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Javascript and Ajax for the Web (Visual QuickStart Guides) Paperback – 28 Aug 2006

2.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press; 6 edition (28 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321430328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321430328
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 2.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 636,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Tom Negrino is the author of dozens of books includingVisual QuickStart Guides covering Macromedia Contribute and Keynote, and Visual QuickProject Guides on upgrading to Mac OS X Tiger, Keynote, and PowerPoint.

Dori Smith is the author of Java for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide. She is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, publisher of the Wise-Women’s Web community, and a member of the Web Standards Project. Together they’ve written the best-selling Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, authored numerous print and online articles, and maintain the Backup Brain weblog.

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book having no knowledge of Javascript or Ajax to start with, and found it very clear, helpful and comprehensive. There are lots of examples, and the authors take the reader through things step by step. Towards the end there are sections for specific actions, such as creating rollover buttons and drop down menus, and if you want to you can just type in the scripts to get your page to work.

You would need a basic understanding of HTML and CSS and so on to fully understand this book; they do take you through those in sidebars, but I'd say this mightn't be enough if you really knew nothing about either - the authors themselves say that they expect readers to have some familiarity with basic HTML and CSS.

The book is accompanied by a website which allows you to download the scripts, gives examples, and gives access to downloads of chapters which appeared in earlier editions but have now been removed.

If you've never done any programming before, the book is a good starting point for that; things are introduced slowly and with lots of explanation.

The style is casual and chatty, and the book is enjoyable to read.

It's probably not enough for advanced javascript, but that's not the aim and there are plenty of other books which give more advanced techniques and which would be useful as follow-ons from this one.
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Format: Paperback
I've used other books in this series for PHP, MySQL, XHTML, and CSS. They've been on the whole very clear. It came as some disappointment then that this book was quite a lot more obscure. To be fair to the authors, they do say in the introduction that they 'won't delve too deeply into the syntax'. If you're the sort of person who runs a mile from syntax, you may be happy to naively type in their scripts without asking why something is structured in a particular way or what terms like *this* mean. I spent the first chunk of chapters trying to deduce the syntactic considerations for myself from examples, but it's not easy. The syntax is essential to really understanding what's going on and to taking your own next steps. My guess is that more readers can't on the basis of this input. For myself, I can see me graduating pretty quickly to the Essential Javascript book from O'Reilly in order to make sense of what's going on.
Overall, I think the authors' approach doesn't work. Sadly, it's made worse by the rather irritating habit that some American educational authors have of adopting a jokey -- but not particularly funny -- tone. Why do they do that?
I've enjoyed the Visual Quickstart series up until now, but I will think twice next time before assuming they're all up to the same standard.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book for beginners, i.e. developers who have little or no JavaScript knowledge. QuickStart books always have hands-on examples which is useful as it lets you see how stuff works straight-away without getting too bogged down in code.

I read through the book quickly (as I'm comfortable with PHP and already know a bit of JavaScript) but it gave me a good solid base knowledge & when I started writing my own little scripts, I had the book on my side as reference to iron out my beginner mistakes.

One element which was missing was information about accessibility and graceful degradation, so I'd recommend that once you've finished reading the QuickStart book you get yourself a book by [...] to understand how to use Ajax without making a site inaccessible (e.g. javascript turned off).

But even with this info missing this is a really useful beginner's guide to JavaScript & Ajax. It's hands-on, covers all the important bits & pieces and gives enough examples so that beginners can see how scripts work in action. Buy this book together with a book by [...] and your JavaScript library is sorted!
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Format: Paperback
JacaScript & Ajax starts off by hastily covering the basics of programming, such as while- and for-loops in 40 pages. This pace is overwhelming for beginners but also a very peculiar combination with the authors' style to underestimate the reader: half-way through, the book's major concern seems to be to make sure that the reader understands that in the clause a = b; b is assigned to a. The book doesn't go in-depth into JavaScript syntax, which can be a relief for some, but will revenge itself sooner or later.

Let me give you an example from page 310:

"function showTheHours(theHour) {
Next, set up a function called showTheHours, containing the variable theHour."

Negrino & Smith's biggest failure, however, is the lack of the overall picture. Basically what the book provides you with is uself example code, and a translation of the code into plain English. Only that the authors seem to assume that the reader is a computer baffled only with the details, not a thinking mind struggling to make out what the code does as a whole.

In addition, the authors seem keen on urging the reader to use pop-up alerts, cryptic variable and file names and prehistoric usability solutions. What they do cover quite well however is cross-browser compatibility for major browsers.

Even with its flaws, it's not completely useless. I learned a lot about JavaScript by wading through this, though I'm convinced there's a book that would have been more helpful and less painful.
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