Learning jQuery 1.3
By Michael Ross
This book review was published by Slashdot, 2010-01-11.
Written by Jonathan Chaffer and Karl Swedberg — two veteran Web developers based in Grand Rapids, Michigan — Learning jQuery 1.3 was published on 13 February 2009, under the ISBN 978-1847196705, by Packt Publishing, which kindly provided to me a copy of the book for review. There is a publisher's Web page for the book, where readers can order print or PDF versions of the book (or both, at a sizable discount); contact Packt Publishing with questions or feedback; read more information about the book, the authors, and the table of contents; and download a free sample chapter (the fourth one, titled "Effects") in PDF format. Readers who want to follow along with the authors' discussion, should note that all of the sample code used in the book can be downloaded from its support page. There is also a link for reading the reported errata, of which there are eleven, as of this writing. (The erratum for page 40 is incorrectly listed twice.)
With the seventh chapter, the authors transition from what they consider to be the tutorial portion of the book, and begin to demonstrate how the reader can utilize the earlier basics for improving Web page functionality — in this case, working with tables. The authors make good use of code snippets and screenshots to show how one can do table sorting, row striping, row highlighting, and other capabilities independent of — and in conjunction with — server-side equivalents. The subsequent chapter consists of a similar survey of jQuery goodness, but applied to forms — specifically: styling, client-side validation, auto-completion of search entry fields, and input masking (with an emphasis upon numbers). The sample HTML is a model of quality markup, except for the wrapping of checkbox input elements inside of label elements, which is noncanonical and can make it problematic to properly align all the checkboxes in a form vertically, for all browsers. Chapter 9, titled "Shufflers and Rotators", demonstrates how to create a rotator for RSS newsfeed headlines, and an image carousel featuring image enlargement with transition. Readers interested in testing out the sample code — and possibly even modifying it — should be aware that, for chapters 7 through 9, the sample code within the downloadable archive is not stored in chapter-named directories, but instead combined into an application, in the "bookstore" directory.
The last two chapters of the book are devoted to jQuery plug-ins — using those created by others, and developing one's own. In Chapter 10, to illustrate the high-level ideas, the authors focus on and recommend a number of specific plug-ins built for handling forms, advanced effects, widgets, tables, images, and charts, as well as some theming resources. In the subsequent chapter, the authors show how to develop plug-ins of varying complexity, including those that implement new global functions, implement new jQuery object methods, and extend the jQuery selector engine; the chapter wraps up with advice on how best to distribute newly-created plug-ins.
The following errata have yet to be listed on the book's support page: "Let[']s" (page 23), "page [is] loaded" (page 40), "if Normal was" (should read "if Normal were"; page 61), ", though" (should read "though,"; page 80), "slices with be" (page 283), and "though[,] there" (page 340). In the errata listed on the support page, the entry for parseFloat refers to page 74, but the error actually occurs once on page 69 and twice on pages 70, 71, and 79. In the six screenshots on pages 253 through 257, the shipping totals are incorrect. Nevertheless, the number of errata per page is far less than what is found in most computer books, especially those from Packt Publishing.
The generous amount of sample code should be quite helpful to the reader, because for most programmers, we learn best by example. However, there are many instances where a line of code is unnecessarily wrapped to a second line, even though there is plenty of room at the end of the first line to accommodate the portion of code forced down; pages 82 and 217 have glaring examples of this. The same premature wrapping is seen in some of the text, such as on pages 210 and 311.
The authors as a whole do an admirable job of explaining the central ideas. The explanations are generally clear, which is absolutely critical for a topic like jQuery that can be overwhelming to anyone unfamiliar with it — and not just as a result of the somewhat cryptic syntax (which admittedly is unavoidable), made worse by chaining and especially by the nesting of anonymous functions. Even a cursory glance through the book should make evident that the authors put a lot of effort into writing it, reflected not just in its substantial length, but also the number of examples they created for the book, and the functionality contained therein.
Copyright © 2009 Michael J. Ross. All rights reserved.
This book is available on Amazon