Simply JavaScript (Book review)

A book that is sub-titled "Everything you need to learn JavaScript from scratch" is obviously not aimed at experienced JavaScript developers. However I don't think Simply JavaScript is suitable for absolute beginners either, since it contains programming examples that aren't all that easy for someone without at least some programming or scripting experience to wrap their head around.

The authors, Kevin Yank and Cameron Adams, get off to a great start by explaining the three layers the Web is built on (presentation, content, and behaviour) and how CSS, HTML, and JavaScript should be used for each separate layer. When a JavaScript book starts by talking about unobtrusive scripting and even mentions that perhaps JavaScript isn't always the best way of solving a problem, you can be reasonably sure that it's been written by someone who knows about modern Web development.

Since this book is not aimed at JavaScript experts, there is a whole chapter devoted to explaining the basics of programming with JavaScript. Variables, statements, conditions and loops, functions, and objects are all talked about in an easy-to-understand way, accompanied by plenty of code examples and illustrative figures.

After the first two introductory chapters, the authors dive into some actual programming for the next several chapters. The DOM, events, animation, form scripting, finding and debugging errors, and Ajax are all discussed in one chapter each. The final chapter takes a look ahead at the future of JavaScript.

Throughout the book, the Core JavaScript library is used to make some common DOM scripting tasks easier. I hadn't heard of Core before, but it seems to do the job and is very lightweight. It's so small that the entire source is included in the book.

Overall I think the authors do a great job of explaining JavaScript. The examples and code are easy to follow and explained well, and the book is written in a friendly and inviting tone. I picked up a few tips and tricks from reading this book, which for me makes it worth the time it took to read it.

Revisiting the sub-title of this book, I think the audience that will get the most out of it falls somewhere in between the novice and expert levels. To me it seems best suited for designers or developers with a decent knowledge of HTML and CSS and some familiarity with JavaScript. If that describes you, I can recommend Simply JavaScript.

As with all SitePoint books, there are sample chapters you can download to find out if the book is right for you.

Simply JavaScript
Authors: Kevin Yank, Cameron Adams
ISBN-10: 0980285801
ISBN-13: 978-0980285802

Posted on January 17, 2008 in Reviews, JavaScript