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on March 20, 2003
I have been trying to learn Javascript for a while now, and I can honestly say this book is extremely good for those just starting out. If you're looking for a reference book, look elsewhere, because this book is purely for learning.
Each chapter has one main project highlighting the main ideas of that chapter. They briefly present each at the beginning of each chapter, then teach you the different elements involved in that main project, within mini-projects. By the time you get to the end of the chapter, you already have an idea (or know exactly) how to put together the different individual elements to form that main project they showed you at the beginning of the chapter. The projects are fun, and they teach you new elements while building on things you learned from previous chapters.
This book reminds me a little of a textbook, in that there are exercises at the end of each chapter for you to do. This is helpful as practice, but what I dislike about it is that if for some reason you get stuck and cannot figure out how to do one of the exercises, neither the book nor the included CD-ROM provides you with explanations or answers for the exercises. Sometimes an exercise builds upon a previous exercise as well, which complicates it. For example, exercise #1 asks you to do something. Then exercise #2 may ask you to change the code you came up with for exercise #1, so that the code will do something slightly different. The problem is if you get stuck on exercise #1, you're at a dead end, unless the proverbial lightbulb suddenly goes off over your head.
The reason I like this book is that for the mini-projects, he shows you the code and the visual effects of the code first, and explains it afterwards. It may seem like a very trivial thing, but for some reason I don't catch on when I use the books that explain things first and then present the code.
A puzzling thing I noticed about the code within the book does not concern javascript at all, but html. Consistently throughout the first three chapters and the beginning of the fourth, he used <center><center> tags within codes, and only has one closing </center> tag for each set of double center tags. At first I thought it was a mistake, but it's too consistent for that. Every single example of code from the beginning of the first chapter to the middle of the fourth displays that. I just found it very curious.
Despite my criticisms, this book is definitely one of the better books I've read in my quest to learn javascript. It's fun, it's the only book I know of that teaches you javascript through making simple games, and except for the exercises not having answers/explanations, it's a very intuitive book.
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on October 16, 2001
Often computer books attempt to produce a book that teaches while focusing on fun, real-world level examples. Rarely do publishers and authors pull this style of book off in a manner that is useful. JavaScript Programming for the absolute beginner is a book written by Andy Harris and published by Premier Press, formerly PrimaTech, that comes about as close as you can to pulling this off.
JavaScript Programming is aimed at the beginner who is new to programming. This book teaches many of the basics of using JavaScript while creating actual programs. In the early chapters the programs are relatively simple. This includes color pickers and a mad lib game. As the book progresses, you continue learning the programming topics needed to use JavaScript, but at the same time you learn how to create a number of games--yes, games. There are games such as a dog fight game where two players fly little planes around the screen and try to shoot their opponent. When working with concepts such as arrays, you learn to also create a basketball game.
The book is effective at teaching both, key concepts in JavaScript and basic game development for JavaScript. For the absolute beginner to JavaScripts, this is a great book to start with.

For the experienced JavaScript developer, this book is still worth looking into. If you are interested in doing games, or in doing graphics manipulation in your JavaScripts, then you may still find this book worth the price, especially when you look at the CD.
The CD for this book contains all the sample code from the book as well as a number of other games including BioBattleship, DropZone, Clix, IceBlocks, and more. There are also a number of examples on the CD that use a game library that is available online.
Overall, it is my opinion that this is one of the neatest books for learning the basics of JavaScript programming. Additionally, it is a fantastic book if you are interested in getting started with game programming using JavaScript. Even if you are not interested in games, this is still a great book to check out!
There is one thing I did not manage to figure out regarding this book. The cover has a very cool looking 3D Tetris block. This same graphic is animated on the CD. Additionally, Tetris blocks are used as design elements throughout the book. I never found a Tetris game in the book or on the CD. One of my pet pieves is when a cover on a book indicates something is in the book that isn't. If you find the Tetris game in the book or on the CD, let me know. Even if it isn't there, the book is still worth the cost.
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on September 1, 2002
I didn't actually buy this book, but did a little browsing through it at the bookstore, and I can say that it is a good book for the absolute beginner. It's clearly written in a style that is fun and easy to read and NOT confusing. The examples keep you focused on learning the material - it's like swimming at the beach - you get exercise and enjoy yourself at the same time. You could have virtually no programming experience and do okay with this book (provided you have a basic familiarity with HTML).
Having some programming experience already, I opted for Javascript for the Worldwide Web instead as it appealed more to my left-brained need to know the elements of javascript right away. I'd rather skip the examples (muffins from the oven) in exchange for the ingredients to the muffins, if you know what I mean. That way I can use the ingredients any way I choose - banana walnut muffins, blueberry muffins, coconut cream muffins - you get the picture.
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on October 5, 2001
the author shows a very firm understanding of JavaScript programming. he takes you step by step through many difficult programming issues, so you don't need any programming experience at the beginning, and you will have acquired some pretty advanced knowledge about programming and good programming practices!
each chapter is centered around a specific goal; each has its own game to program. at the end of the chapter, you will have all the tools needed to program the game described at the beginning. you are motivated to actually learn the material, because it is presented in such a unique way.
there are so many examples in each chapter, complete with pictures of how things are supposed to look, and common and uncommon traps to look out for. also included, real world applications for just about every concept presented.
this book is fantastic. perfect for the absolute beginner and a great resource for anyone.
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on December 5, 2003
I just finished taking Andy Harris' Client-Side Web Programming class at IUPUI that follows this book. Written in English, not computerese, this practical, how-to guide equips you with tools that get you in the saddle and off and running as a javascript programmer. Armed with just this information, you can create highly versatile and functional web programs of which you can be proud. The applications for these concepts are limitless. Go Andy!
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