The first thing I should say is that this is a thoroughly enjoyable book. Ed Woychowsky is fun to read, and I could almost recommend this to you even if you have no interest in Ajax.
If you are scratching your head and asking "What's Ajax?", well, it's the new (really not so new) way of doing interactive web pages. It's how Google does Gmail, and more and more it's how a lot of web pages handle the need for smooth interaction with the public.
Ajax is both "easy" and "hard". If you have a background in the underlying tools, Ajax is not all that difficult. Without that background, it can be hellishly confusing. Ed Woychowsky tries to provide the guidance to bring you up to speed.
I'm not sure he entirely succeeds. I really, really like the effort, and I don't know how he could do any better without turning it into a massive tutorial that would be of no use to anyone who does already have the background. That's always the problem with tech subjects that have prerequisites: do you assume that knowledge, try to give a quick overview, or write half another book explaining it? I think Ed made good compromises in those areas, but no doubt there will be readers who quickly become bewildered and others who get bored (though Ed's writing has enough fun and sparkle in it that boredom really shouldn't happen).
Me? I fell in the mildly confused category. I have enough background to follow along, but don't do enough of this kind of thing not to get lost and have to think hard. Thinking hard can be enjoyable, but it's also tiring.
If you are ready for Ajax but not quite there yet, this is a good book to take you the rest of the way. Readers of this site will probably be disappointed that Ed has a Windows slant (though he does use Firefox) but he doesn't ignore Mac and Linux outright.
If you read this far, you probably have more than a passing interest in dynamic web page development. If so, you are going to want this book even if you aren't quite ready for it yet. It's due to be released sometime in August 2006, but you can pre-order at Amazon if you are reading this before then.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-04-30 Anthony Lawrence
The successful construction of all machinery depends on the perfection of the tools employed; and whoever is a master in the arts of tool-making possesses the key to the construction of all machines... The contrivance and construction of tools must therefore ever stand at the head of the industrial arts. (Charles Babbage)