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Author Topic: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...  (Read 5998 times)

barney

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In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« on: June 29, 2010, 07:57:21 PM »
Folk,

Seeking recommendations for one or more books on JavaScript.  Searches here have turned up a plethora of items, but none that I've perused seem to fit requirements.

A friend of mine, reasonably conversant with HTML/PHP/MySQL has decided she just has to learn JS.  She's asked me for book recommendations, but I simply don't have any.  She's not a hardcore web developer, but does well with most of what she attempts to do.

Looking, prolly, for two (2) types of books:  one would be a reasonable tutorial/instruction manual, the other would be a cookbook kind of manual.  I simply do not know enough about JS to make recommendations.  (Maybe I should get copies of whatever might be recommended?)

She's competent with HTML, perhaps a bit less so with PHP (but progressing rapidly).  Probably a mid-level (?) book on JavaScript - methodology, syntax, and the like - would be appropriate.  She also wants something similar to PHP:  Developer's Cookbook , of which she is very fond (as was meself, several years agone).

Any suggestions?

Addendum:  I've looked at O'Reilly, but simply cannot judge from the titles/descriptions.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 08:30:15 PM by barney »

Deozaan

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2010, 10:31:50 PM »
I recommend the 5-part video series from Douglas Crockford. (Scroll down a little.)

If she likes the video, she may like his book: JavaScript: The Good Parts (note the link gives a "referral" bonus to the author (link taken from his site)) wherein Crockford teaches only the good parts of JavaScript and ignores the bad/dangerous parts.

Though I have to admit, even after watching the videos and reading the part about functions in the book, I'm still trying to wrap my brain around JavaScript's first class functions and closure.

How can an inner function inside its outer function still know the values of variables that should be erased from memory because the outer function has already returned?

:stars: :stars: :stars: :stars: :stars: :stars: :stars:

« Last Edit: June 29, 2010, 10:33:45 PM by Deozaan »

mouser

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2010, 10:34:08 PM »
amazon.com is a great source of reviews and ratings on books.

MilesAhead

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2010, 11:03:47 PM »
If the person has broadband you can find the function definitions online and also help forums where you can as "how can I do this in JS?" ...  you might suggest messing around a bit before buying a book.  What looks really good because it starts bare bones might seem nearly useless once you've gotten the basic idea.

Kind of like those super basic computer books that show you how to open the menu in the program and what to click on, with all screen shots, but never get into any concepts.  Fine for 10 minutes .. better to rent rather than buy.

barney

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2010, 11:31:13 PM »
Personal distaste for videos aside, that'll be forwarded to her - if memory serves, she's partial to multimedia training, although I cannot see the why of it.

I'm kinda in the same boat.  JS requires more functions to function than my brain can seem to hold  ;D.

Mentioned O'Reilly - that includes Fatbrain (didn't realize they were now Barnes & Noble), B&N, Amazon.  Problem with the reviews:  no way to assess validity, veracity, or reviewer's knowledge level.  In light of that, I currently have two (2) Linux networking volumes and one (1) Linux cookbook on my desktop, purchased upon the strength of [Amazon] reviews.  One of the networking books is simplistic, the other is over my head - no formal IT training - and the cookbook ... isn't.  However, each of the three (3) had glowing reviews.  (They're going to a local computer club in the morning - tonight if the guy I called shows up.)

That's why I queried here:  if a particular tome is esoteric, it will be so noted; if it is too simplistic, same thing; mostly, however, I'll be getting reviews and suggestions from known entities whose opinions can be respected, folk I trust not to lead me astray in an area where my own knowledge is dismal.

After all, that's a significant part of DC :Thmbsup:.

Deozaan

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2010, 12:28:07 AM »
I suppose I should make it clear that Douglas Crockford's videos don't really teach JavaScript. The videos explain a lot of the history of programming (really interesting stuff!) and go over the good parts of ECMAScript (JavaScript's official name). He gives some examples of how to do some very powerful stuff, but like I said, it was a bit above my level of understanding.

But he definitely knows his stuff. I've started reading his book JavaScript: The Good Parts and it seems to assume a knowledge of programming in general. One thing that bothers me (which is why I think I'm still having trouble figuring out first class functions and closure) is that he gives examples on how to create functions inside functions but then he doesn't really go into detail in how to use them. So I'm having a hard time abstracting the information from his examples to be able to apply it to my own uses.

