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Ajax Hacks: Tips & Tools for Creating Responsive Web Sites [Paperback]

Bruce W. Perry
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 31 2006 0596101694 978-0596101695 1

Ajax, the popular term for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is one of the most important combinations of technologies for web developers to know these days. With its rich grouping of technologies, Ajax developers can create interactive web applications with XML-based web services, using JavaScript in the browser to process the web server response.

Taking complete advantage of Ajax, however, requires something more than your typical "how-to" book. What it calls for is Ajax Hacks from O'Reilly. This valuable guide provides direct, hands-on solutions that take the mystery out of Ajax's many capabilities. Each hack represents a clever way to accomplish a specific task, saving you countless hours of searching for the right answer.

A smart collection of 80 insider tips and tricks, Ajax Hacks covers all of the technology's finer points. Want to build next-generation web applications today? This book can show you how. Among the multitude of topics addressed, it shows you techniques for:

  • Using Ajax with Google Maps and Yahoo Maps
  • Displaying Weather.com data
  • Scraping stock quotes
  • Fetching postal codes
  • Building web forms with auto-complete functionality

Ajax Hacks also features a number of advanced hacks for accelerated web developers. Discover how to create huge, maintainable bookmarklets, how to use client-side storage for Ajax applications, and how to call a built-in Java object from JavaScript using Ajax. The book even addresses best practices for testing Ajax applications and improving maintenance, performance, and reliability for JavaScript code.

The latest in O"Reilly's celebrated Hacks series, Ajax Hacks smartly complements other O'Reilly titles such as Head Rush Ajax and JavaScript: The Definitive Guide.


