Simply JavaScript – Sitepoint Book Review

http://www.sitepoint.com/books/javascript1/

As an ardent reader of SitePoint posts (and someone having a good bit of difficulty wrapping my head around Object-Oriented JavaScript (OOP), and usually finding SitePoint to be a great, easy-to-understand site for “getting” new concepts), I was extremely excited while awaiting delivery of this book.

While the book certainly does explain concepts well and does cover the basics of JavaScript (JS)well, I was a little disappointed to see the entire catalog of examples depend on SitePoint’s JS library, “Core”…  For example, every function that they write includes a method “init” and is initialized using “Core:start(functionname)”.  I would much rather have seen the book explain to people how to do things, rather than how to avoid doing things

To me this is akin to learning to ride a bike (but your father never taking the training wheels off!).  In the shop where I work, thus far at least, we have chosen to not use any JS libraries; what happens when a reader of this book walks into such a shop and wants to download core.js to the web server?  They are likely going to be asked what the heck they are doing…

I believe an old adage applies here: “you have to learn the rules before you can break the rules”…  Ok, so using a library is NOT breaking the rules, but a developer really should learn how to initialize functions on their own before they start using a library to do the work for them.

Another chapter that I was really looking forward to was the section on debugging, including the brilliant Firefox (FF) add-on, Firebug.  Now, for the longest time I simply could not find the use of Firebug (go ahead, finish gasping for air, I’ll wait…)…

Better?  Good.

My problem was that the add-on is so robust, that I had trouble figuring out exactly what to do with it.  I already had the equally-brilliant Web Developer Toolbar, which did a really fantastic job of dealing with my CSS issues (among numerous other incredibly powerful features), so I just didn’t see the need for Firebug (plus, I wasn’t exactly writing scripts that were all that difficult to debug the “old-fashioned way”…).

By the time I ordered and received this book, I was much more accepting of Firebug, using it daily for Stepping Into and Over all kinds of things in JS, but I was still certainly no expert on the add-on, so, I was really looking forward to an entire chapter on Firebug!  I was a little disappointed to fins them really only cover the viewing abilities of the Console and how to set and walk through Breakpoints…  I realize this is a beginners JS book, but I would argue that they are the ones that will need this tool (and need to understand it) the most.

At any rate, I did enjoy the book.  I have always loved the way both Kevin and Cameron write, and what they wrote certainly was easy to understand and follow (though I am still looking for the perfect-for-me OOP description/walk-through).  I am just not completely convinced that this is a great beginner-level JS book, and do not feel it is quite right for the intermediate-level either; it seems somewhere in between to me…

That’s what I think, anyhow…

Happy reading,
Atg

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