I'm only on Chapter 4 though, so I can't make any final conclusions on the book yet.

Crockford's basic premise is that JavaScript was thrown together in about 2 weeks, and in that rush it did a lot of things poorly, but it also did quite a few things really, really well. He says that you should just ignore and never even learn the bad parts of ECMAScript (when they can be avoided) and just focus on the good parts, which are just as good, if not superior, to just about any other language, in most cases.

Or at least that's my understanding of his position.


Deozaan

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2010, 12:32:12 AM »
If the person has broadband you can find the function definitions online and also help forums where you can as "how can I do this in JS?"

Along these same lines, I've been finding this site pretty useful:

http://www.w3schools.com/jsref/

But I have a background with ActionScript, which is based on ECMAScript, so I'm already somewhat familiar with a lot of JavaScript basics. The good thing about that site is I can do a search for what I'm trying to accomplish (or need to know how to use) and it will show results for JS, HTML, and CSS (and more). So sometimes I'll be looking for how to do something in JavaScript, when it's really something that should be done with CSS (and jQuery) so the results help me know what to do.


barney

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2010, 01:34:28 AM »
@MilesAhead
'Fraid most any online stuff is out.  Diana has dial-up, somewhere 'twixt 24K & 36K, not enough for any practical online lessonry.  We set her laptop up with Apache/PHP/MySQL so she could do her Web stuff, then she comes here - with insanely jealous husband - to do uploads & such.  If 'twere something I could download, burn to a CD, it'd prolly help, but not quite the same thing as having a book where you can make notes in the margin, highlight significant passages, and the like.  It's kinda hard to bookmark the pages on a CD so you can take up where last you stopped <chortle />.
Agree about the books ... that's why this topic  ;).

@Deozaan
Problem with Crockford is his decisions as to what is good and what is bad .  Yes he does seem to approach the subject from a programmer's point of view - not necessarily the best approach for teaching someone w/o that training.  His good seems more along the line(s) of of a C/C++ programmer's thinking, not necessarily the same as a Web designer's thinking.

He definitely makes for an interesting read, but don't think I'd wish him on a relative novice in the field :).
(Once I saw part of the first video, I recalled him/his thinking.)



As mentioned, Diana is a fairly sharp cookie, not too many crumbles, but a programming maven she ain't, ya know?

Perhaps more to the point, while she seems to like video training, I've seen some of her HTML and PHP books:  kinda hard to read a page w/o being distracted by the margin notes and multi-color highlighting.

She learned PHP/MySQL from PHP: Developer's Cookbook and Web Database Applications with PHP & MySQL , as well as the PHP docs she downloaded while here, so I'm looking for something on an equivalent level for JavaScript for her.

mouser

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2010, 06:06:02 AM »
I can recommend as a good advanced/reference book:
http://www.amazon.co...anagan/dp/0596101996

And I am a huge fan of the Cookbook series as a way of finding example code:
http://www.amazon.co...oodman/dp/0596514085
http://www.amazon.co...helley/dp/0596806132

But those are probably not the best books for actually LEARNING javascript from a non-programmer perspective.

Some beginner books that have high ratings on amazon:
http://www.amazon.co...ollock/dp/0072131403
http://www.amazon.co...-Keogh/dp/007226134X

steeladept

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2010, 11:44:59 AM »
For me, I LOVE the site HTMLdog for HTML and CSS.  The tutorials are short, sweet, but very useful and versatile. Another advantage is it lists all the commands (a very short set to be sure, compared to most languages) making it very useful regardless of how much you know of it already. I am looking for something like this for other languages. Anyone know of any - particularly for the tutorials?

I have gone through many tutorials and it always seems they jump from Hello World! to building a database with nothing in-between.  Then they always seem to jump to embedding and running your own video and implying you know everything there is to be taught about the language.  I KNOW I miss something along the way, but I never know what it is to ask for help.  Tutorials like HTMLdog and the old Adobe Photoshop tutorials that came with version 5 are the exception and I have learned a great deal going through them. As an aside, Adobe's tutorials were killer and took weeks to go through them.  But that was all my job was at the time and I did learn it!  Alas, I haven't kept up with the tool, so I am rusty, but I still can turn out a credible job for an amateur.

