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Ajax in Action by Dave Crane, Eric Pascarello, Darren James

Book Review Team
Bartender

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 926
<pre>Author/s : Dave Crane, Eric Pascarello, Darren James
Publisher : Manning
Category : Web design, HTML and JavaScript
Review by : Valentin Crettaz
Rating : 9 horseshoes
</pre>
Over the past months, the Ajax commando has been actively pursuing its revolution on the web petitioning for a richer and more standardized interaction model. Everyday, the commando manages to substantially increase its headcount by enrolling a growing number of frustrated developers who were promised to an execrable future.

With "Ajax in Action" out of press, the commando will now be able to drastically accelerate its evangelization process. The word is spreading that this book is a tremendously useful field guide specially written for developers in the trenches waiting for the killer solution that will help them build cutting-edge web applications of unprecedented quality. After showing how to switch from traditional to Ajax web development, the authors present the core techniques underlying Ajax as well as a couple design patterns and how these fit into the Ajax development model. Furthermore, the book also contains great best practices that can considerably enhance the user experience and that teach you how to design Ajax applications with security and performance in mind. The second part of the book is fully dedicated to presenting five hardcore examples (live search, etc.) whose main goal is to provide developers with ready-to-use off-the-shelf Ajax components that can be seamlessly integrated into any web application.

Whether you are frustrated by low tech web development or you are willing to discover how the potential of Ajax is greater than the sum of its parts, swallow this 600 pages bible and join the commando now.


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Book Review Team
Bartender

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 926
<pre>
Review by : Ernest J. Friedman-Hill
Rating : 9 horseshoes
</pre>
Ajax is a Web programming technique for developing rich, interactive interfaces using only JavaScript, HTML and CSS on the desktop. It's changing the landscape of the Web, and this book will help you gear up to be part of the revolution. Renaissance men David Crane and Eric Pascarello show you how to weave together the pieces that make up an Ajax application: JavaScript, server scripts, HTML, CSS, and XML. They teach you the tools and techniques you'll need to develop industrial-strength applications using JavaScript.

This is really two books in one: first, it's a look at the Ajax technologies and prescriptions for their effective use. There are detailed discussions of relevant design patterns and of strategies for designing usable and secure applications. There are substantial discussions of a number of Ajax frameworks, libraries, and development tools, as well as developer features of Web browsers that you've probably never learned about but can't live without.

The second half of the book is a cookbook, with detailed blueprints for concocting your own versions of several Ajax showcases: dynamic double combo boxes, typeahead select boxes, and Web portals with selectable, draggable portlets. There are even recipes for assembling standalone Ajax applications that use existing third-party Web services as a back-end. The cookbook builds on the earlier parts of the book by applying the design patterns and refactoring techniques therein described.

If you're serious about helping to revolutionize the Web, you need this book.


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Book Review Team
Bartender

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 926
<pre>Review by : John Wetherbie
Rating : 8 horseshoes
</pre>
Ajax In Action is a code-driven introduction to the collection of technologies and techniques that are known as Ajax. The book has many code examples and the last five chapters take you through the development of some Ajax applications including combo boxes, type-ahead help, and adding Ajax to a portal site.

The authors emphasize that developers and architects need to have a different mindset when developing applications that use Ajax versus traditional web applications. An asynchronous (the first A in Ajax) web application will act differently than a traditional web application and needs to be thought about and designed differently. There will also be more JavaScript code to manage and the authors emphasize good coding and code management techniques.

I enjoyed the chapter on performance and the fact that it focused both on speed and memory use. The appendices cover Ajax tools for your toolkit, an excellent JavaScript overview, and Ajax-related frameworks and libraries. The appendices are really good but I appreciate that their information is located such that it does not break the flow of the book.

This book is a very good overview Ajax and its technologies. It assumes you are reasonably familiar with JavaScript, CSS, DOM, and how web applications work. My one complaint is the feeling that the discussion of patterns and refactoring for a developer not familiar with these tools was a little light and could have been beefed up a bit.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.


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Book Review Team
Bartender

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 926
<pre>Review by : Jeanne Boyarsky
Rating : 10 horseshoes
</pre>
"Ajax in Action" is not only an excellent book on Ajax, but the best JavaScript book I have ever read. The authors note early on that Ajax is a process, not a technology. This theme permeates the book. There is an emphasis on requirements, design, implementation, testing and maintenance. So the book shows how to do a real project, not just how to code.

Keeping with the real project theme, there is information throughout on refactoring and design patterns. The authors present low level coding idioms as well. All this creates a language for coding Ajax applications. The second half of the book walks you through the entire development process for five sample applications.

The book targets a wide audience range, from enterprise developers to self-taught scripters. Basic concepts are explained concisely for newcomers and experienced developers may skim certain sections. However these sections are a very small part of the 600+ page book.

An appendix covers an introduction to JavaScript. While you would want to supplement it with materials from the web, it clearly covers the advanced topics that are hard to find elsewhere. There are also introductions and tips on CSS and DOM. In short, I learned a ton about non-Ajax development and page manipulations too.

And the book even has a screenshot of JavaRanch! I was expecting a good book when I saw Bear and Ernest's comments on the back. But it still managed to exceed my expectations!


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AbhiRam Kalyan
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 31, 2005
Posts: 25
Hi,
What this covers most?
Is Ajax technology is same for java ,.net and the remaining server side languages.


Sasikanth
Lasse Koskela
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 11962
    
    5
Sasi, I'd suggest asking questions like "what's Ajax" in our HTML and JavaScript forum. This forum is only meant for discussing the reviews or the reviewed books themselves.


Author of Test Driven (2007) and Effective Unit Testing (2013) [Blog] [HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch]
Eric Pascarello
author
Rancher

Joined: Nov 08, 2001
Posts: 15376
    
    6
Originally posted by Sasi Kanth:
Hi,
What this covers most?
Is Ajax technology is same for java ,.net and the remaining server side languages.


Ajax does not matter what the server side code is. That is one reason why it is so popular since you have everyone from ColdFusion, Java, C#, VB.NET, and PHP guys all using this methodolgy. Ajax is nothing more than a term for a way we transfer data to the server utilizing JavaScript.

When you look at the projects in this book, you will see that the server side code is not very involved (we designed it this way), it performs basic actions that anyone from any language can follow. A lot of times we are returning a dynamic xml file or a simple string. The explainations are easy to follow and it will give you a great background on how to implement Ajax. Over on the sandbox on manning for the book ( http://www.manning-sandbox.com/forum.jspa?forumID=179 ), I see people posting responses saying that one person says the double combo running in php and another has it in Java, and another has it in cold fusion. Just that alone makes me see the power that Ajax has that the same client side code does not care what is behind the brains of the data gathering.

Plus another bonus with getting the book is you have one of the authors (ME) here on the JavaRanch sitting in the HTML and JavaScript forum willing to help. Plus if you click on that link above to Manning's site, you can ask questions to bothh Dave and I.

Ajax seems scary to a lot of people, but Dave and I put a lot of time in the book to eliminate this fear and make it as easy as possible to get an Ajax component running on your web site.

I also just wrote an article for the Ranch for this month's January Newsletter. You can check it out here: http://www.javaranch.com/journal/200601/Journal200601bookSearch.jsp?isbn=a2 I would say goto the books website on mannings page right here: http://www.manning.com/books/crane/chapters and look at the two sample chapters posted. The article covers just the basics, if you want to know more pick up the book and you will never look at web applications the same way again!

Eric
 
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