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4.0 out of 5 stars jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques Beginner's Guide, 24 April 2011
By 
Diane Cipollo (Editor at BellaOnline.com) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Jquery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide (Paperback)
There are many ways to learn jQuery. There are examples and tutorials all over the web. But, I found myself reading several tutorials and downloading several examples just to understand one jQuery effect. That's when I decided to turn to the printed page and checked Amazon for the latest books to get the background knowledge needed to create my own jQuery animations.

jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques Beginner's Guide, by Dan Wellman, caught my eye because it took a different approach to teaching jQuery. The author concentrates on the animations one can create with the jQuery UI Library, CSS3 and the HTML5 canvas element. Most of the examples in the book are for web user interface elements and the sample code can be downloaded from the publisher's website.

The book starts with the simple built-in jQuery effects and builds up to creating custom animations. Although jQuery claims to be browser independent, the author does cover some of the work-arounds needed for the Internet Explorer browser.

As you would expect, the book begins with an introduction to jQuery and the most common built-in jQuery effects. The author teaches how to use a template as the base file for all the examples covered in the book, which is very helpful to the beginner when creating the first animation example in the book, a preloader. From simple animations, the author moves on to sequencing several animations, queue management and creating jQuery plugins.

Next, he discusses the jQuery UI and how to use this library of 14 effects to extend jQuery methods. At this point, the author gives a few examples of animating graphics. I especially like the bouncing ball and the window blinds that opened with a click of the mouse. Moving progressively to more complex animations, the author covers full page animations such as a stick man stop-motion walk cycle, mouse proximity events and an interactive game based on the canvas element.

Although this is a beginner's book on jQuery animation, the author assumes the reader has a working knowledge of JavaScript, HTML, CSS and some jQuery. I have to admit that I was hoping for more coverage of complex jQuery animations but this book would be good for anyone new to jQuery animation.

Dan Wellman is an author of several books and a web developer for the Design Haus agency.

*Packt Publishing provided a review copy to me free of charge.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Practical, Well Written Book on jQuery UI Animation, 26 May 2011
This review is from: Jquery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide (Paperback)
I was thrilled to be asked to review Dan Wellman's latest tome. I've been following Dan on Twitter for quite some time now, and have learned much about jQuery from his tweets. Packt Publishing's range of technical books have been a boon for web developers for a number of years now. They specialise in publishing technical books for niche technologies in a timely fashion and at a reasonable price point, often covering new and obscure topics that publishing behemoths like O'Reilly overlook. Scanning my technical bookshelf, Packt's offerings feature prominently. Helpfully, sample code featured in the books is usually available online from Packt. Additionally, Packt titles can be bought as downloadable books, for those times when you really need to learn something right now!

The book clocks in at a robust 311 pages, and is aimed at front-end developers with good knowledge of HTML and CSS, and a passing knowledge of jQuery and javascript. The first chapter sets up the rest of the book nicely, by running through the history of animation on the internet and explaning why jQuery and jQuery UI feature in the toolkit of today's front-end developers.

The book is written with best practices in mind, and progressive enhancement techniques are used where possible. As you might expect, HTML5 tags and CSS3 properties feature prominently - Dan is resolutely looking to the future. He slips in little nuggets relating to jQuery best practice from time to time. Browser bugs and hacks are also discussed where relevant. It's this attention to detail that makes a good technical book great.

The examples are fully formed and comprehensive from the start - the code snippets are practical, and may well find their way into your next project. Regular pop quizzes help the reader to check that they have grasped key concepts before moving on to the next section. A "Have a Go Hero" section challenges readers to apply the techniques they have learned to extend the functionality of the examples in the book.

The book opens with a number of chapters covering the main jQuery library, and its animation methods. There really is no filler to be found in the text. By chapter 5, the reader is learning how to write their own plugins.

As the author delves into jQuery UI with a series of small, but practical coding exercises, its power becomes apparent. The examples tend to mirror real world implementations, and some of the techniques can be seen on today's cutting edge websites. Of particular note are the animations that make use of new CSS3 transforms, which demonstrate how a few lines of code can create jaw-dropping effects.

The HTML5 canvas functionality gets a chapter to itself. Dan takes us through the somewhat cumbersome process of coding canvas line drawings through jQuery (fortunately tools and libraries are starting to emerge which take much of the drudgery out of this process). The chapter and book conclude with a rudimentary Space Invaders implementation.

This isn't a book you'll be able to consume in one sitting. Getting the best out of it will probably require at least two readings. That being said, anyone with moderate jQuery chops will be able to dip into the book, and use it immediately as a reference manual to solve specific problems. I heartily enjoyed it, and can only hope that I will be able to exercise the author's restraint when demonstrating my new found animation skills on client websites!
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Jquery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide
Jquery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide by Dan Wellman (Paperback - 18 Mar 2011)
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