Review: Bulletproof Ajax

Having previously declared my undying love for all things Jeremy Keith (that sounded straighter in my head, I swear),  now comes word of Jeremy’s call-to-action.

…Bulletproof Ajax is not a book for seasoned server-side developers. It’s for front-end coders who already know markup and CSS with perhaps a smattering of JavaScript. If that sounds like you, give the book a read and once you’re done, post a review…

Wilco, Galactica.

Bulletproof Ajax checks in at just under 200 pages. If you think that seems awfully small, you’ve probably hurt the books feelings and now owe it an apology (I’ll wait).

While the number of pages seems underwhelming,  the book covers everything it needs to, and adds whole chapters on progressive enhancement, accessibility and library pros-and-cons to boot.  The nine chapters offer a nice observational pacing, starting with a refresher course in basic javascript (strings, numbers, arrays, comparative logic, loops and functions). It quickly leads into the subject of Ajax: Why it’s called that, what it means, what it does, where it came from.

The first code examples begin exactly where they need to. Keith starts off by building the cornerstone of all Ajax applications: the cross-browser XMLHttpRequest. Here is where the genius of the book shines. Instead of delving into the origins of the need for object detection, Keith instead sums up what you need to know in short informative paragraphs, dispersed in between continuing code examples. This ensures a nice flow of information, without the need for in-depth explanations.

Keith covers the big three XHR methods: XML, JSON, and innerHTML via responseText. He also briefly illustrates where each method would be put to good use, though I would have preferred a little more discussion on that topic.

The chapters on progressive enhancement and accessibility cover the most important points of javascript coding today, and covers them well. He preaches unobtrusive javascript, and separation of function from content.

As far as target consumers go, I would recommend this book without question to web designers who dabble in javascript, and would like to take their abilities farther. This, along with Dom Scripting (read that first, you won’t be disappointed), are a perfect 1-2 punch for those interested in expanding their scripting knowledge.

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