There need to be more Ajax books like this. No, let me rephrase. Rather, more of the Ajax books out there should've been like this one. I just finished reading through AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications and it is by far my favorite book on the topic of Ajax yet. The authors of this book: Bogdan Brinzarea, Mihai Bucica, Cristian Darie and Filip Chereche'-Tosa have done a great job of keeping the topics focused and applicable.
Sure, I could install Microsoft's .NET SDK or Sun's J2EE, but the likelihood of me every either using these two platforms is pretty slim. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against Microsoft or Sun as companies. I use Windows like everyone else, and am quite fond of OpenOffice. Suffice it to say, I am a front-end designer who is familiar with PHP.
There is a full gamut of examples to test out. I liked the way they list the full code in the text, in addition to offering the option of downloading it from Packt. I've read too many programming books that assume you're right there at your computer while reading. I don't know about you, but I like to take books with me to read when I can grab a spare minute here or there.
Before I get into the contents of the book, let me point out a few caveats, in case you are considering purchasing it (which I would still recommend, if you're into PHP). In some of their code examples, they use XHTML 1.1. This is all well and good, but they neglect to specify content-type, meaning that it defaults back to text/html. So, while it still works just fine in a browser, it is against the W3C recommendation for how to serve various media types.
XHTML 1.1 should be served only as application/xhtml+xml, so their code examples would be better off as XHTML 1.0 Strict, because they aren't making use of any of the additional features to be found by stepping up to 1.1. Another thing to correct in their code would be line-breaks, which are consistently written throughout as [br/] when really it should be [br /]. Though seemingly innocuous, that single space is important. (Note: I used square brackets in the place of angled brackets, since Amazon does not allow for HTML in their reviews.)
While some of these topics are covered in other books out there, I had not found one which covered them all from a PHP standpoint. Now that I have, I think I will probably give book reading on Ajax a rest (not REST) for awhile, because I think that with this book, I am contented. Now it's just a matter of going out there and actually making use of the topics that were covered.