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Ajax: The Definitive Guide [Paperback]

Anthony T., III Holdener
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 4 2008 0596528388 978-0596528386 1

Is Ajax a new technology, or the same old stuff web developers have been using for years? Both, actually. This book demonstrates not only how tried-and-true web standards make Ajax possible, but how these older technologies allow you to give sites a decidedly modern Web 2.0 feel.

Ajax: The Definitive Guide explains how to use standards like JavaScript, XML, CSS, and XHTML, along with the XMLHttpRequest object, to build browser-based web applications that function like desktop programs. You get a complete background on what goes into today's web sites and applications, and learn to leverage these tools along with Ajax for advanced browser searching, web services, mashups, and more. You discover how to turn a web browser and web site into a true application, and why developing with Ajax is faster, easier and cheaper.

The book also explains:

  • How to connect server-side backend components to user interfaces in the browser
  • Loading and manipulating XML documents, and how to replace XML with JSON
  • Manipulating the Document Object Model (DOM)
  • Designing Ajax interfaces for usability, functionality, visualization, and accessibility
  • Site navigation layout, including issues with Ajax and the browser's back button
  • Adding life to tables & lists, navigation boxes and windows
  • Animation creation, interactive forms, and data validation
  • Search, web services and mash-ups
  • Applying Ajax to business communications, and creating Internet games without plug-ins
  • The advantages of modular coding, ways to optimize Ajax applications, and more
This book also provides references to XML and XSLT, popular JavaScript Frameworks, Libraries, and Toolkits, and various Web Service APIs. By offering web developers a much broader set of tools and options, Ajax gives developers a new way to create content on the Web, while throwing off the constraints of the past. Ajax: The Definitive Guide describes the contents of this unique toolbox in exhaustive detail, and explains how to get the most out of it.


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Ajax: The Definitive Guide + JavaScript: The Definitive Guide: Activate Your Web Pages + jQuery Pocket Reference
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Product Description

About the Author

Anthony T. Holdener III currently builds GIS web applications utilizing Esri ArcGIS JavaScript API, Google Maps JavaScript API, and/or Bing Maps API. He has worked with the web in one form or another since 1997 when he helped open an Internet cafe in Fairview Heights, Illinois. A graduate of St. Louis University with a degree in Computer Science, Anthony has worked as a web architect, developer, manager, or adjunct teacher for almost fifteen years in the St. Louis area. He is also the author of “Ajax: The Definitive Guide” (O’Reilly). He resides in the village of Shiloh, Illinois, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife and twins.


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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Way too much information for me Feb. 20 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is huge and full of useful info I am sure but I simply don't have time to read this bible like book
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is really a definitive guide June 15 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a server side developer and I didn't have too much knowledge about Ajax. I haven't finished this book yet but as far as I read it more I enjoy it more. It gives me exactly the information that I need to know. It has a very good style to introduce the reader new concepts and tools that have been created by Ajax. I definitely recommend this book.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
67 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive but flawed March 27 2008
By Michael Macrone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While "Ajax: The Definitive Guide" is certainly exhaustive, it's hard to have confidence in a text so riddled with errors. Other O'Reilly titles I've purchased in the last few years suffer from the same problem: very poor copy editing. In a "Definitive Guide," this is inexcusable.

Furthermore, he author's decision to rely on the Prototype framework is misguided. It saves a few lines of code per page, but one expects a "Definitive Guide" to define, explore, and use the actual objects and methods defined by the language itself, not those defined in one of many, many external libraries.

It is also somewhat comical to read on page 10 that developers, rather than browser vendors, "are to blame for not adopting standards" and that they are "stuck with the mentality of the 1990s, when browser quirks mode, coding hacks, and other tricks were the only things that allowed code to work in all environments," and then to read on page 191 that "Yes, there are always caveats in the world of standards compliance" and that "Example 7-2 will not work in Internet Explorer because Internet Explorer does not support the CSS2 rules that are used to make this work." And on page 187 that "Internet Explorer does not natively support :hover on elements other than <a>. For this reason, instead of using the CSS that will work for all other browsers, we must use this...."

(It's hard not to laugh, too, at a sentence that begins with "To take the file menu example fully to the Web 2.0 level....")

By the time all the errata are corrected and a second edition issued, it might be appropriate for the author to wag his finger at developers who can't yet afford to to be totally standards-pure, but by then the faddish jargon will seem very dated.

And until O'Reilly starts employing copy editors, I'm not buying the first edition of any title they release.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loads of Code; Good Value Feb. 27 2008
By Brett Merkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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There is a LOT of code in this 950 page book. I guess there is something here for everyone because there is code not directly related to Ajax but is directed to HTML structure or CSS presentational aspects or to frameworks that may include Ajax conveniences.

In fact, the amount of code may interfere with the author's object of appealing to two very different types of people with this book: Web developers and project managers looking for a high-level view. Except for some intro chapters and the odd breather between 10-15 page code listings, I don't think any project managers *I* have worked with would extract much from the book.

The book has 4 sections:
Part 1 - Ajax Fundamentals: the basic technologies that could form the core of a typical Ajax application.

