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Ajax For Dummies
By: Codewalkers
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    2006-05-21

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    Ajax For Dummies
    By: Steve Holzner
    Published by Wiley

    Do you ever feel stupid reaching for one of the Dummies line? I've had clients who have spied a Dummies book in my library and remarked, "Dummies Book? I thought you knew this stuff." What they miss is that in 10-20 pages, a Dummies book can cut to the core of the issue and give you the relevant information you need to succeed. Ajax For Dummies from Wiley is a one-stop means of getting a fast start to Ajax.

    By : Mike DeWolfe

    In "Getting started", the books gives you a run down on Ajax and why it's a lot more than a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. It devotes 10 pages to Ajax examples: games, login tools, chatting, auto complete—just the tip of the iceberg of what Ajax can accomplish.

    The core of Ajax is JavaScript. This book wastes no time getting newbies up to speed with how to use JavaScript (it is a Dummies book after all). Rather than dwell overlong, it leans towards how to plug Ajax concepts into JavaScript.

    Part Two (Programming in Ajax) delves into the deep end: how to use the XMLHttpRequest object; how to call in XML and remote HTML; and how to share client side data with the server side. This book builds a very strong foundation. It's not that hard to sink all the way into some complex stuff with the Google API, extracting material from the HEAD; and working with a queue of concurrent client side requests.

    Part Three: Ajax Frameworks gets into the ready libraries available. On the client side: "AjaxGold" and "Wild" are explored. Server side counterparts for PHP (Xajax, LibAjax and others) are discussed. This book leans on PHP and gives lip service to other frameworks (Dojo, Atlas, Ruby on Rails, etc.). While there being a lot of Java and ASP.NET books currently on the market, it was nice to see a PHPcentric title.

    Part Four: is titled "In-Depth Ajax Power." Really it's about getting XML, CSS and PHP to dance together. This material is good and while it could have been added to previous discussions, it's okay. This book gets you to wade into the subject matter as a whole without giving you too much on any segment.

    The last section is a glorified glossary: "The Part of Tens." "Ten Ajax Design Issues You Should Know About" gives you some quick tips to polish any Ajax script: how to provide visual cues, how to grant the user control, avoiding sluggish browser behaviors. All good stuff. "Ten Super-Useful Ajax Resources" covers links to Ajax resources online. I usually prefer that this material is solely online. Publishers will lean on their authors to support a book with a website for a time. By having lists of blogs and examples written into a book, you invite link rot and reduced relevance.

    Somehow a lot of books about coding try to get by without much code. This book is the opposite: a practical Ajax library (ajaxgold.js) is including along with A LOT of supporting code. It's available for re-use. I put this example library to use in a lot of cases and found it to be really handy and simple to use.

    There are books that are strong in theory. There are books that talk about the esoteric means of accomplishing really complex applications. This book has an emphasis of JavaScript on the client side and PHP on the server side. The goal is to get someone into generating Ajax code fast. In that respect, the author has succeeded.


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