Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review: Javascript The Definitive Guide 6th Edition


It's very important that you read the 6th edition, because this is the one that covers the latest updates to HTML, including HTML5 / ECMAScript 5.  That being said, this book is awesome.  The first eleven chapters are on the core language features.  The twelfth chapter covers server-side Javascript (Node.js), and the remaining chapters 13-22 cover Javascript in the browser.

Too many books teach the DOM-specific extensions to the language as if the DOM is part of Javascript.  It's not.  The DOM is an ugly hack of a global object with a terribly inconsistent API scarred during the first browser wars of the early 1990's.  Libraries such as jQuery exist today specifically to keep that nonsense out of our client-side code, so teaching DOM manipulation is a waste that only serves to frustrate Javascript initiates.  Worse, it gives Javascript a bad name.

This book purposefully separates the language from the browser APIs, which is brilliant.  I recommend that developers new to Javascript read chapters 1-11 and switch to a book on jQuery or just skip to the chapter on jQuery in this book.  It doesn't give the best treatment to jQuery I've ever read, but it's a good enough sample to get most users started.

Reading this book is also useful because it truly is definitive. It makes a great desk reference for those who aren't fond of Googling for StackOverflow or w3schools syntax examples.  So, if one uses this book as an introduction, it the knowledge of the book itself will carry over into day-to-day work.

This goes on my list of most important Javascript books (along with Test Driven Javascript which I am still reading, Javascript Patterns, and Javascript: The Good Parts).

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