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JavaScript & DHTML Cookbook
JavaScript & DHTML Cookbook
by Danny Goodman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Showing its age., 14 May 2011
The trouble with a lot of web-related books is that they can age very quickly. A book on Facebook, for instance, will likely be out of date before it hits the shops. Javascript itself fairs much better, as is fairly robust and non-changing. DHTML... hmmm, in itself, DHTML is the same as its always been. However, as soon as you combine it with DOM manipulation then you hit the wall that is browser compatability.

The book was written in 2007. It worries about IE5 compatability. I am writing this using IE9. Firefox 4 is out now. Chrome exists. Go figure.

That being said, the logic behind how the code works is sound. Algorithms to calculate visibile window size etc hold whatever language you are using. Its just out of date when applied using the examples.

Had I written this review in 2007, I would have awarded it 5 stars, as it is excellent for its time. However, if you are looking in 2011 for a book on Javascript and DHTML etc, I recommend instead that you look at http://www.amazon.co.uk/DOM-Scripting-Design-JavaScript-Document/dp/1430233893/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305357321&sr=1-1.


Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference
Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference
by Danny Goodman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £38.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book. Not a tutorial though., 4 May 2011
I've always thought of this as one of those must-have books. However, on looking at its cover once again, it is quite plain to see that in the years I have owned the book, I have very rarely actually consulted it.

Why is that? Well, for one thing, it is a reference book. It isn't a tutorial, nor does it try to be. So I wouldn't use it to learn DHTML or CSS etc.

Now this in itself is perfectly reasonable, as it is sold as a reference book, not as a tutorial, and does exactly what it says on the tin, so to speak.

However, when I need to look something up, I am normally sat at my computer, so the first thing I do is hit a search engine. It is only when I have exhausted my online alternatives that I would turn to a book like this, and even then it wouldn't be my first choice.

So, for a non-academic environment, I would say this is a far from essential purchase. I won't give it any lower than three stars, as it is an excellent reference book. However, looking at it in retrospect, my work wouldn't have been affected one iota had I never purchased this book.

So its very good, but only if you genuinely need a definitive reference volume, as opposed to online help.

Now, were they to bring out a similar book that covered the Facebook Graph API then in the brief period it remained current I am sure I would love it, as the online resources for that are shockingly bad. However, there is a wealth of decent material available online for DHTML etc, so I cannot give this my full recommendation. Were I on a 10 hour flight then this may well be worth taking on board, but for every day use, I don't honestly find I need it.


PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide (Visual QuickPro Guides)
PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide (Visual QuickPro Guides)
by Larry Ullman
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to follow examples., 4 May 2011
This book is bad. It is also misleading. PHP 6 doesn't even exist, yet this book has been out for a few years now. However, I could easily forgive that little fib if the rest of the book was actually a decent PHP tutorial. Unfortunately it isn't though. This is because its layout makes it nigh on impossible to follow the examples. The two column format adopted by the book is ridiculous for presenting code samples. I found myself jumping back and forth between pages as I was trying to match the narrative with the sample code.

This is what I mean by impossible to follow. I don't mean the examples themselves were hideously complicated. I mean they were laid out atrociously. Who knows, if you don't want to bother with the source code, then you may get more out of this book than I did. However, I found it a complete waste of time.


Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns
Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns
by Michael Bowers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Best CSS book I have used., 3 May 2011
First things first, this isn't really a book for a CSS novice. I guess that is where the "pro" in the title comes from. However, if you know your CSS basics then you will reap many benefits. For instance, if you have ever used CSS for a page, only to have it break in another browser, and spend hours (or days) fixing it, only to find that it now breaks in the original browser, then you have reached the level where this book will benefit you.

It isn't a very stylish book. Instead, this book concentrates entirely on the practicalities. Examples are of the bare boned, minimal variety, designed to show off a particular technique, without any bells and whistles. It works well, and you will soon find a workable solution to your problem. I say workable solution, as opposed to correct solution, because, often, what you have already is the correct solution, in well behaved browsers. This book will show you the methods that work in pretty much all browsers.

There is an HTML5 / CSS3 version out in September. If you are stuck now though, I wouldn't wait. This book will save you many hours of frustration.


CSS: The Definitive Guide
CSS: The Definitive Guide
by Eric A. Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat dry introduction to CSS., 25 April 2011
I first read this book a few years ago, and it was a fairly painful experience. It is what I would describe as a functional book. It does exactly what it sets out to do, which is teach you CSS. However, it doesn't do it in a very interesting fashion. Simply put, its boring.

However, in its favour, the samples are accurate, and you will definately learn CSS if you stick with it. However, you can also reach the same standard following the Apress guides, which tend to be a bit more interesting.

