Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Review: Learning The Yahoo! User Interface Library

I love Javascript. It's an elegant language with a bad rap. And with the proliferation of frameworks that build on the standard and browser-specific functionality, developers have a rich set of tools with which to build extremely rich user interfaces. The Yahoo User Interface, or YUI, is among the heavier frameworks that attempt to provide a near replacement API for the standard Javascript and DOM specifications. It's a closer competitor to the likes of Adobe Flex in the "DHTM Vs. Flex" wars, but as with most Javascript frameworks, is completely open source and free.

I really wanted to like this book, because YUI is a really interesting technology. But, unfortunately there were so many wasted pages that it became difficult to get into the narrative. When I read a technology book cover-to-cover, as is the only way I consume technology books (reference material should be online and searchable) I want a short introduction, a simple example and then elaboration. Instead, this book presents a detailed introduction, a complex multi-page example, and very little elaboration. This forced me to flip around a lot to understand what part of the five pages of code HTML, CSS, and Javascript was supposed to be the part I was learning about. It was nice to attempt to build something useful instead of dummy examples, but without a more simple concept from which I could build, I had to work for the knowledge that is so simply presented in other texts.

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