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Book Review – The Book Of JavaScript – 2nd Edition by Dave Thau

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In his second go-around with The Book Of JavaScript, Dave Thau has knocked another one out of the park. The first book, published in January of 2000, while an incredibly good book, was showing its age. To say a lot has happened in the past seven years with regard to web development techniques would be an understatement. This book was long overdue.

For those who do not know, JavaScript is the technology that allows web pages to be dynamic, interactive and more flexible. There are other technologies such as CGI, VBScript and Flash, but these have limitations and are many times useful only in specific situations.

Make no mistake, this book is geared for the beginning user, but I think that there is also a lot for the more experienced user, as well as for those who are in need a refresher. The Book Of JavaScript is broken down into 18 chapters and 4 appendices. Major topics include: working with variables, browsers, rollovers, windows, timing, frames and image maps, validation, cookies and dynamic HTML. There is also over 150 pages that cover the new AJAX technology.

What I like about this book is that every topic is well written and covered in-depth. For example, in chapter seven, Thau explains about working with forms. He takes you from writing HTML forms, reading from the forms, writing to forms and triggering events from form elements. He goes into the use of the keyword “this” as well as using the “id” attribute and retrieving it using the JavaScript function getElementByID(). Each topic addressed and built upon in a logical progression.

Chapter 13 takes us in to the world of dynamic HTML or DHTML. He explains clearly what it is, why it is useful, and shows websites that make use of it. He explains how to use JavaScript to manipulate divs to make DHTML. Understanding that DHTML too big of a topic to cover here, he goes into it enough to give you the basics for use with AJAX.

The next two chapters are devoted to Asynchronous JavaScript and XML or AJAX. This is the new technology that allows web pages to act more like desktop applications. By the use of DHTML and the ability to download and display information, we can now present screens to the user that do not have the familiar submit and wait cycle.

At the end of each chapter is a summary and an assignment for you to practice your new skills. Instead of a companion CD, there is a companion website for this book. It contains all of the examples used in the book as well as freeware for use with JavaScript.

The author, Dave Thau, has been creating internet applications since 1993. He has taught programming to hundreds of artists, engineers and children. He is currently working toward a Ph. D in computer science at the University of California, Davis.

I find that this book is a very easy read. It is easy to understand and use. If you are new to JavaScript, if you want to refresh skills, The Book Of JavaScript is a great place to get you up to speed.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.