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Keywords: Ajax, JavaScript, web applications, XML

Title: Ajax For Web Application Developers

Author: Kris Hadlock

Publisher: SAMS Publishing

ISBN: 0672329123

Media: Book

Level: Introductory Ajax, but JavaScript and/or XML knowledge an advantage

Verdict: Good for the web developer wanting to move to Ajax, not so good for the beginner


Whereas most introductory books on Ajax start with the basics - this is a web page, this is JavaScript, this is XML etc - Kris Hadlock's book 'Ajax For Web Application Developers', makes certain assumptions of competence. It's not really a book aimed at the complete beginner, but instead is aimed more towards the existing web developer who wants to add some Ajax to his or her repertoire. Obviously if the basics of HTML and XML are beyond you, and you have no idea of what JavaScript is then this isn't the book for you (in that case take a look at Head Rush Ajax). On the other hand if you do know the basics and don't fancy wading through pages of explanation of how a simple web page is put together then this might be a better place to look.

The book has six sections, starting with a fast intro to what makes Ajax tick and finishing with a section on security and best practices, via design patterns, building a JavaScript Ajax engine and a section on reusable components. That's actually a fair chunk of material for a relatively slim book (only 256 pages of text). Partly this is because there's very little padding in the text, and partly it's because the tone is fairly terse (this is a good thing on the most part).

In terms of the core material - how Ajax works and how to build a set of components that you can deploy across multiple applications - the writing is concise and to the point. While you don't have to be a guru to make sense of it all, knowledge of object oriented programming is definitely a bonus. By the same token any existing knowledge you have of XML and the document object model (DOM) will also help. For those who don't have that background you'll have to work harder to make sense of what goes on at times.

The emphasis on using design patterns and best practices really sets the book apart from many others on Ajax. There's far less emphasis here on gee-whizzery than on the kind of solid development practices that makes for well-engineered and scalable code. The server side of the Ajax equation is not neglected, and there's some good material on the database end of things. For the most part it's assumed that you've got PHP running on the server and that's what you'll be talking to the database via. In addition to XML, there's also coverage of JSON as the principal alternative mechanism for interacting with the backend.

To conclude then, this is a good book for those who've already done some web application developer, it's a less choice for the absolute beginner.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2007. Published June 4 2007