Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ajax in Action - Book review

Last night I finished reading Ajax in Action. And although I have great respect for the authors' abilities, I found it to be a disappointing activity. Please read on why it may still be the book for you.

I found the book lying around on a table at my office. To prevent being the last developer in the world doing something with Ajax, I thought I'd better read it. Initially my heart jumped when I read the mini JavaScript introduction in an appendix. As a hard core Java programmer (with teachings in diverse range of currently somewhat old languages) I was completely in the target group. I found out that JavaScript is really different with respect to a lot of other languages and that I must have done some horrible wrongs in my previous JavaScript ramblings. However, this was my only really positive experience with the book.

The first chapters of the book were still okay as they give a nice overview of the Ajax world. In addition they managed to tell me how to do requests from JavaScript directly (the XMLHttpRequest) and how to handle the responses. I did not know much about this. The later chapters work out some very specific things which may be interesting if you currently need to build those. Some frameworks are touched upon, but never described more in any detail.

My main complaint about book is that it contains lots of descriptions of what you will be able to read instead of just giving it to me directly. It takes a lot of text to get to the point and when it gets really interesting you're referred to somewhere else. Equally interesting is that the code examples are almost all completely lacking any comments which is compensated with tedious descriptions of that code.

In conclusion, this book may be for you if 1) you need a good overview of what Ajax is about (first chapters), or if 2) you are already a good JavaScript programmer, have plenty of time to read the book and then some more to the understand the frameworks you inevitably need to use (with which you may have started with in the first place).

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