Lets face it, most of the learning CSS books tend to have the same samples of sliding doors, tabs and other obscurely named techniques anyway. If you fancy help from the steady dependable chap, then use this book. If you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, then you may want to look elsewhere.

Incidently, the author now has a sequel of sorts, which is a lot shorter but far more interesting to read. If you are a beginner, I would start here then move on to that one later. You will be more likely to read that one more than once.

On a final note, in my experience, one thing nearly all the CSS books lack is a decent explanation as to how position: absolute works. So I will give a quick one now. When you use position: absolute, you can then specify the position of an element absolutely. You can specify top, left, bottom and/or right. The position is absolute with respect to the browser window itself, or the nearest positioned parent. The key phrase here is "positioned parent". If you have a div and you have given it the "position: relative" attribute, then any element within that div can be positioned absolutely with respect to that parent div. So, imagine you have a little search box. Provided it is wrapped in a position: relative, it is simple to plonk a go button in it, and use absolute position to get it looking exactly how you want.

Hmmm, having explained it myself, I can see why other people have had problems as well.


JavaScript: The Good Parts
JavaScript: The Good Parts
by Douglas Crockford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.63

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great if you already know how to program., 25 April 2011
I have been programming for longer than I care to remember. These days I use mainly PHP, though have dabbled with Javascript and jQuery when I have been unable to avoid doing so. Given that Javascript has regained a lot of its previous popularity, and is once again socially acceptable, I thought it was about time that I got to grips with it properly.

Typical javascript books seem to be aimed at beginners to programming, or experienced javascript programmers. The latter tend to sail over my head unless they come with decent examples. The former are frustratingly terse when it comes to the meaty matters that you really need to get to grips with if you want to take the language seriously. I guess their logic is that to dwell on such matters would scare the newcomer off.

This book, treads a great middle ground. It is written by somebody who quite clearly knows an awful lot about programming in a variety of languages. In this book, he succinctly explains all the good bits of Javascript that you should be sticking to as much as possible, and also highlights the bad stuff. The thing is, once you have read it a couple of times (it is a short book), not only will you be able to write good javascript code, but you will also be able to forgive javascript for some of the terrible stuff.

Note though, that this book doesn't go into any detail about web matters. You will get no utility functions for manipulating the DOM or anything funky like that. What you will get though, is a thorough grounding in Javascript, the core language, itself.

Prior to reading this book, I have been writing my own lightbox routine. Naturally I having been looking at other examples to see how they did it, but I tended to get lost following their code. Thanks to this book, it all makes a lot more sense.

This is a thoroughly good read IF you are a programmer already, wanting to learn Javascript properly. If you are looking for a few quick fixes, then this book is not for you.


Web Design Index 9
Web Design Index 9
by Pepin Press
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for what it does., 21 April 2011
This review is from: Web Design Index 9 (Paperback)
If you want a book that has thousands of fairly current front pages of websites, then this is for you. If you have any other requirement, then look elsewhere.

As it happens, I was updating a client's site, and they were stuck for ideas. By glancing through the pages of this book they were able to do two things:

Identify what sucked.
Identify what rocked.

What sucked was easier to identify than what rocked, which is why I listed it first. However, this book made the process fairly painless. We were soon able to draw up a wireframe of what we wanted, and the book paid for itself in under an hour.

You will not learn how to do anything with this book. It will not teach you CSS, or PHP or anything. It will show you loads of website front pages. If thats what you want, then go for it. If you need ANYTHING else, then avoid!


Smashing CSS: Professional Techniques for Modern Layout (Smashing Magazine Book Series)
Smashing CSS: Professional Techniques for Modern Layout (Smashing Magazine Book Series)
by Eric Meyer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful refresher for CSS best practices, 21 April 2011
I first came across Eric Meyer when I was learning CSS a few years back. His CSS bible published by O'Reilly gave me a thorough yet somewhat dry understanding about the ins and outs of CSS. Then I promptly forgot half of what I learned and concentrated on what I remembered.

Since then, my CSS has got a lot snappier, and I can now knock out layout in my head. I bought this book though, firstly because it never hurts to catch up with the latest (and not-so-latest) trends, but also because I respected Eric as an author and I wanted to see what else he had up his sleeves.

The book covered a lot of old ground, however, it was covered more succinctly. Basically, it was a refresher course for what I already knew. Surprisingly, there were a fair few things I had forgotten about, and being presented with a potted summary let me fill those whole with ease. This is much better than rereading the weighty tome that was his original CSS bible.

There was some new stuff, but most of it you can pick up if you keep an eye on the List Apart website. That website is a bit of an industry must-bookmark anyway, so if you take one thing away from this review, take that.

I won't give this book five stars, because there was no "killer technique" that I hadn't already come across. However, if you know a bit about CSS and are looking for a go-to book which contains all the nuggets you really need to know, then look no further.


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