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JavaScript Cookbook

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    Well-constructed with forward looks to HTML5

    I have enjoyed other cookbooks in the O'Reilly library of computer texts, so when I saw JavaScript Cookbook by Shelley Powers in the catalog, I jumped at it. The description mentioned that the book would cover HTML5 and ECMAScript 5, so I really wanted to learn the new capabilities of both. I did get to learn a lot, but I wonder if these new features are too new. Like other cookbooks in the O'Reilly library, this one is organized as a series of specific problems, with their solutions neatly presented and grouped into the major chapters. Each solution has a discussion to flesh out the details. The website has downloadable copies of the examples in the book, which I used to test out the various recipes. ECMAScript 5 is fairly new, and HTML5 is still under development, so I made sure I had the latest stable versions of the major browsers (Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari) to see how they would cope. The HTML5 features are very sparsely supported as of yet, so those portions of the book should be considered more of a sampling of things to come rather than a definitive set of solutions. They start out easily enough with recipes for handling JavaScript strings. However, the discussion of String objects and literals obviously implies that the reader is already somewhat familiar with Object terminology and functionality. That makes this book unsuitable for beginners. While much of the book is applicable to today's browsers, there is a lot of coverage of the new capabilities made available in the new HTML5 specifications. Unfortunately, most browsers either do not support, or only partially support these features, so the information is only useful as a "taste of things to come". As I step back and reflect on this book, I think that many topics are solutions that cannot be implemented because the typically available browsers don't support the new features yet. If a web page designer wants their site to be available to users now, they need to focus on the features that are well entrenched across the internet. Having so many solutions based on features and capabilities that are still being defined is only useful as academic exercises. I would have preferred that the JavaScript Cookbook be more useful for the state of the web right now. That is why I'm rating it only 3 out of 5.

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