24 July 2008

JavaScript: The Missing Manual (featuring jQuery)

I know what you’re thinking. “Three posts in one week Ruscoe? You neglect your blog for all this time, managing to squeeze out a maximum of one post per month and now all of a sudden you’ve got blogorrhea? What gives!?!”

Well – to answer your question – “what gives” is that I’m not as busy as I have been so far this year. I’ve pretty much finished going to the gigs (actually, there are a couple more coming up this year), I’ve partied like it’s 1985, I’ve moved house, and I’ve reviewed two books for O’Reilly’s Missing Manual series, which is what this post is about...

Google Apps: The Missing ManualGoogle Apps: The Missing Manual was finally released on 27th May 2008. It’s a book aimed at people who want to get the most out of Google’s online applications, such as Google Docs, Gmail, Google Talk, Calendar, iGoogle, Page Creator, Google Apps and Google Sites.

Reviewing a book like this, which covers Google’s ever-changing online services, meant that I had to keep right up-to-speed with all the features as they were being released. Even after finishing each chapter, I kept emailing the editor with updates when Google changed the Google Docs toolbar and Google Speadsheets kept adding new features! Of course, as soon as the book was released it was inevitable that some parts of it would already be out-dated. That obviously doesn’t mean the book was immediately worthless though. Only a few parts now contain minor errors, and it’s mainly omissions as new features have been added rather than outright inaccuracies. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing this book and am pleased that all my (what many people probably see as being useless) knowledge about Google could finally be put to good use!

You can read a bit more about it on Google Blogoscoped. And while you’re there, check out Philipp’s book, Google Apps Hacks.

JavaScript: The Missing ManualJavaScript: The Missing Manual was released yesterday and I just got my copy today. After reviewing the Google Apps book, I was approached to do this one. I figured that I would probably know everything the book had to offer but how wrong I was! Not only does it cover standard old-fashioned JavaScript techniques, it also covers the jQuery JavaScript library in quite a lot of detail.

For anyone who’s only ever used raw JavaScript, jQuery is like a programming language from the web of the future. It’s everything that JavaScript should have been. It really does make pretty much everything so much easier to implement. Whether you want to create a simple image rollover (which is one of the first pieces of JavaScript I wrote or, more accurately, copied and pasted!) or a highly dynamic AJAX website, this book helps to explain how you can go about achieving it quickly and easily using JavaScript and jQuery.

So if you think you’re a JavaScript guru but you’ve never bothered looking into jQuery, this book is a great place to start and will help to completely change how you think about developing dynamic websites!

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