book is for programmers. The coverage of the various core-programming practices is fairly light and is usually explained in comparison to Java. It won't teach you how to code with JavaScript if you don't have something to base it on. This lends itself to programmers, who don't necessarily want to drown in familiar concepts. The down side is that the book is less likely to be useful to nonprogrammers.

The previous version of the book focused mainly on the uses of JavaScript in browsers. However the new version treats JavaScript as a complete language, with extensive coverage including DOM and CSS.

The book still has one of the most concise listings of functionality and browser compatibility, which is its greatest asset. It is an invaluable resource when you need to build some stable and compatible code. This is even more important with the recent changes in Netscape6.

Providing sample code isn't the primary aim (although there is still a bunch), but combined with the other resources available on the internet it should be all that someone with existing Java skills requires to build what they need using JavaScript.

A simpler coverage might make life easier for you in the short term, but this book will help you do whatever you want, whenever you want. If other books feed you for a day, this book won't feed you for a lifetime, but it'll stand by you until the next version.

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How to Do Everything with JavaScript
by Scott Duffy

1 edition
February 2003
448 pages

Reviewed by Eric Pascarello, March 2003
  (9 of 10)

"How to Do Everything with JavaScript" is a great book for everyone, from the beginner to the expert who needs a good refresher. This is one of many books on JavaScript I have read and this definitely will not leave my desk. "How to Do Everything with JavaScript" can be used as a reference for difficult topics, or a quick guide to the fundamentals of JavaScript. The book topics are covered in great detail with well thought-out explanations and examples. Classes, arrays, functions, objects, DHTML, browser compatibility, debugging your script, frame communication, and countless other things are delivered in manageable chunks which make this book a great resource. Many of the basic questions asked in the HTML and JavaScript forum can be answered just by reading this book!

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JavaScript & DHTML Cookbook
by Danny Goodman

1 edition
April 2003
576 pages

Reviewed by Eric Pascarello, May 2003
  (8 of 10)

JavaScript & DHTML Cookbook is a unique recipe that will teach you the most discussed topics in JavaScript and DHTML. The book is set up like a forum. A question is asked, the answer is given, and a discussion follows. The method this book follows is great for those who learn from vast examples on a broad range of topics.

The book looks at regular expressions, arrays, cookies, strings, objects, and much more on the JavaScript side. The DHTML side explains how multiple level menus are made, contextual menus, navigation trees, event handlers, validation methods, style sheets, and much more. The book discusses browser compatibility and problems that it may cause. In the discussion, solutions are proposed to counteract those problems.

This book is great for the person that wants to jump into the DHTML realm of programming and does not want the weighed down basics of JavaScript coding. This book will not teach you how to program JavaScript from the fundamental level, but it will teach you how to make scripts that are powerful and compatible!

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Pro JavaScript Design Patterns
by Ross Harmes, Dustin Diaz

1 edition
December 2007
269 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, April 2008
  (9 of 10)

"Pro JavaScript Design Pattens" is a useful read regardless of whether you have a JavaScript or server side language background. An advanced topic that appeals to such varied audiences is tough to do, but the authors succeed admirably. In fact, I can't do such a job, so read the chapter that applies...

JavaScript developers:
The book covers how to write good clean object oriented code in JavaScript. It introduces concepts that are not present in JavaScript along with how to simulate them. The sections on when to use a given pattern are well written.

Server side language developers:
The book covers how to implement in JavaScript the design patterns we are accustomed to. Before getting to this, there are several chapters on JavaScript idioms which are very useful. There were also a couple patterns that a server side developer might not have encountered because the server side is not so memory constrained.

The book also covers tradeoffs of using the patterns. I appreciated where they mention the slight performance hit and how to check/profile if it is a problem for you. All patterns were described clearly and succinctly. There were some real examples as well. At times, it is a bit code heavy -- one example had 1.5 pages of implementation details that had nothing to do with the topic at end. Overall, I think the book was great. If you have a significant amount of JavaScript code, the concepts in this book are critical.

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Head First JavaScript
by Michael Morrison

O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1 edition
January 2008
650 pages

Reviewed by Katrina Owen, May 2008
  (9 of 10)

Head First JavaScript starts off by illustrating why JavaScript can be useful (adding pizzaz, interactivity, and excitement to a website), and then goes about leading the reader in experiments, exercises, and games which introduce various aspects of the language: variables, scope, objects, control statements, and events. The book also introduces debugging and very basic Ajax.

The irreverent Head First style cleverly disguises the fact that you will walk away from the book understanding 'stuff'. This is not a recipe book, and it is not a code mill. The examples are for one purpose only: trick your brain into understanding a concept. The exercises do the same thing - often adding emotional spice by letting you walk straight into a trap (a typical mistake made by most novices), and then helping you understand exactly why you made that particular mistake on the very next page.

Did someone say "Just in Time" learning?

