JavaScript and AJAX for Dummies Review

Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 in Articles, Book Reviews | 0 comments

I just finished reading JavaScript and AJAX For Dummies by Andy Harris.

I like the Dummies and Idiots books. I think they’re great if you don’t know much about a subject and want to get an introduction to it.

I took a course at college about JavaScript ten years ago. Back before jQuery and all that. The knowledge didn’t really stick with me and I’ve always felt uncomfortable using JS and tried to avoid it. I want to be able to use AJAX (which I know nothing about) so I need to update my JS skills.

One of the things I like best about this book is that it covers debugging. I use Firebug in Firefox, but all I really know how to do is the CSS stuff. The Inspect Element menu item is the BEST THING EVER. It’s so helpful in fixing CSS problems. Anyway, I never bothered reading more about Firebug and what it can do. Now I know how to use it and Aptana to debug JavaScript. The author is a fan of using Aptana for JS and it seems to me that it’s good.

The first JavaScript section goes over the fundamentals. Variables, loops, arrays. But it also covers objects and JSON. I hadn’t used objects before in JavaScript, only PHP and C++. I had no idea what JSON was. Now I know that it stands for JavaScript Object Notation and what it is.

I don’t know how easy this section would be to understand if you didn’t have a programming background, but I thought he explained everything clearly and with good examples. But I don’t think too many people without a programming background would be or should be reading a book that involves AJAX anyway.

The second JavaScript section talks about actually changing elements on a page with JavaScript, using the DOM. There’s a small section on regular expressions, which I didn’t expect. This section was interesting but I can’t really think of anything to say about it.

The third part covers jQuery and AJAX. I was expecting a little more than two chapters about AJAX, but maybe more isn’t really necessary. After the first chapter in this section, he uses jQuery for all the examples. He mentions other JS libraries but recommends jQuery. I’ve “used” jQuery before, adding image galleries and things, but not modifying it or writing it myself. I was surprised at how easy it is to use jQuery and AJAX to interact with PHP.

I think this book was a good introduction to JavaScript and AJAX and would recommend it. I can’t come up with any cons to this book except the example that consisted of the ants song.

This book is not for complete beginners. You need to know HTML and CSS. It would be best if you’ve at least fooled around with JavaScript before and are familiar with PHP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *