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Head First JavaScript [Paperback]

Michael Morrison
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 39.99
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Book Description

Dec 30 2007 0596527748 978-0596527747 1

So you're ready to make the leap from writing HTML and CSS web pages to creating dynamic web applications. You want to take your web skills to the next level. And you're finally ready to add "programmer" to the resume. It sounds like you're ready to learn the Web's hottest programming language: JavaScript. Head First JavaScript is your ticket to going beyond copying and pasting the code from someone else's web site, and writing your own interactive web pages.

With Head First JavaScript, you learn:

  • The basics of programming, from variables to types to looping
  • How the web browser runs your code, and how you can talk to the browser with your code
  • Why you'll never have to worry about casting, overloading, or polymorphism when you're writing JavaScript code
  • How to use the Document Object Model to change your web pages without making your users click buttons
If you've ever read a Head First book, you know what to expect -- a visually rich format designed for the way your brain works. Head First JavaScript is no exception. It starts where HTML and CSS leave off, and takes you through your first program into more complex programming concepts -- like working directly with the web browser's object model and writing code that works on all modern browsers.

Don't be intimidated if you've never written a line of code before! In typical Head First style, Head First JavaScript doesn't skip steps, and we're not interested in having you cut and paste code. You'll learn JavaScript, understand it, and have a blast along the way. So get ready... dynamic and exciting web pages are just pages away.

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Head First JavaScript + Head First HTML5 Programming: Building Web Apps with JavaScript + Head First jQuery
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Product Description

Book Description

A Learner's Companion to JavaScript

About the Author

Michael Morrison is a writer, developer, toy inventor, and author of a variety of books covering topics such as Java, Web scripting, game development, and mobile devices. Some of Michael's notable writing projects include JavaScript Bible, 6th Edition (Wiley, 2006),Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours, 7th Edition (Sams Publishing, 2005), Beginning Mobile Phone Game Programming (Sams Publishing, 2004) and Java Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1997). Michael is the intructor of several Web-based courses, including DigitalThink's Introduction to Java 2 series, JavaBeans for Programmers series, and Win32 Programming series (http://www.digitalthink.com).

In addition to his primary profession as a writer and technical consultant, Michael is the founder of Stalefish Labs (http://www.stalefishlabs.com), an entertainment company specializing in games, toys, and interactive media. When not glued to his computer, skateboarding, playing hockey, or watching movies with his wife, Masheed, Michael enjoys hanging out by his koi pond.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So So Dec 6 2009
Format:Paperback
I have a number of the head first books and generally am pleased with them but I found this one somewhat disappointing. The style is just what you'd expect from a HF book but it's much too verbose. Each topic is covered well but it takes way too many pages to do the coverage. Because of the constant flogging of dead horses, it doesn't cover some of the more intricate things one might want to do with JS. I would have liked to have seen a more rapid coverage of the basics and then some coverage of more diverse uses.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A well written collection for newbies Dec 19 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought it with a few others to try to launch a magento based web site and learn how to tweak it.
Very well done piece of paper, shipped promptly...
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book March 24 2011
By Dave
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book to read for anyone delving into javascript. I have read HeadFirst's book on HTML and CSS which was so good, I bought their book on Javascript.
It is well written and done in such a way that you can understand AND write javascript. This is helpful to me as a complete novice with no one to teach me hands on.
This book is really good value for money, as is their one on HTML & CSS. If I need to get any more books on computer scripting , I will first check to see if Headfirst has a book on the topic....Well done to the writers as they have been able to transform an otherwise dry subject into an engaging, easy read!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  79 reviews
121 of 125 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but not all it could be. Feb. 5 2008
By J. Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let me begin by saying that Head First Javascript is a good book, at least compared to any other JS books I've seen. It isn't, however, a particularly good "Head First" book.

What I mean by this is that the other Head First books I've used (XHTML & CSS, SQL, and C#) have been highly interactive, easy to use, and really got the concepts into my head. I was amazed that, after just a few days with these books, I could actually build professional-looking web pages that were rigorously standards compliant; or create complex applications in C# quickly and easily; or navigate the intricacies of building and using SQL databases. The Head First method certainly seemed to work.

So when I heard the HF people were producing a JS book, I was overjoyed. Sadly, it's been a bit of a letdown. The book smacks strongly of rushed production, lacking many of the features that makes the HF series special. For example, in the C# book, the authors take the reader through application construction in a step-by-step manner, carefully explaining everything as they go. The effect is of a very knowledgeable teacher standing over your shoulder and guiding you while you code. The reader is actively involved in every exercise, building their code from scratch. There are copies of every piece of code available for download at Head First's website, but these are merely tools for checking the reader's work.

In the Javascript book, however, much of the interactivity is missing. The book reads like a walkthrough of the code samples, with most of the user participation taking the form of pencil and paper exercises. The reader could actually complete the book without switching on her PC. Even the code solutions on the HF website seem to be just tossed up there, with the page numbers each example refers to contained in a Read Me file (the book itself just contains a general instruction to grab the code from the website, without any indication of which code).

This all sounds pretty negative, and I must confess to being somewhat disappointed with the book. That said, it's still far superior to any other JS book I've tried. By the end of Head First Javascript, I did feel that the general scope of Javascript had sunk into my brain. I had a feeling for its overall structure and the ways in which it could be applied. I know that I can now tackle a more advanced JS book and absorb the concepts much more easily.

What I don't feel is ready to sit down and write Javascript. The whole experience with this book was just too fragmentary and too lopsidedly didactic. The experience was insufficiently hands-on to enable me to become comfortable with the nitty gritty of JS scripting. When I finished HF's C#, XHTML, and SQL books, I could sit down and churn out code, with only a few O'Reilly Pocket Guides beside me to refresh my memory on syntax and structure. That's not been the case with Javascript.

Head First Javascript just seems to lack the "stickiness" of the other titles in the series.
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to Javascript but not a reference book Jan. 20 2008
By tl32 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first headfirst book I read was the HTML one and I have been hooked ever since. I took a class in javascript last semester and was hoping this book would come out before finals but alas that didn't happen. Anyways, I got this book when it first came out and I have been going through it since. Here are my observations

Pros: 1)The pacing is well-balanced. For those with no experience in programming they slowly but surely introduce you to if statements, variables, loops, functions, and arrays. Ch 7 and 8 hit the sweet spot in terms of usefulness and ease of learning. The book gets more challenging at the end but by that time I was ready for the topics they introduced.
2) Chapter 7 is definitely my favorite chapter of the book. It introduced me to a much more efficient way of data editing/validation. I had always used indexof but this chapter introduced me to regular expressions and they ROCKED my world! A very practical and useful chapter.
3) The code examples- The examples they use in the book are very relevant to what you might actually use on your own website. Each chapter introduced the code layer by layer so as to not overwhelm me with its complexity
4) Attention to detail- As I read the book, I often had unanswered questions and then a couple of pages later the author would answer it. If there was function or object I wasn't familiar with, it would be explained with the pencil writing.
5) The FUN Factor! The code examples they use like the choose your own adventure in ch.8 are very creative and interesting. Some might consider the humor sophomoric but a young college student like myself appreciated it.

Cons: 1) This is not a reference book. That's a double edged sword depending on what you are looking for though. This book is a great starting off point for beginners and by the end I felt I had become very proficient in javascript. Even though this book will be my main guide for Javascript, I know there is still more for me to learn and I'll probably buy that Oreilly book with the rhino on the cover.

Bottom line: If you are taking a class in javascript or want to know how to make your web pages more interactive, this is a great introduction to javascript. Even though I still got an A, I know I could really have used this book last semester in my javascript class.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustratingly backwards Aug. 15 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I liked the Headfirst HTML/XHTML/CSS book, but I found this one poorly organized and discouraging. The exercises frequently required knowledge of concepts that had not yet been introduced. And I found the extended examples used in the book (such as an unrealistic and complicated movie theatre "seat finding" dealeo) unnecessarily confusing.

After starting it several times and struggling through 300 or so pages I broke down and bought The Book of Javascript (2nd ed) by David Thau. I'm much happier: good clear explanations from the get go, and a focus on javascript as actually used in the world.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Compared to Head First HTML, a BIG disappointment July 21 2008
By Jeffrey J. Federman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Short version: Very disappointed by Head First JavaScript ("HFJS"). Loved Head First HTML/XHTML/CSS ("HFHTML"), felt like I retained everything from it immediately, but couldn't figure out why the info in HFJS wasn't sinking in. Turned to web tutorials (better), and finally changed to Simply JavaScript(Sitepoint), a much more clearly written and explained book.

Long version: Less than a month ago, I knew very little about web design, much less any sort of programming. I'd tried to teach myself HTML from a rather dry text perhaps ten years ago, but nothing stuck. But I had a desire to give it another go, and set about finding another HTML book. I settled on HFHTML -- while it took many more pages to explain concepts which other books treated succinctly, the writing was much better in the Head First volume and I guessed I'd retain more from it.

It turned out to be a fantastic purchase, I devoured the book and within a week or so became proficient enough at HTML and CSS to code some complex site layouts. Since my latest site required dynamic behavior, JavaScript seemed like the logical next step. Given my positive experience (almost miraculous) with the HFHTML book, my first choice for a JavaScript book was HFJS. The many positive reviews on Amazon reinforced my decision.

When it arrived, I eagerly began from the beginning, skipping nothing (just as I'd done w/HFHTML). Did the quizzes, the crosswords, but from the beginning, things were a little off. In HFHTML, the authors show you where and how to introduce new code in your example pages, but in HFJS, it wasn't even clear whether you were supposed to be coding along, or merely just reading the book's examples. And while HFHTML proceeded very logically from basic to more advanced concepts, HFJS appeared to be veering all over the place. I persisted for 250 pages, but had to admit to myself that none of it was sinking in.

I turned to some web tutorials (better), and finally, purchased Simply Javascript (Sitepoint). While it is not a perfect book, either, I think it explains JavaScript more clearly than HFJS, and is better about starting the beginner off with good coding habits, such as keeping JavaScript code in separate files, rather than in the header of the HTML document (something which HFJS doesn't do). It also cuts to the chase of what most aspiring web designers want to use JavaScript for, which is dynamically modifying the content of pages via the Document Object Model ("DOM").

To be fair to the HFJS author, JavaScript is a SIGNIFICANTLY harder language to learn than HTML or CSS. And HFJS does a good job introducing and explaining the types of JavaScript data (e.g., text, boolean, number). But HFJS overall was a disappointment, and doesn't live up to the high standards set with HFHTML.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a different approach to teaching JavaScript. Jan. 12 2008
By Mfragin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this book on the strong reputation this line of books has. I like the Head First Java, 2nd Edition book, and still believe their Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML book is the best book there is for learning "smart" XHTML and CSS at the same time--whereas many books have NOT handled that balance well.

I sponsor a high school computer programming club and my students had me pre-order this book for them, as they loved the Head First HTML book and felt this would be their best bet at really understanding JavaScript.

JavaScript is a strange language to teach. Although you want to teach the basics of programming, you also want to have early exciting examples that show its possibilities when embedded in a web page. This book does about as well as can be done in one book, with sections on loops, decision making, de-bugging, functions and objects for those new to programming. Then there are also chapters on the most common uses of JavaScript, including, of course, forms and validation.

If you're familiar with the Head First approach, you will find this book to fit in perfectly with their other titles. This is the kind of book you buy, highlight, and write in. Active learning. This is not a reference book.
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