posted by Jeff Boes on Wed 21st Feb 2007 04:32 UTC
IconThe Book of JavaScript (2nd edition) by "thau!" (Dave Thau, according to the book's companion website) is a new and comprehensive introduction to the JavaScript language presented in an entertaining, practical format. I was provided a review copy by the publisher, No Starch Press. I have significant practical experience with JavaScript, so I do not consider myself in the target audience for this book; however, I still found much of it useful so it will remain as a valuable reference on my bookshelf.

Individual chapters address common JavaScript concepts and constructs in a practical, easy-to-approach manner. The book assumes no previous programming experience (but it does assume the reader is quite familiar with web page construction in general). From an overview of JavaScript, its abilities and limitations, to a gentle introduction to programming language constructs like variables and functions, onward to windows, forms, events, cookies, and then even delving deep into DHTML, CSS, XML, and Ajax, this book attempts to cover enough of the current usage of the language to get a casual or part-time programmer up to speed.

Each chapter includes numerous examples, and many of the longer, more difficult ones have a "Line-by-Line Analysis" section in which the author dissects the example with straightforward descriptions. The information builds through the chapter to the end, at which point the author summarizes what he's presented, and then (in a pleasant surprise compared to other books I've read recently) offers up a "homework assignment" to cement and assimilate the newly-acquired skill. Often the assignments expand on work presented in the chapter, so the reader isn't left alone to write "code from scratch", which is often daunting to the new programmer. Numerous cross-references to live websites (such as Greasemonkey and Flickr) illustrate how JavaScript techniques bring real websites to life.

After all the exploration, the reader is walked through the development of a significant Ajax application, a shared "to-do" list webpage. Anyone who diligently follows to this point would be a capable JavaScript programmer.

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