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Book Review:

The JavaScript Anthology

JavaScript Anthology Cover

Sample Chapters
588 pages
James Edwards & Cameron Adams

I've Always Struggled with JavaScript

I must have half a dozen JavaScript books sitting on my shelves... and lying around my office... and strewn around the house. OK, maybe it's more like a dozen, if you also include the ones I eventually tossed out.

Why so many JavaScript books? None of them gave me what I needed. None of them had made me a confident and capable JavaScript programmer.

Not to lay the blame entirely at their feet, it also might have had a lot to do with the fact I didn't need to use JavaScript that often. You know the old adage: Use it or lose it.

But all that changed recently.

I accepted a JavaScript/CSS assignment. In fact, it was two assignments. The first was a menu page. The menu items were to appear when the heading was clicked. Moreover, there were three tabs, each with its own set of menu items. And it all had to be on one page; no cheating and running to the server to load other pages.

The second was a catalog page: the main product was at the top, with a series of smaller products below. As the surfer moused over the smaller items, a panel was to appear containing additional specifications for the given product.

As I say, I accepted the assignments, and I was confident I could make them happen. I'd recently received The JavaScript Anthology, from Sitepoint, and although I hadn't gotten much more than a quarter of the way through the book, its cookbook-style organization insured I'd find the techniques I needed to get the job done.

I got the first page finished in three and a half hours. It was a work of art. I got the second page done in about the same time, even though it was much more complicated.

Now that I have a new secret weapon, I expect I'll be using JavaScript much more frequently. In fact, I'm starting to see opportunities to use it all the time. Funny how that works.


The book's website is very complete, so I don't need to go into a lot of detail about the contents here. I will, however, share the major sections with you:

  1. Getting Started with JavaScript
  2. Working with Numbers
  3. Working with Strings
  4. Working with Arrays
  5. Navigating the Document Object Model
  6. Processing and Validating Forms
  7. Working with Windows and Frames
  8. Working with Cookies
  9. Working with Dates and Times
  10. Working with Images
  11. Detecting Browser Differences
  12. Using JavaScript with CSS
  13. Basic Dynamic HTML
  14. Time and Motion
  15. DHTML Menus and Navigation
  16. JavaScript and Accessibility
  17. Using JavaScript with Flash
  18. Building Web Applications with JavaScript
  19. Object Orientation in JavaScript
  20. Keeping Up the Pace

The advantage this book has over all the others is the tremendous job the authors have done in organizing the topics into logical sections, and then breaking those sections down into individual tasks you may need. It makes finding the technique you need a snap.

Then, within each technique, they start off with a description of the challenge or task they're trying to accomplish, followed by a Solution, and finally, a Discussion. This template proved to be extremely efficient in presenting all the information I needed to make effective use of the technique in my own work.

Cross-Browser Incompatibilities

What would JavaScript be without cross-browser complications? Every technique addresses the issue of cross-browser compatibility, and includes code, where necessary, to accommodate users with more capricious browsers.

All in all, a terrific addition to the collection. In fact, I'll probably be tossing out a few more JavaScript titles in the very near future (part of the office rationalization project sponsored by my wife).

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Created 2006 05 02; last modified 2006-05-03 10:01 .
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