Back to the point, I have always found the "Bible" series useful for reference as long as you already know what you are doing.  For initial learning though, I have no suggestions other than trying to find tutorials such as those I mentioned.

Deozaan

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2010, 12:29:43 PM »
I hope you didn't miss the jQuery: Novice to Ninja book that was being given away. jQuery is an AJAX library written in JavaScript, and makes it a lot easier to communicate with or modify the DOM.

Note: I'm still a novice myself so some of my terminology may be incorrect.


barney

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2010, 01:29:43 PM »
 :( Bought the Ninja thingy many weeks ago.  Somehow, my crystal ball application failed to predict the giveaway  :o.

We've picked up several of the books that mouser mentioned, as well as a couple of others.
JavaScript:  A Beginner's Guide is kind of disappointing/dated, but guess it works as an introduction.
JavaScript & DHTML Cookbook (I'm a cookbook aficionado) looks to be informative, but she'll need a bit of intro, first.
JavaScript Demystified ... eee, think that's kinda like the Beginner's Guide, but a bit more recent.  Suspect both will be in a love/hate category - different learning paradigms on the part of the student.

Have some jQuery and Ajax books, but think she needs to get a fairly solid grounding before jumpin' into those  ;D.

jamiemac2005

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2010, 04:13:28 PM »
Hi, i know this seems a little late but i came accross the thread in the newsletter and it's a topic that was an absolute nightmare in my past.

The ONE book to read on Javascript is "Javascript: The definitive guide" by David Flanagan (As posted above by mouser)... I came accross the book through another person's blog on exactly this subject (sorry i don't remember where). But essentially i read 5/6 other books including the "for dummies" and Sams "learn * in 24 hours" books and they all felt lacking; i could write the functional code to swap images, do everything that these basic books teach you to do... But i couldn't tell you a thing about cross-browser compatibility and i couldn't fix my own issues in the base code that i'd written. They left no real standard for coding, and no real advanced use of Javascript.

They also left no direction in where to go after the book. Someone suggested Javascript: The definitive guide and i read it, from start to finish, it was honestly the definitive guide. It goes through everything from basic syntax and semantics to using Javascript in some obscure ways that the other books had just not touched (e.g. Using Javascript as an Object Oriented language, and data encapsulation).

So yeah, i've always suggested that book to anyone asking where to learn Javascript(No matter what skill level). If you wish to branch into jQuery and Ajax it's worth buying something else afterwards (There's material on Ajax in The definitive guide, and a guide on where to go next but Ajax seems more readily developed and changing)... But this book was my true introduction to C-Style languages and without it i don't think i'd be where i am today as a programmer.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 04:15:46 PM by jamiemac2005 »

barney

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2010, 05:24:21 PM »
Yeah, it's a great book ... been in my library since I started working with JavaScript, I think.  In fact, I just ordered a new copy, since the first one was pretty ragtag  ;D.

Unfortunately, Dee didn't much care for it ... doesn't really have what you might call a logical approach (don't tell her I said that :o).  So we've been trying some other tomes.  She's partial to the cookbook approach - it better fits her approach to scripting - and she likes Jim Keogh's JavaScript DeMYSTiFieD , as well as a few tutorials she's downloaded here.

'Preciate your contribution, though, and wholeheartedly concur ... that book has spent more time on my desk than in the bookshelf  :D.

complearning123

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2010, 03:37:32 AM »
This one is pretty good I think for the beginner:

http://www.davesite.com/webstation/js/

and here's another resource:

http://www.webteacher.com/javascript/
Lord, please make my words sweet and tender today, for tomorrow I may have to eat them!"

normeus

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2010, 01:29:30 AM »
I liked this book because it has PHP,Javascript and MySQL:

Learning PHP, MySQL, and JavaScript: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Websites (Animal Guide)

You need all three to get you going and the book has samples for all three

app103

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2010, 11:05:10 PM »
You might as well grab The Web Book, since it is free and targeted at the beginner. It covers a lot of the basics in a lot of things related to building your own website, javascript included.

I have a chapter listing posted here, so you can get an idea of what it covers.

complearning123

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Re: In search of JavaScript book(s) for a kinda novice ...
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2010, 08:46:10 PM »
Thank you app103 for the link to the WEb Book.  Fantastic resource. 


cheers

stephen aka complearning123
Lord, please make my words sweet and tender today, for tomorrow I may have to eat them!"