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Pro JavaScript RIA Techniques: Best Practices, Performance and Presentation

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  • Posted February 5, 2010

    A Thorough Overview of JavaScript RIA Techniques

    Rich Internet Applications are often the basis for Web 2.0 sites, where increased functionality comes at the price of more extensive development and coding efforts. Here's an excellent overview from a JavaScript perspective that will help anyone and everyone who wants to master this, from beginners to seasoned professionals.

    The author has distilled his expertise and experience in successfully delivering JavaScript-based Rich Internet Applications, in 402 pages plus index, organized as 12 chapters in three parts. While the focus is on JavaScript, the scope of the book also encompasses the other technologies required to make RIAs useful. The book has a good mix of background information with specific techniques the reader can put to immediate use.

    The first part, chapters one and two, deals with best practices proper, to ease both initial development and subsequent maintenance. These deal with such things as naming conventions, folder structures, coding styles and documentation support, with specific recommendations on tools that aid these activities. The importance of this project organization is emphasized several times throughout the book. So, too are reminders the business side will certainly welcome, while the designers and developers all too often overlook: Build to accomplish the task at hand, as simply as possible, nothing more and nothing less.

    This first part also outlines the importance of maintaining separation of the several elements that together make up RIAs: Content in html, presentation in Cascading Style Sheets, and functionality in JavaScript, which, not surprisingly, is the largest chapter in the book. The importance of JavaScript frameworks is also covered, and the necessity to review each of them for a given task as one size fits all really doesn't.

    The second part, chapters three through five, deals with performance or the functionality integrated with JavaScript. As the author points out, browsers each have their own interpretations of implementing standards, with no two browsers acting identically for the same source material. Each browser has its own development and debug tools, some more effective then others, which are reviewed in a concise manner. Very helpful is the overview of browser functionality, from both the design goals and actual operational viewpoints. There are some interesting tips and tricks that are described, with the ones for Microsoft's IE particularly helpful in reducing the code required to detect the differences and respond specifically and intelligently, so much so that these by themselves may be well worth the price of the book.

    The third and last part, chapters six through twelve, deal with presentation, multimedia, UI and accessibility issues, as well as interactivity and several third party components that extend RIA possibilities. It also looks at advanced subjects based on the next versions of the several open standards currently undergoing revision.

    Finally, the book has a deep and well organized index that makes for a very good desk reference.

    Like all Apress books, the source code used in each chapter can be downloaded for further study, or an implementation model. The source consists of JavaScript and html files, along with Cascading Style Sheets and Visual C#, that are needed to illustrate an example or demonstrate a technique or approach.

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