Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax (Book review)

I'll say it right from the start: this book is great. There are several other books that teach modern JavaScript, but Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax is really focused on explaining unobtrusive and accessible scripting techniques, which I think is excellent. This book is suitable for JavaScript beginners wanting to learn how to write JavaScript the right way, as well as for more experienced scripters who need to modernise their skills.

The author, Christian Heilmann, is a member of The Web Standards Project's DOM Scripting Task Force and the author of many great articles on various topics related to Web development and accessibility. In this book he explains JavaScript right from the very basics to some reasonably advanced concepts, while always making sure you understand how to make your scripts accessible and unobtrusive.

I very much like the way Chris takes the time to explain why certain practices make scripts less accessible or usable, and how he repeats the message that you always have to think about what happens when scripting is unavailable or a keyboard user interacts with your script. He rubs that message in for a good reason–if you want to become a respected JavaScripter, there's just no other way of approaching scripting.

After going through the basics of JavaScript, explaining syntax, data types, and operators, the book moves on to practical examples that explain, among other things, how to change the presentation layer with JavaScript, how to manipulate images and windows (as well as why doing so may be problematic), and how to improve navigation and form handling. As the title of the book reveals, the book also explains how you can use Ajax to retrieve data from the server without reloading the page. The final chapter is a very handy guide to JavaScript debugging and common scripting mistakes.

There is not much in the way of visual bling-bling scripts like drag-and-drop or drop-down menus to be picked up here. What you will learn is almost completely focused on practical, functional, usable scripts that will add real value to the websites or applications you build.

The only complaint I have about this book is a rather minor one: the number of typos. I know I am picky in that regard, but I think this book would have needed at least one more pair of eyes for proofreading. Other than that, Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax is an excellent book.

Details for Beginning JavaScript with DOM Scripting and Ajax
Author: Christian Heilmann
ISBN: 1590596803

Posted on February 23, 2007 in Reviews, JavaScript