If you are a JavaScript guru, the book will probably be an entertaining read, but not much more than that. If the extent of your javascript knowledge is copying and pasting scripts written sometime prior to y2k and then tearing your hair out when they don't work the way you need them to, then this is the perfect place to start gaining the proficiency you need to start writing your own scripts from scratch.

Head First JavaScript is a great foundation, and will have you reading and enjoying more advanced texts in no time.

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JavaScript for Programmers (Deitel Developer)
by Paul J. Deitel, Harvey M. Deitel

Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
March 2009
448 pages

Reviewed by Campbell Ritchie, April 2009
  (8 of 10)

Before buying, go to the Deitel website ( and see whether there are text samples (there weren't when I reviewed the book). Deitel books have their own characteristic style which some people (myself included) like and others detest. Much of it consists of showing examples of the technique, and explaining how it works, line by line. I personally find this an effective way to learn.

As well as JavaScript, the book covers introductory XHTML, style sheets (CSS), XML and rich internet applications with AJAX.

The examples are clear, simple, and easy to understand; I often learn by copying and changing them. The book is clearly printed in greyscale and sturdily bound. I have even dropped Deitel books in the street without losing pages! I only found 1 misprint. It is generously supplied with links to other resources, and appears to be up to date.

The "Programmer" books appear to be taken from the corresponding "How To Program" books, with some of the simpler stuff taken out; they assume a "programmer" knows what a browser is, and (see page 307) what an IEEE785 number is! This book appears to be the "client-side" half of a "How To" book. Many of the twee drawings of ants have gone, too, and unfortunately there are no exercises at the end of the chapters.

I recommend buyers look at the "How To" book, ISBN 0131752421, and see how it compares for value for money.

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Murach's JavaScript and DOM Scripting
by Ray Harris

1 edition
August 17, 2009
760 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, January 2010
  (9 of 10)

My Wii says the 767 page "Murach's JavaScript and DOM Scripting" book weighs three pounds. Yet it only costs $38.15 with free shipping in the US (at Note the book covers CSS as well although the title doesn't mention it.

The book starts with the really basic - what is HTTP - but suggests which parts to skip if you already know these. The book introduced good practices such as accessibility and the least common denominator. It also showed using tools properly such as Firebug.

What I particularly liked: the book source code was easy to download, the exercises got you to try the concepts, Section 508 got a mention, the OO approach.

All examples/applications are self contained. This means there is some repetition. I get it - we need to define the "$" function everyplace if we want to use it. It does get one used to reading JavaScript apps.

I also would have liked some more explanation about WHY one does certain things. The Murach two page layout worked well. In many cases, I chose which side of the page to read which let me read at my own pace.

Overall, I think the book is a great one for starting out with JavaScript/CSS/DOM. Unless you need to carry it around with you.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of JavaRanch.

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Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja
by John Resig, Bear Bibeault

Manning Publications
original edition
January 2013
300 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, January 2013
  (9 of 10)

"Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja" has four parts. Two are awesome, one was ok and one went over my head. Let's look at each section in turn.

Preparing for training
The first two chapters cover some important concepts such as how to test, log and watch out for performance problems. I'll be honest. At this point in the book, I was thinking the book was "fair." There was important information but it was a little dry. And there was page of code without any footnotes explaining it and only a brief description after. Luckily I kept reading. Because these two chapters were like a long introduction and nothing like the rest of the book.

Apprentice training
Here the book became fun. The writing style became more vivid and the information became more interesting. The authors point out gotchas and clearly walk you through examples. The code is set up that you HAVE to understand it and not just read along. We were introduced to closures by GENTLY bringing us up to speed and I particularly liked the regular expression coverage.

Ninja training
Advanced statements were covered clearly with pros and cons. I didn't see a warning about eval being slower than other statements but I did see a warning about security implications. I liked the cross browser chapter and advice on how to deal with differences in a supported manner. And the authors didn't just say "use jQuery" which was impressive restraint given we have the creator of jQuery and author of a jQuery book writing this one.

Master training
More than I think I ever want to know about events, the DOM and CSS in JavaScript. I'm treating these chapters as a reference. I wound up skimming because I had trouble focusing on that much detail. It was still good - and if you needed to use the information - it would probably be easier to focus on.

And some overall comments - the book assumes you know the basics of Javascript, HTML and CSS. If you don't, go pick up an intro to JavaScript book before reading this one. If you are doing any non-trivial JavaScript development you need this book. And if you are developing reusable JavaScript code (used on more than a handful of pages), you need this book badly.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

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JavaScript & AJAX - Learn JavaScript and Ajax the Quick and Easy Way
by Tom Negrino, Dori Smith

Peachpit Press
6 edition
September 2006
512 pages

Reviewed by Pauline McNamara, January 2007
  (4 of 10)

My opinion about this book would be much higher if it had not claimed to be a learning book. The intended audience are people with basic familiarity of HTML, and the authors "don't assume that you know anything about programming or scripting." If you fall into this category, I'd wouldn't recommend this book.

