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Book Review: Murach's Javascript and jQuery Rate Topic: -----

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 08:16 PM


Book Review: Murach's Javascript and jQuery
by Zak Ruvalcaba, Mike Murach
IBSM: 978-1-890774-70-7
Amazon Link
Price: $54.50 USD

I finished up "Murach's Javascript and jQuery" and I am beyond impressed. This is a great book for someone with a beginner's level of programming and will take you through, not only the code of javascript and jquery, but the reasons why. This is not to say it isn't an excellent book for moderate to advanced programmers - the projects help quickly identify the uses and structure needed to get you from a limited background in javascript to a up and running in no time.

What really impressed me out of the entire five hundred and ninty eight pages were often over looked, but crucial pieces of book education: debugging, realistic projects, and how to set up your environment. This is what truly separates this book versus a run of the mill programming language book. Before I get into that let's look at an over view of the content.

The book is divided into five sections and eighteen chapters. The language tour starts with the aptly named 'Essentials'. Here you would get a background of how a webpage interacts with a server, how things differ from a desktop application, basic html you need to get up and going, and a primer on core computer science topics like functions, objects, data types, and that crazy DOM thing all to finish up with javascript syntax, structure, and maneuvering around.

From there it launches you into jQuery and why it would differ from vanilla javascript. This includes DOM manipulation, plugins, and fun visual effects. The book gives a fair shake down of jQuery UI and detailed explanation of when and how to use things like the accordion and popups.

For me the sections on Ajax, JSON, and api usage was invaluable. Typically I slog through Ajax with only a surface level of knowledge but enough to get my project done. Now I am armed with a coherent explanation and concrete projects that really sink the information in.

THe final section is a nice nugget of how to utilize jquery to make your page adaptable for mobile usage. Something handy I will keep in mind later for future site uses.

Now that content is all great and thoroughly explained, but as I said this book is elevated for the topics often not covered in others. First debugging. It's great for a new programmer to wander around sniping code and just tinkering with it, but that doesn't help them learn how to fix the inevitable problems that arise. The debugging section walks you through common issues, how to find an error, and what to do about it. This sort of pro-self sufficient boost helps any new person from becoming just frustrated and quitting. It arms them with the means to take charge and correct their code without relying on slogging through the internet to find help.

The second are is the projects. Oh man the projects are great! They are not some abstract concept these are well crafted, continuously improved with each chapter, and really real world. Email lists, FAQs, image swaps, and so on are all things that are often used and now readily available. Then the section on APIs actually shows you how to hook into google maps and twitter. Sure it's a bit of a gamble since apis change and a book doesn't, but that sort of real world enthusiasm that helps a lone developer without a teacher or class to rely on.

The last area is the chapter dedicated to the environment setup. The book uses Aptana Studio 3 and thankfully explains how to install it, what to look for, and how to interact with it. I have so many books on my shelf that just wave their hand at the environment aspect and just figure the reader can grind through errors in installation and just gimp through irregular environments. The fact they took the time to work this out really shows a dedication for those just starting out and a sigh of relief from the more advanced users that they do not have to waste hours with an uncertain environment setup but can just dive into the code.

Coming from an advanced application developer and a moderate web dev looking to shore up years of patchy javascript and jquery nuggets I found this book to be really informative and clearly laid out. As a dev that helps out greenhorns and clearing a path for others to pickup some skills I cannot recommend this book enough as a total end to end package.

At the end a definite 8/10 stars!

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