Orange is my favorite color

I’m a jQuery fan but not a jQuery expert so when Duane Moraes from Packt Publishing offered me copies of their new jQuery titles I was excited. I’m usually hesitant to invest in books for rapidly evolving technologies; I think it’s hard for the publisher to capture information and distribute it quickly enough to not be stale or outdated. But Packt Publishing has books on a wide variety of emerging open source software packages. They even have a book on Joomla 1.5 beta 1! It seems they’ve figured out a system that makes frequent small runs of printing profitable. This is great for authors who might not otherwise write a niche book and it’s great for readers because we’re getting fresher content that we can read when we’re away from a keyboard. Now where’s the audio book version? :)

The books

The two books are “Learning jQuery : Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques” and the “jQuery Reference Guide“, both by Karl Swedberg and Jonathan Chaffer.

I’m relatively new to jQuery. I had previously committed to Dojo before the constant API changes soured me and Dan Switzer recommended jQuery to me as an alternative. I was looking for a handful of common things like table sorting, ajax functionality, etc. jQuery weighed in small, purposeful and very actively developed. Like Ben Nadel described, “it just felt right”.

Why I like them

Enter these two titles from Packt. I love reference guides because of my development style. I tend to get right in and start hacking and debugging and reference guides give me the straight dirt without elaborate samples and convoluted scenarios. Once you’ve done some programming, languages primarily differ by syntax and a reference guide makes getting up to speed easy.

But when it comes to Javascript for me, there are a lot of details needed to effectively use the language and library and this book has it in detail. I didn’t read it from cover to cover but rather I skipped around picking up things that were of immediate interest to me as I was sprinkling jQuery around my existing application. While I do love the reference guide, having the more complex examples made implementation easier and eliminated endless Google searches. I have been steadily replacing dozens of lines of older code with one to five lines of chained jQuery that just plain works.

I will say I cheated when it came to the Table chapter because I use Christian Bach’s TableSorter so I skipped a lot of the chapter. I do, however, frequently modify tables in my application for show/hide and editing and the chapter helped me replace a LOT of (poorly written, non-cross-browser and non-future-compatible custom) code.

That’s what I’m digging about these books… a reference guide is a reference guide but I’ve been able to use the Learning jQuery book like a reference guide for getting up to speed on the aspects of jQuery that are most immediately pressing. I’m a busy guy so the approachability of a book makes a big difference in how I use (or don’t use) it. Take for example the Dietel and Dietel Java book on my bookshelf… the spine of the book faded before I got through the first chapter. Bah humbug Java book!

So, who is it good for?

If you’re already using jQuery or getting started with it, both of these books would be a great addition to your desk. You might be able to get by without the reference guide by using the online docs but you’d be well-served by the Learning guide.

If you’re looking for a javascript library to “call home”, I think the support level of jQuery gives it a big leg up over libraries like Dojo and Prototype. While functionality-wise there may be little differences (either today or in the future), the stability, development cycle and community around jQuery is very strong. These books are a testament to that and are key reasons why I’ve decided to standardize my application on jQuery.


  1. AJAX coding school » Blog Archive » AJAX Examples [2007-12-26 05:09:26] said:

    on December 25, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    [...] Reading for Programmers: jQuery Books By brian I was looking for a handful of common things like table sorting, ajax functionality, etc. jQuery weighed in small, purposeful and very actively developed. Like Ben Nadel described, “it just felt right”. … Orange is my favorite color – [...]

  2. Rey Bango said:

    on December 26, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Glad you liked the books Brian. Karl and Jonathan put a ton of effort into those two books and they’re both available via the mailing list. There’s also a pretty nice sized, and growing, CF-community using jQuery for their JS/DOM/Ajax work so you’re sure to get plenty of support. Buzz me if you ever have questions or join us on the mailing list.

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