It starts with a couple gentle introductory chapters, followed by a very dense syntax dump in the third chapter. The intended reader may survive the sink or swim approach, but I suspect they're more likely to give up after that chapter. The now requisite Ajax chapter towards the end seems quite out of place, again because of the context of non-programmers just picking up scripting.

The rest of the book is a collection of useful examples in a cookbook style, with line-by-line annotations of the code (however not explaining the syntax specifically). If you learn by watching, or if you already write code and are looking for a good JavaScript cookbook, you'll be happy to have this on your shelf. If you've never coded a loop before, you'll need other books to really learn the mechanics.

Strengths: good cookbook for experienced programmers, sprinkled with useful tips (albeit buried in code explanations).

Weaknesses: way too much information that a learner has to take on faith, narrow column format drastically reduces code readability.

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Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax
by Christian Heilmann

1 edition
July 2006
512 pages

Reviewed by Andrew Monkhouse, September 2006
  (9 of 10)

Up until now, most JavaScript books I have seen have not really described how to be a good JavaScript programmer - most of them have lead by example (which is how many JavaScript programmers I know learnt JavaScript). Unfortunately learning JavaScript by simply viewing other people's code without understanding why it was written the way it was could also lead to learning by bad example.

Christian Heilmann's "Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax" is different - it teaches the reader the concepts that will help them to become a good JavaScript programmer. Perhaps more importantly, it teaches how to use JavaScript, CSS, DOM, and Ajax in a degradable manner, so that all visitors to your web site will be able to access it. Christian explains not only the guidelines for developing good code, but the reasons why it is important.

Christian's passion for creating maintainable, standards compliant, usable websites is clearly visible in his writing. Throughout the book he reiterates key issues that good programmers should know, and demonstrates them in his code.

This is an excellent book on JavaScript, and one that I will thoroughly recommend to anybody new to JavaScript programming. I also recommend it to anyone who plans to make their website more accessible to a wider audience (and who doesn't want that?).

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AJAX - Creating Web Pages with Asynchronous JavaScript and XML
by Edmond Woychowsky

Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
August 2006
432 pages

Reviewed by Ulf Dittmer, September 2006
  (3 of 10)

This book misses the mark of explaining where and how to use AJAX.

Less than half the pages deal with AJAX itself; the rest is taken up by introductions to (X)HTML, JavaScript, XML, Path, XSLT and Ruby (on Rails) - technologies that are related, but which the brief coverage here doesn't do justice. Furthermore, pages upon pages of HTML element/attribute listings, DOM methods or XSLT functions don't further the insight into AJAX.

The sole in-depth example is a shopping cart application, which is fine, but plenty of simple ready-to-run examples that show various aspects of working with AJAX would help much more. Other examples use outdated techniques like XML islands and hidden frames, which muddles the picture further.

The authors' style of writing also gets in the way. It's probably supposed to be easy-going, but includes a stream of witty and self-deprecating remarks that detract from the content, and by the 10th repetition of "this is all mad-scientist stuff" this reviewer was yearning for some actual stuff, not fluff.

The chapters of the book that do talk about AJAX provide a decent introduction to the XMLHttpRequest object, and how to use it to transfer information back and forth from the server. It?s all bits and pieces, though, and no big picture is ever provided. Anyone who was inspired by Google Mail or Google Maps to build AJAX apps will not know where to start after reading this book.

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Adobe AIR for JavaScript Developers Pocket Guide
by Mike Chambers, Daniel Dura, Kevin Hoyt, Dragos Georgita

1 edition
April 2008
204 pages

Reviewed by Balaji Loganathan, May 2008
  (8 of 10)

I was trying to learn Adobe AIR and was looking for some good set of learning resources. I found the book "Adobe AIR for Javascript Developers" from O'Reilly by and started reading it online. A cool book, the authors have done great job on presenting the topics as an easilit readable pocket guide. Soon after reading this book, i felt i got the right resource i want for now.
I found this book a bit more than a usual pocket guide.If you are a beginner and don't know anything about AIR, then this book is the best bet.The chapters were well organized to take you from novice stage to advanced stage in AIR.Covers ADOBE AIR 1.0Chapter I and II of this book teaches you many information and technical details about the AIR which might lots of time if you have to get it from Internet.The authors have given lots of code snippets while explaining a topic instead of lots of theoretical text. Some thing that programmers always look for.This book also gives an insight about Webkit engine, architecture of AIR and the security model of AIR. The most interesting part in this book is the "Mini cookbook". The mini cookbook chapter contains worked out samples with complete code explanation. It includes samples that can help you understand (from AIR perspective) Application Chrome, Windowing, File API, File Pickers, Service and Server Monitoring, Online/Offline, Drag-and-Drop, Embedded Database, Command-Line Arguments, Networking, Sound.This book is worth buying for its content coverage and its also very cheap.

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