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Foundations of Ajax Paperback – Oct 21 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (Oct. 21 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590595823
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590595824
  • Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 1.7 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,464,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Nathaniel T. Schutta is a software engineer from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with extensive experience in the financial services arena primarily developing J2EE-based Web applications. He holds a master of science degree in software engineering from the University of Minnesota. For the last several years, he has focused on user interface design by contributing to corporate interface guidelines, and has consulted on a variety of web-based applications within his organization. A longtime member of the Association for Computing Machinery's Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group, and a Sun Certified Web Component Developer, Nathaniel believes if the user can't figure out your application, you've done something wrong. Along with his user interface work, he has contributed to two corporate Java frameworks, developed training material, and lead several study groups. During the brief moments of warm weather found in his home state of Minnesota, he spends as much time on the golf course as his wife will tolerate. He's currently exploring Ruby, Rails, and after recently making the switch, Mac OS X.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9a4d7c6c) out of 5 stars 35 reviews
73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a510738) out of 5 stars Taking JavaScript Seriously Oct. 14 2005
By Ernest Friedman-Hill - Published on
Format: Paperback
Ajax is an unusual beast. It's not a product. It's not a standard. It's not a tool. It's not proprietary. And it's not a proper noun -- it's an acronym (although it's usually spelled as if it were a proper noun). Instead, Ajax is a collection of techniques for building highly interactive Web based applications using industrial-strength JavaScript and asynchronous communications, and it's taking the Web development world by storm. This is one of the first books to appear on this very hot topic, and I have to say it's a very good one.

"Foundations of Ajax" takes you through the whys and wherefores of Ajax, as well as the meat and potatoes, at a brisk pace. The examples are crystal clear. One difficulty in describing Ajax applications is that they're inherently multi-language -- part is always JavaScript, and the rest is always written in a server-side language of your choice. Choosing a particular server language might have alienated some readers unfamiliar with it. This book neatly sidesteps the problem by using fixed XML files for the server component for most examples, which leads to startlingly simple descriptions.

As someone who has already learned the basics of Ajax, however, I found the second half of the book even more valuable. The last few chapters talk about tools and techniques for building real-life professional-grade applications. There is excellent, detailed information about documenting, unit testing and debugging for JavaScript, debugging Ajax communications, and using some of the newfangled Ajax frameworks that have begun to appear. These chapters credibly demonstrate that it's possible to treat JavaScript as a Serious Programming Language.

In sum, I think that "Foundations of Ajax" is an excellent piece of work which belongs on every Web developer's bookshelf.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a51078c) out of 5 stars Book for building a foundation on Ajax technology Nov. 15 2005
By Lasse Koskela - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Foundations of Ajax" is the first book I've read about the technology, regardless of the astonishing hype it has received lately. It was an easy read, I learned a lot, and, while I was left wanting something more, still, I'd say this is a great book for getting started on Ajax.

The first half of the book runs through a quick history of web technologies and gives a pretty balanced view on the "why" and "why not" of Ajax, explains the fundamental technologies and techniques, and showcases some typical Ajax features like auto-completion, auto-refreshing pages, and a file upload progress bar. While at times the pace of the discussion seemed a bit slow even for myself (not being too familiar with JavaScript in general), I found the fundamentals given on XMLHttpRequest and DOM to be very valuable in terms of understanding what's happening "under the hood" when using those fancy Ajaxian features.

The second half of the book is more focused on tooling. The authors have done a huge favor to the reader by showing how to debug and test JavaScript code, although I had to re-read a page or two of the jsUnit chapter after falling off the sled on how and where the tests are actually executed. The first appendix gets an honorary mention as well, as I found the list of cross-browser compatibility tips to be extremely useful.

The downside to the book, in my opinion, is that while the second appendix does enumerate a long list of Ajax frameworks, only Taconite (the authors' own framework) is presented in any detail. Frankly, I would've wanted to see the authors present even short examples of more "mainstream" frameworks such as Dojo and Prototype. Somewhat related to this, while after reading the book, I feel I have a good foundation for Ajax and would certainly be capable of putting together some fancy Ajax widgets, I'm afraid I wouldn't get as much "done" as I could if the book would've allocated more inches on using state-of-the-art Ajax frameworks. Having said that, I knew that that wasn't a goal for the book so it's not really too big an issue for me.

In summary, a great book for building a foundation on Ajax technology. Get it, read it, hack on some JavaScript, and then go learn the latest and greatest Ajax framework.
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a510bc4) out of 5 stars friendly enough introduction, but could have been much better Feb. 9 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a rather unambitious book. It's fairly good at what it tries to do, but it doesn't try to do very much. While Manning's Ajax in Action tackles the subject from the standpoint of engineering desktop-replacement applications, Foundations is content to talk about Ajax as a means of adding small-scale usability enhancements to a web application you're already building. Likewise, they assume you already know all you need to know about whatever HTML and about web development platform you're using, and just need to sprinkle some Ajaxy goodness on your site.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. And I have little doubt that there are a lot more people looking to use Ajax to spruce up an existing site or application than looking to build major web-based applications. And lots of those people will already know other aspects of web development and not need a rehash. For these sorts of developers, books like this one will fill an important niche. And Foundations has a lot to recommend it. It's well written and edited, and it has a friendly learning curve. It covers building a toolset for working effectively with JavaScript, like JavaDoc, JsUnit, GreaseMonkey, and Venkman.

The main way in which this book shoots too low is by providing its straightforward examples only for Java on the server side. For a book that clocks in a thin 273 pages, it surely would have been easy to take the 50 pages of Java examples in chapter 4 and provide parallel chapters that implement the same examples in, say, PHP and ASP.Net. If the authors had merely done that, I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this book to Ajax newcomers. As it is, I can't help thinking that this book should be called Foundations of Ajax in JavaScript and Java. And since only the simplest of examples (the ones without any server-side interaction) will work on other platforms, this book will be completely useless to a large portion of its target audience. What a shame.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a510f84) out of 5 stars Good introduction to Ajaz, but too Java-centric March 25 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
With so much energy having been pumped into server-side programming over the last five years, the new trend is a return to developing rich clients. I've previously read several of the intermediate-to-advanced titles currently in print, so I appreciated this book's fundamental tone and approach to teaching what Ajax is and how web programmers can use it in their web applications. The book is what one just wanting to get up to speed with the next big thing would expect, and in that regard is very valuable: short chapters, lots of code and examples that can be directly copied into projects.

The main concerns of programming with XHTML, CSS, XML and JavaScript are dealt with properly. The basic construct used to create an XMLHttpRequest object and work with it is replicated throughout the book, showing how easy it us to get up and running with Ajax. There are a few minor syntactical differences in the coding styles used by either author, but those are minor. The book's first four chapters are really good learning tools towards learning Ajax programming, GET'ing and POST'ing data to the server, and processing both text- and XML-based responses.

The book is very modern, using several up-to-date examples of Ajax programming like those employed by NetFlix and A9, and makes frequent use of sidebars to note cross-browser incompatabilities for those unavoidable DOM quirks. Chapter 4's examples are very useful, pragmatic utilities most sites could use at some point.

The one glaring point of criticism I have is that the book should have been titled "Foundations of Ajax for Java". Not that it's a bad thing, but in contrast to most other books that take a framework-agnostic approach to showing Ajax, often using .NET, PHP, CGI and Java examples, this book sticks with the approach of using servlets (and later, JSPs) to processing remote scripts, and bases the later chapters on testing and debugging on available Java tools. Again, there isn't anything inherently wrong with this, but the approach is a little one-sided for those of us not working in Java shops.

Overall, this is a great read for any programmer at any level, to be followed by other APress titles on Ajax that deal with more advanced JavaScript programming. It also makes a good teaching reference for a classroom setting.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a513084) out of 5 stars Helps making Ajax fondation strong Oct. 20 2005
By Kavita Devi - Published on
Format: Paperback
The technologies that are coined in term AJAX are not quite new, but the term AJAX is new, you can compare the same with the quote "OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLE". AJAX is becoming hot day by day, as the companies are using this term to sell their products and obviously by using the Ajax one can design the better web based applications.

As per my knowledge the book "Foundations of Ajax" is the first book published on this hot Topic. The authors of the book Ryan and Schutta have done a great job. In my opinion this book will help two kind of developers. First to those who want to start understanding the basics of Ajax and in turn help them in implementing the AJAX in better way. This book explains the concept with good crystal clear examples. Secondly to the advanced developers who want to enhance their skills, I would say that especially the chapters 5,6,7,8 are more useful for them.

It would be better if the authors have added one chapter in this book to discuss the available frameworks on Ajax.

In nutshell I can say that this book is good book for developers and will help them in enhancing the skills on Ajax.

-:) Kavita