Thursday, January 28, 2010

Learning JQuery 1.3

This is a must for the serious web designer. I'm not a web designer myself but I know a bit of server side programming in ASP.NET so my purpose in reading this book is to create my own interactive websites and pretty much know the bigger picture in web development. I also like reusable jQuery plug-ins that are sleek and fancy. I also like how it promotes progressive enhancement and graceful degradation which basically is an unobtrusive client script manipulating the DOM. In layman's terms, it's maintainable and decoupled.

I actually don't know Javascript in detail, however I do know a bit of general programming and object oriented concepts. So esoteric language features like closures discussed in the book maybe a little bit advanced for the novice reader. Closures is however explained very well in the appendix. You do need to know CSS and HTML and some server side programming. You shouldn't be reading this if you don't because the whole point of jQuery is to manipulate the DOM in the HTML document by changing the style-sheets dynamically on the client. The server-side example codes that come with the book is written in PHP. So I had to be creative in converting them to ASP.NET which to me is a good exercise for myself.

The book is organized in 2 parts. The first part from chapters 1 to 6 is the tutorials. It covers the basic feature of the library and has a step by step instruction which you need to follow. These are pre-requisites of the library features including selectors, events, effects, Ajax and DOM manipulation. The second part from chapters 7 onwards is the "how-to" section. It basically creates an online bookstore using the library features you've learned from the first part. The online bookstore covers table manipulation including sorting, row highlighting, filtering, collapsing, pagination, forms validation, shufflers, rotators and image carousel. The book is simply loaded with a lot of reusable code.

In terms of writing style or educational method, the way the authors explain the step by step tutorials and how-to have a thorough presentation of the library features. However, sometimes it distract the overall picture of problem solving at hand. This by no means is a criticism, however I personally do not analyse programming problems this way. The steps evolve so much that you may not see step 1 or 2 in the final code in step 10. Steps 1 or 2 are just library features that the authors are presenting to you, and thoroughly explains the better alternative solution that you need refactoring.

In a way you can read how the authors reason hence you need to follow each step at a time otherwise you might get lost because I found myself reading back the previous pages as I thought they were important but actually they're not. This is merely presentation of solutions and is actually a comprehensive discussion. In this sense you can tell that the how-to exercises are well thought of and thorough albeit distracting at times.

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