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About the Author

Bruce Perry is an independent Java software developer and writer. Since 1996, he has developed web applications and databases for various nonprofits, design and marketing firms, and ad agencies. When not hacking or writing, he loves cycling and climbing mountains in the U.S. and Switzerland. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife Stacy LeBaron, daughter Rachel, and son Scott.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good buy March 29 2011
Format:Paperback
Previously I had used a Library copy. This used copy had recently been used in a Library and had some library marks on it. Otherwise it was in excellent condition and cheaper than library fines.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast shipping and good price Jan. 18 2012
By ALEGO57
Format:Paperback
The book was recieved after only 5 days. Product is also exactly as described, good quality. Nothing more to say.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good as a supplemental book on Ajax April 11 2006
By calvinnme - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's too bad this book came out ahead of "Head Rush Ajax", because after reading that book, this book seems much better. It is not meant to be a tutorial on Ajax, but just a supplemental text full of possibly helpful code. There are detailed descriptions of each hack, but I think you'll be lost if you don't already know XML, Javascript, and DOM pretty well.
To me, the most useful hacks were in Chapter 4, where there are hacks that explore the Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and GeoURL APIs, and combine them, and also where you learn to use cookies in the Ajax environment. I also liked reading chapter 8 on script.aculo.us, and learning about how easily visual effects could be incorporated into Ajax applications. If you are not sure this book is for you, all of the code examples are available in a zipfile at the book's webpage on the publisher's site. I recommend you read "Head Rush Ajax" first, then come back to this book for some interesting extras. I notice that Amazon does not list the table of contents, so I do that here:
Chapter 1. Ajax Basics
Hack 1. Detect Browser Compatibility with the Request Object
Hack 2. Use the Request Object to POST Data to the Server
Hack 3. Use Your Own Library for XMLHttpRequest
Hack 4. Receive Data as XML
Hack 5. Get Plain Old Strings
Hack 6. Receive Data as a Number
Hack 7. Receive Data in JSON Format
Hack 8. Handle Request Object Errors
Hack 9. Dig into the HTTP Response
Hack 10. Generate a Styled Message with a CSS File
Hack 11. Generate a Styled User Message on the Fly
Chapter 2. Web Forms
Hack 12. Submit Text Field or textarea Values to the Server Without a Browser Refresh
Hack 13. Display Text Field or textarea Values Using Server Data
Hack 14. Submit Selection-List Values to the Server Without a Round Trip
Hack 15. Dynamically Generate a New Selection List Using Server Data
Hack 16. Extend an Existing Selection List
Hack 17. Submit Checkbox Values to the Server Without a Round Trip
Hack 18. Dynamically Generate a New Checkbox Group with Server Data
Hack 19. Populate an Existing Checkbox Group from the Server
Hack 20. Change Unordered Lists Using an HTTP Response
Hack 21. Submit Hidden Tag Values to a Server Component
Chapter 3. Validation
Hack 22. Validate a Text Field or textarea for Blank Fields
Hack 23. Validate Email Syntax
Hack 24. Validate Unique Usernames
Hack 25. Validate Credit Card Numbers
Hack 26. Validate Credit Card Security Codes
Hack 27. Validate a Postal Code
Chapter 4. Power Hacks for Web Developers
Hack 28. Get Access to the Google Maps API
Hack 29. Use the Google Maps API Request Object
Hack 30. Use Ajax with a Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps Mash-up
Hack 31. Display a Weather.com XML Data Feed
Hack 32. Use Ajax with a Yahoo! Maps and GeoURL Mash-up
Hack 33. Debug Ajax-Generated Tags in Firefox
Hack 34. Fetch a Postal Code
Hack 35. Create Large, Maintainable Bookmarklets
Hack 36. Use Permanent Client-Side Storage for Ajax Applications
Hack 37. Control Browser History with iframes
Hack 38. Send Cookie Values to a Server Program
Hack 39. Use XMLHttpRequest to Scrape an Energy Price from a Web Page
Hack 40. Send an Email with XMLHttpRequest
Hack 41. Find the Browser's Locale Information
Hack 42. Create an RSS Feed Reader
Chapter 5. Direct Web Remoting (DWR)for Java Jocks
Hack 43. Integrate DWR into Your Java Web Application
Hack 44. Use DWR to Populate a Selection List from a Java Array
Hack 45. Use DWR to Create a Selection List from a Java Map
Hack 46. Display the Keys/Values from a Java HashMap on a Web Page
Hack 47. Use DWR to Populate an Ordered List from a Java Array
Hack 48. Access a Custom Java Object with JavaScript
Hack 49. Call a Built-in Java Object from JavaScript Using DWR
Chapter 6. Hack Ajax with the Prototype and Rico Libraries
Hack 50. Use Prototype's Ajax Tools with Your Application
Hack 51. Update an HTML Element's Content from the Server
Hack 52. Create Observers for Web Page Fields
Hack 53. Use Rico to Update Several Elements with One Ajax Response
Hack 54. Create a Drag-and-Drop Bookstore
Chapter 7. Work with Ajax and Ruby on Rails
Hack 55. Install Ruby on Rails
Hack 56. Monitor Remote Calls with Rails
Hack 57. Make Your JavaScript Available to Rails Applications
Hack 58. Dynamically Generate a Selection List in a Rails Template
Hack 59. Find Out Whether Ajax Is Calling in the Request
Hack 60. Dynamically Generate a Selection List Using Database Data
Hack 61. Periodically Make a Remote Call
Hack 62. Dynamically View Request Information for XMLHttpRequest
Chapter 8. Savor the script.aculo.us JavaScript Library
Hack 63. Integrate script.aculo.us Visual Effects with an Ajax Application
Hack 64. Create a Login Box That Shrugs Off Invalid Logins
Hack 65. Create an Auto-Complete Field with script.aculo.us
Hack 66. Create an In-Place Editor Field
Hack 67. Create a Web Form That Disappears When Submitted
Chapter 9. Options and Efficiencies
Hack 68. Fix the Browser Back Button in Ajax Applications
Hack 69. Handle Bookmarks and Back Buttons with RSH
Hack 70. Set a Time Limit for the HTTP Request
Hack 71. Improve Maintainability, Performance, and Reliability for Large JavaScript Applications
Hack 72. Obfuscate JavaScript and Ajax Code
Hack 73. Use a Dynamic script Tag to Make Web Services Requests
Hack 74. Configure Apache to Deal with Cross-Domain Issues
Hack 75. Run a Search Engine Inside Your Browser
Hack 76. Use Declarative Markup Instead of Script via XForms
Hack 77. Build a Client-Side Cache
Hack 78. Create an Auto-Complete Field
Hack 79. Dynamically Display More Information About a Topic
Hack 80. Use Strings and Arrays to Dynamically Generate HTML
Index
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Last Book I'd Recommend on AJAX June 3 2006
By Raymond Brigleb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A lot of O'Reilly books of late seem rushed, intended to fill a sudden small vacancy in the marketplace. This is one such book. It seems not well proofed, the code samples are often big blobs of text with no indentation or concern for formatting, and the content seems rushed and poorly considered.

