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Understanding Ajax

© August 2006 Anthony Lawrence


I enjoyed this much more than the other other Ajax book I reviewed recently. No, that's not quite right: the other book is more amusing and fun to read, but I learned more here.

For one thing, there are lots of examples: complete examples that you can try out. There's nothing like seeing something actually work to clear the confusion. I still get a little befuddled because of not being experienced with Javascript, but I was staying above water more here.

I really appreciated that Joshua was honest about the difficulties and complexity of Javascript and that he took the trouble to closely examine the procedural and even psychological differences when programming web pages in an Ajax model. He also made me feel better by explaining that most of the reasons I've shunned Javascript (horrible cross-browser issues and bugs) have gone away over the years.

Finally, "Understanding Ajax" helped me understand where Ajax can be useful to me. I really hadn't seen the 10,000 foot view - for example, I formerly didn't see where I could make any application of it at this website, but now I see that it actually could be quite useful and could solve some nagging little issues I've accepted as unavoidable - with Ajax, I could fix some of those problems..

Debugging is of course also different, and Joshua covers all that. This really is a comprehensive guide to understanding and deploying Ajax web pages. I feel much more confident now - I still have a ways to go, but the goal is now in sight.

Ajax is still more than a bit annoying - there are cross browser issues and unfortunately there are still browsers that cannot employ it at all. As time goes by and those irritating ancient programs become less likely, this sort of programming will get easier too. The manuscript I reviewed here was draft (scheduled for publication late August 2006), but I'm looking forward to the completed book.

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