jQuery in Action Book Review

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jQuery in Action, Second Edition

I’ve always been very good at keeping my skills sharp and learning new technologies as they emerge. My favorite way to do so has often been to read books on various IT topics and to experiment. It’s only natural that associates and friends often ask me to recommend books to them. I’ve been using jQuery for about 3 years now for most of my JavaScript development and wanted to get a more in-depth understanding of it. To do so, I turned to jQuery in Action, Second Edition by Bear Bibeault and Yehuda Katz.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is extremely up-to-date covering jQuery 1.4 and the jQuery UI 1.8. This book is very well written with a number of very clear examples and sample code. The book follows a very natural progression. I’ve been exposed to jQuery before and have even been using it for some time but in reading even the introductory chapters I learned a number of concepts and techniques that I was previously unaware. I can also see how this natural progression through the subject matter would make it possible for a jQuery beginner to gain a very good understanding of jQuery development.

jQuery Fundamentals

The book begins with a basic overview of the jQuery library and its fundamentals. This discussion talks about the jQuery namespace and the use of the common $ alias in jQuery code. It also provides some very good discussion of the benefits of jQuery. From here the authors move through a very natural progression of topics. First, they discuss the wrapped HTML set and how to use jQuery to select specific HTML elements. They also discuss a number of ways to work with the wrapped set and selections of elements such as understanding how to find sibling or child elements. There’s also some very useful discussion on how to determine the size of a selection when selecting elements and how to manipulate the selection.

Once the reader understands how to select elements, the authors move into a discussion of how to manipulate selected elements to create interactive pages. They discuss how to modify elements by adding CSS classes and how to modify the HTML attributes of selected elements. This discussion also deals with how to change the content of selected HTML elements and importantly, how to work with form element values using jQuery.

jQuery Events

From these basics, the book moves into a detailed discussion of the browser event model and how to listen for and respond to events in jQuery. The separation of behaviors from presentation is one of the key benefits of using jQuery so I was very glad to see a thorough discussion of how events works and how to respond to them.

The next section then deals with some of the more fun aspects of jQuery—animation and animation queuing. This section talks about the various effects that can be create with jQuery and how chains of animation effects are queued up.

Ajax

No JavaScript web application is complete without a discussion of Web 2.0 and Ajax. The jQuery library has a number of shorthand Ajax helper functions as well as a fairly detailed Ajax function that allows for an extreme amount of control over Ajax requests. The authors continue their deeper coverage by discussing the both the shorthand methods and the deeper intricacies of handling Ajax in a web application.

Utility Functions

While many books on jQuery and Javascript would stop at their coverage of Ajax, this book goes on to discuss the various jQuery utility functions, how to use jQuery with other Javascript libraries and how to develop plugins for jQuery. Plugins are a very big part of using jQuery so I was very glad to see the subject covered. They’re a handy way for developers to reuse common methods without having to copy and paste a lot of Javascript or continually reinvent the wheel.

jQuery UI

The final sections of the book go into a fairly detailed discussion of the jQuery UI library. The authors discuss themes and styling the various UI components. They then discuss the most common elements in more detail including the date picker, the accordion, tabs and several other UI elements.

This book is really very thorough and covers a great deal of ground without being too dense or mostly fluff. While it assumes some familiarity with Javascript, I can see how a jQuery beginner could use this as the one book to go from beginner to intermediate jQuery developer. The coverage is thorough and the progression through the material is very progressive with each section building upon the material from the earlier one. I give this book 5 stars! What about you? Please share your experience with this book!

Publisher: jQuery in Action, Second Edition
Amazon: jQuery in Action, Second Edition

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