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on 15 January 2007
The 5th edition of the one and only bible of JavaScript, by the language guru David Flanagan, is not a surprise, but a beautiful confirmation. The 4th edition, which I've been using until a few days ago, was (and is) an invaluable reference even though it started to become a bit outdated. The new version is even more "biblic" than before, featuring nearly 1000 pages of in-depth explanation and reference. New sections include Ajax (of course, it's the cool thing of these years!), client side graphics (SVG, VML and <canvas>), JavaScript namespaces and communication with Flash and other embedded media.

The book can be divided in 2 sections: the guide - which occupies about 600 pages - and the reference which accounts for the remaining 400. Browsing the index of the book, it turns out the the parts are actually 4: for this article, I however merged the first two (the guide) and the last two (the reference).

The first section covers every JavaScript aspect, with a detailed explanation of the language and almost everything than can be achieved using it. What is being actually taught are the "roots" of all the JavaScript features: to build the complex things, you need to work on those roots (or to grab more high-level tutorials somewhere else). However, this book has everything you need, as you can figure the rest out!

The second section is the reason why every web coder will want to have this book on his desk everyday. The reference is detailed, accurate, thorough and very easy to browse. As I wrote above, it's divided in 2 parts: Core Language and Client-side JavaScript.

All in all, what can be said about this book? Even though I'm not fond of client side programming and prefer to script on the server, this is one of the few books for which I can really find nothing bad to say. It's well written, simple to understand, entertaining. There's also the Italian translation: there's the previous edition on the shelves in Italy at present time, but we'll hopefully see this new fantastic edition translated soon.
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on 18 September 2011
I've read through a couple of starter books on Javascript and have past experience of C programming. However this book really is on a higher level and I feel like I am actually learning the true 'nature of the beast', painful as it is. Whereas the starter level books tell you how to make things work in the real world, this book describes why they work that way.

It's like learning how to drive a car and wanting to know how the gear box is put together at the same time though. I'm sure you could do a lot of Javascript programming with out the level of detail this book goes into, however hopefully my efforts will be rewarded !

I'd say that the examples used often introduce complicated syntax or extra twists that go beyond what is being illustrated, as a newby this does really make your head hurt, however I generally get there in the end if I go back and review what I have read. I've read a lot of Unix man pages in my time and reading this book is kind of like reading one long man page. Pretty un-relenting stuff compared to the chatty nature of the Dummies books for example ! Wish me luck completing this please ;-)


I have now finished reading the first part of this book. The second part is what I am really interested in and I am now hooked ! It's amazing to think that JavaScript is at the heart of the internet and WWW 2.0 . It surely can not be a wasted effort to learn about JavaScript. There is not a more authoritative book to learn from either as far as I know .


I'm now half way though the jQuery section of this book. I have revisited some of the easier books I read prior to this one today and it strikes me how they all gloss over the details. I promise you that once you have read through all the examples in this book and understood them you will feel like you have really advanced ! I feel like I am now getting ready to start making web pages and hope to try to make a living out of it.

One thing that stuck me is how the Author says he has been effected by Piracy. OK so it's good to have on-line copies of books, but I really like having a physical copy. I like to take it out with me and read it sat in the car for example. At Amazon's price you will probably end up paying that much in Electricity by the time you complete this book any how ! If nothing else this book is a great read and I find it highly stimulating to learn so much detail about a language that is so intrinsic to the web. I fail to see how time invested in reading this book can fail to pay dividends ! Great book .


I've really studied hard into HTML and CSS and now I've come back to this book and started reviewing the 'Client Side' section, having read it through some time ago. I have learned a lot from this book about programming in general and it's interesting to see from this review how far I have progressed in my reading ! Upon reflection I think some of the material in Pt. 1 of this book could be skipped, probably for 80-90 percent of readers... Details that are 'nice to know' but not essential unless you write advanced Library code or are trying to solve a specific problem.. So perhaps bare this in mind if you seem to be getting bogged down ! BTW The PDF version of this sits on my 'Retina' iPad and I love it !
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on 1 August 2014
I bought this book, along with 2 other titles "JavaScript: The Good Parts" & "Javascript Patterns", and all I can say is that this Trilogy is essential reading for any programmer.

These 3 books never leave my desktop! I have read them all cover to cover, Something I have never done with any other programming books I have ever bought. My bookshelf is littered with Half read, flicked through tomes of regret.

I can honestly say, that getting to understand the worlds most misunderstood programming language has probably been the most enjoyable experience of my programming career!

This tome is a lofty read, weighing in at a 1018 pages, it takes some doing to get through, but I can promise you, if you have been working with Javascript for a while, you are going to experience many epiphanies!

I admit as a cover to cover read, it is hard going, but it was the growing interest and the desire to learn more about the language that kept me going. I definitely feel, that after reading all three books my Javascript skills went through the roof!

The authors, style makes this book very approachable, which is a change from a majority of the programming books out there. Most books are either way too academic or far too dumbed down. I feel the author got it just right!
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on 27 May 2011
I used the previous editions for years and just received this one, from what I see the author has brought it up to date with the latest standards and additions, also devoting chapters to more extensions and tools, about server side applications, jquery and more.

The only way I can think of to improve the reading experience is to split the book.
Of course this could easily add a lot to the price, which at 25£ for this kind of content is really a bargain.

I like Flanagan's style (in this, and in his Ruby book as well) and if I could have only one javascript book, this would be it.
But like with all dynamic languages, coding serious applications in javascript requires some discipline and style that I feel are not addressed enough here -- I may be wrong because I'm not going to read it all again, but I have not seen it mentioning jslint or something like that.

So if you have a previous edition, or none at all, by all means get this one. For completeness and building one's style, I also suggest a careful read of the smaller O'Reilly trilogy (js the good parts, js patterns and high performance js).
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on 28 July 2011
I never really "got" javascript . I used it from time to time on web sites when I had to, but never wrote any original code - it was always cut and pasted from some site like DynamicDrive. Then jQuery came along. It was obvious from the demo sites that you could do some amazing things with this library and that it took away the ever present hassle of making stuff work with all the different version of IE. So I started to use jQuery and tried to understand about the $() and all the other seemingly impenetrable ()}); rather than just copy and paste. But it was an uphill struggle.

Then I read David Flanagan's chapter on functions then the chapter on jQuery in this book and it all became clear. As did lot's of other stuff about js. This is a brilliant book. The background about js - why it is like it is - is explained. The bad bits are spelt out and the good bits are thoroughly explained and demonstrated. Not for beginners - e.g. if you don't know what "overloading" is, you will struggle. The term (and many others) is used with the presumption you'll understand it.

But if you've a hankering to understand how js really works then get this book. I can't praise it enough !
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on 27 February 2007
After many years struggling with rudimentary JavaScript and never being able to find a sensibly structured book on the subject, a colleague recommended

'JavaScript - the Definitive Guide'. O'Reilly have never really impressed me as a publishing house but this book is the best there is. The coverage is as extensive as it is complete. Especially noteworthy is its carefully documented chapters on the relationships between functions and objects which other authors shy away from. Want to be as good as Dean Edwards ? This is the book to get you there.
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on 22 December 2011
It's a bit difficult to review this book. The current and previous editions have been reviewed numerous times by several Amazonians and javascripters. I can only concur with the majority of reviewers, and echo their sentiments about this book. Any javascript programmer worth his salt has a copy of this book on his/her desk. If you are programming in javascript (or planning to) then you must buy a copy of this book ASAP.

The definitive guide is a massive book, and will intimidate newbies (i.e. people who are either new to programming or new to javascript), but this book does the difficult task of catering to both the novice and expert javascript programmer.

It can be used to learn the language(syntax and semantics) if you are not familiar with Javascript, and it can be used purely as a reference book. It covers both client side and server side programming. It does an impressive job of covering a wide range of topics from basic stuff like loops, conditional statements etc to advanced topics like closures, prototyping and beyond.

Despite being a very technical book, the writing is lucid, and steers clear of jargons most of the time. The chapters are independent and can be read/referenced out of order although the reader will benefit by reading the chapters in order.

Highly recommended!

- A J
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on 12 November 2009
I'm a complete noob when it comes to JavaScript. So why, you may ask, did I plump for this book? Well, I'm glad you asked, because I came across the idea of buying a beginner's guide AND an expert's reference when I was scouring the review pages here in Amazon. "What a good idea" I thought, then I went ahead and ordered this book and "JavaScript in Easy Steps" at the same time. This sounds unlikely, but believe me, the two books complement each other very well, and together comprise what you might call a "crash course" in JavaScript. Obviously, I can't review this as an expert, because I'm still a noob, and I will remain so for quite some time. However, I know enough now to realise that this is going to be an invaluable reference book as I begin to delve deeper into JS (as it's sometimes called)
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JavaScript: The Definitive Guide is very extensive and thorough JavaScript book, which can be used as reference book but also can be read from beginning to end for someone completely new in the field.

The first 12 chapters provides rich introduction into the history of JavaScript and the core language functionality, following 10 chapters are about Client-Side JavaScript and last 300 pages are Core and Client-side JavaScript Reference.

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide will teach you developing in JavaScript, from core fundamentals up to the more detailed and advanced topics. Because The jQuery information is little more than 50 pages, covering 1.4 version, I suggest you look for some other book if you are primarily interested on using a library.

In my opinion, structure and the approach of the Client-side section of the book is most valuable part of this book. Author makes it a point to avoid pushing JavaScript frameworks by explaining the features of the language first and after that an explanation of the cross-browser simplification of using jQuery is following.

Considering remarks, one of them would be shortness of additions to more recent browsers like client storage and HTML5 features which are not covered so much in detail as the JavaScript history part of the book. Also, more examples would be welcome, especially in the book part concerning JavaScript usage with new HTML5 APIs.

In the end, if you're looking for a true guide, detailed understanding of the JavaScript functionalities, with small touch of jQuery, you can be sure this book would be more than welcome on your shelf.
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on 2 March 2016
A comprehensive, but ultimately dry and dull reference book to JavaScript and jQuery. This is the type of book I tend to buy but rarely read. I just have it on my shelf, and occasionally take it down to look up something. It's one of the better books on JavaScript, however.
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