Part 2 - Ajax Foundations: approaches to standards-compliant structure, separation of the presentational layer and client-side behaviors. Code code code!

Part 3 - Ajax in Applications: describes the specific implementations of these technologies into Web applications. More code!

Part 4 - Wrapping Up: tips on optimization.

In addition, there are some reference appendices on XML and XSLT; on JavaScript frameworks; on Ajax implementation risks; and most interestingly, a catalog of freely available Web service APIs.

One thing I did not like about the code listings was the use of Prototype style $() function syntax. This means when I see something like:
var titleText = $('title').firstChild;
I had to check whether .firstChild was a reference to a Prototype object or a reference to the standard DOM object. If the standard object, it would have been a whole lot clear just to have written document.getElementById().

The book index is actually pretty good. With 950 pages stuffed with content, you will probably be thankful for that!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Generally on the mark Sept. 8 2008
By The Commodore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let me preface this review by saying that I have never been a fan of thick programming or computer books. If a book is 2 inches thick, I often find only 1/2 to 1 inch of it to be valuable. However, most of Ajax: The Definitive Guide seems to hit the mark. Since Ajax development is such an expansive, and rapidly changing, topic, it is perhaps a good idea to shoot for too much rather than too little information. Most developers will find this book not only a good learning guide, but also a handy reference for a wide variety of coding needs.

One thing you will notice when scanning through this book is that there is a *lot* of code. The author is not afraid to publish pages and pages of Ajax code for readers to consider, copy and hack up to create their own applications. Not all is useful in real-world applications, however, since some of it is not cross-browser compatible (most often failing in Internet Explorer).

The first three chapters are largely an introduction to Web technologies, and can be skipped by most developers. In Chapter 4, the author introduces the XMLHttpRequest object, the object that puts the "asynchronous" in Ajax (an acronym for "asynchronous JavaScript and XML"). He details how to make simple applications that pull information from server-based XML or JSON, an alternative data format well suited to Ajax. Chapter 5 deals with Document Object Model programming, a critical task that allows developers to change the look and content of Web pages that have already been rendered.

After these foundational concepts, Part 2 contains nine chapters that provide specific solutions to common Web programming needs. Readers learn the ins and outs of creating Ajaxified navigation, forms, lists, tables, frames, etc.

Part 3, called "Ajax in Applications," goes a step farther by showing the reader how to integrate Ajax with other applications. Chapter 16, for example, shows the reader how to incorporate Ajaxified Google search into a site and even include such dynamic features as search hinting. Other chapters in this section introduce Web services, Web APIs and even show how to create Ajax animated games.

Part 4 contains two chapters that show readers how to create more modular code, and how to create faster, more compressed code. This is critical considering the importance of speed to the user experience in Ajax.

One of the book's shortfalls is the lack of information about the various Ajax libraries. Libraries and frameworks provide solutions to common programming needs: ready-made widgets, improved JavaScript programming notation, useful objects and easy cross-browser compatibility. The author includes a brief introduction to the libraries in chapter 4 and a reference in Appendix B. There are also mentions of the major libraries scattered throughout the chapters. However, it would be worthwhile to include at least a chapter devoted to each of the major libraries such as Dojo, Prototype and jQuery.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I must have forgotten to pick up the kitchen sink. Oh no i didn't it's this book. July 20 2009
By Steffan McMurrin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Assuming you desire to learn AJAX then the short answer is to hit that back button and try something else.

If however you want to have a brief guide of the internet, computers, and various programming languages unrelated to AJAX then you should probably hit the back button and find books related specifically to those topics.

I am a programmer and I know how to use AJAX, which for the layman is a way to refresh content on a website without reloading the page. This book I read through because I figured it was the definitive guide, and might be able to provide some insights that I was unaware of regarding AJAX.

What I received for example, in chapter 21 was "internet games without plugins" which being a gamer i found an interesting title. I thought wow okay fine, how to use AJAX to make games without plugins.. that makes sense cause we don't have to refresh the page anymore! Instead was a history of different game genres and not a quip about how to program for them.

The large quantities of code have already been mentioned, and I thought there might have been some exaggeration. There is not. However, I thought well great... now i'll see lots of AJAX examples. Nope, nothing to do w/ajax.. everything to do with css,html,some javascript .. apis, mashups .. what?

Anyway, i just hope that i can save one person from giving away their money for a piece of junk that this book represents. Unless of course learning w/some sort of shotgun analogy then go right ahead.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, thick, heavy and completely useless Nov. 25 2011
By Reevak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Ajax: The Definitive Guide" is exhaustive and boring.
It is probably the most boring programming book I have ever read.
I think a monkey smashing a keyboard would have written a better book.

Furthermore, the author's decision to rely on the Prototype framework is misguided. One expects a "Definitive Guide" to define, explore, and use the actual objects and methods defined by Javascript itself, not those defined in one of many, many external libraries (besides, Prototype has never been one of the top ones for one reason: jQuery, write less do more, is just better).

If you want to learn about Ajax, I recommend you to look elsewhere. This book is just a nightmare.
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