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John Larsen

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Single Page Web Applications: JavaScript end-to-end
Single Page Web Applications: JavaScript end-to-end
by Michael Mikowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: 22.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A clearly explained, well structured introduction., 30 Jun 2014
I really liked this book.

The authors guide the reader through the steps required to build a fully functioning real-time chat application, with all code in JavaScript (apart from HTML and CSS of course). The shell, modules, utilities, data approach works well and is clearly outlined. In fact, I think the book gets the balance of overviews and details just about right - you always know at what stage you are in the process, how the current step fits in and why they have approached it in a certain way. The code examples are well annotated, match with the downloadable sample code and run as expected. The writing is direct, simple and clear, without too many ‘jokes’, unnecessary metaphors or asides in the main text.

MongoDB, Node, Express,, jQuery and plain JavaScript are all present and correct and there is also discussion of JSON schemas and validation, TaffyDB, global events, fake data, url state and testing with nodeunit. Clearly, with so much to cover, the book can’t go into huge detail for every topic covered. However, the examples are very well chosen and do manage to provide useful insights and pathways for further investigation. One common facet of spa development that is missing is templating. It is mentioned in a sidebar but the authors opt to go with string concatenation instead.

There is a lot of printed code in the book, with some duplication. However, the annotations are mostly valuable and all the code does mean the book can be read away from a computer. There are very few typos and only occasional variable name switches - in fact, as these books go, this one has remarkably few errors.

I think the book is a very good introduction to single page web applications, taking a well thought out, structured approach to its example application that provides a solid overview for beginners to these apps and some profitable insights for more experienced developers.

Ext JS in Action
Ext JS in Action
by Jesus Garcia
Edition: Paperback
Price: 21.37

3.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction with mostly clear examples., 25 Mar 2014
This review is from: Ext JS in Action (Paperback)
ExtJS In Action is a reasonably good introduction to the widgets, classes, utilities and approaches provided by the ExtJS JavaScript application framework. It has a light, enthusiastic tone throughout - I was actually excited to get started after the overview of the first chapter - and the progression, chapter by chapter, is sensible and accessible. Most of the code listings are short and to the point and are good, usable examples of the concepts being discussed in the main text. If your own applications are similar to the examples then they provide a good base from which to work. The book takes you through from basic windows, dialogs, panels and widgets, via layouts, data and drag and drop to the class system and application design, build and deployment. It does a good job of giving you a feel for the framework and points you in the direction of further help.

While the tone is positive and enthusiastic, the actual writing is sometimes a bit clunky and unclear. The choice of words and phrases can be just slightly off what you would expect, forcing you to re-read sentences and sections. The book is like a good translation into English, but one where you can still tell it is a translation. Fortunately, the concise code examples and general context of each chapter help to resolve most issues. Occasionally, the code and commentary don’t match up, code appears that isn’t explained or the text says how important a particular property is but the property doesn’t appear in the code. There are also a few mistakes in the code, with some objects from previous versions still appearing when not usable in version 4.

The code is available on GitHub and there is also a companion website. Both are useful. However, the online code doesn’t always match the book and the website is a mix of book editions with links in new sections often dropping you into pages for the previous edition.

Overall, I would recommend the book as an introduction to ExtJS. Personally, I would have liked some more in-depth examples and a longer section on putting it all together with MVC. I’ll have to find further reading to fully understand how all the pieces fit together. If you’re a seasoned framework user with a solid grasp of JavaScript applications then you can add an extra star as the mistakes won’t phase you. If you’re more of a beginner you’ll need to take longer to decode some of the murkier paragraphs and make the code work consistently for you.

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