For example, the Ruby on Rails coverage is really slim, and the code looks like it was written a year ago. There's not a single example using RJS templates, the current standard way of writing AJAX in Rails. The Scriptaculous examples are already out of date (for example, the chapter on in-place editing is totally irrelevant - Rails has a means to do this in a single line of code by now) and the content is quite spare.

If you need a book on Ajax, look for the Manning or Pragmatic Programmer books. All the other ones are quite poor, especially this one. I usually really like O'Reilly's work, but lately it's gotten watered-down. Skip this book and save your money for something better.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ajax "Hacks" -- an accurate title April 10 2006
By Bil Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm not sure I could have made it through this book if I hadn't already read "Ajax Patterns", but I did and I found this book useful and informative. There are a pile of things that I am using for code I'm writing now.

These are hacks -- in the most prejorative sense of the word. God-awful code that does really cool stuff. All you have to do is figure out what the code is doing and you can write good code that does the same thing, better.

You've heard of "information hiding"? Where code tells you what it's going to do, just not how it's going to do it? They use "interface hiding" -- where the code DOESN'T tell what it's going to do, it just does it behind your back. For example, they have a normal looking tag: [INPUT id="ck_nm] (those are supposed to be angle brackets!) and in a completely unrelated section of JS code they add an onClick attribute. If somebody decided to rename the tag, they'd never know why it stopped working.

But in the book it's all together, they do a reasonable job of explaining it, and it does do cool things. So, take their ideas, write some clean code that implements them and be happy!

-Bil

(I'm sorry I'm so critical, but their code really is nasty, inefficent, tightly coupled, and impossible to debug.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once you have the basics down... July 10 2006
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Once you have the basics of Ajax down, you might be looking for some ideas of how to apply it to your own applications. Ajax Hacks by Bruce W. Perry fills that particular niche pretty well.

Contents: Ajax Basics; Web Forms; Validation; Power Hacks for Web Developers; Direct Web Remoting (DWR) for Java Jocks; Hack Ajax with the Prototype and Rico Libraries; Work with Ajax and Ruby on Rails; Savor the script.aculo.us JavaScript Library; Options and Efficiencies; Index

Perry collects 80 "hacks" in this volume, which is focused on different techniques for applying Ajax in various ways. The Basics section contains things that you probably will pick up in most Ajax books and tutorials, such as how to check for errors and how to detect which browser is being used. But the dynamic CSS generation ideas were pretty cool. From then on, you get a variety of hacks and code that show you how to do a number of things, such as populating dropdown lists, building mash-ups, and even how to do a drag-and-drop interface without round-tripping to the server with each action. This is one of those books that you probably won't buy with a particular need in mind, but after reading through the material you'll have some ideas that you want to explore further.

Similar to most Hacks titles, it's also not a book you'd buy to learn Ajax. But given the assumption that you know the basics, this book makes a nice addition to your bookshelf for practicality and application purposes...
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Starter Code April 20 2006
By Brett Merkey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was going to take a pass on expressing an opinion on this book since I don't intend to study every word and line of code. I plan to keep it on the shelf, as another reviewer recommends, as a supplemental reference full of starter code in case I run into any of those 80 situations the author poses.

I read the reviews before going through the book, keeping the criticisms in mind. First, the example code I tried worked fine. In addition, the book's Web site has over half the hacks already set up for you and working on their server. I just could not find anything to complain about in that respect.

As indicated by my reviews of the latest books delving into the new ways of doing JavaScript, I can judge that area too. It is true that the JavaScript in the book is not the most object-oriented, "unobtrusive," DOM-based, abstracted, and componentized stuff you can find. That is totally fine because this in not a book about the latest advances in JavaScript technique. It is a book directed to experienced developers who find themselves applying the XMLHttpRequest object to meet specific needs in specific situations.

As such, it serves very well indeed.
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