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Review Review: Bulletproof Ajax

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Author: Jeremy Keith
    Format: Paperback: 216 pages
    Publisher: New Riders Press (February 9, 2007)
    ISBN-10: 0321472667
    ISBN-13: 978-0321472663

    Review by James Pyles
    March 19, 2007

    My first surprise was how small an envelope this book came in. Sure, it was a huge envelope in terms of height and width but not thickness. I didn't even think it was a book before I opened the envelope. The very last page is 207 (although officially it's 216) which holds the "Z" in the index section so it is quite brief. That isn't necessarily a problem, though. Some books talk too much, after all.

    I must admit that I'm not being quite fair. I'm reviewing this book while I have a cold which means I feel half asleep all the time, my throat is scratchy, and the intermittent coughing just plain annoys me. On top of that, I had a brief power outage at my place and when the power came back on, DSL didn't. The ISP is blameless (this time) but apparently the telco substation providing my DSL service decided to puke and won't come up now that the power is back on. I know I shouldn't get surly with tier one tech support. After all, they exist to protect the people who are really responsible for the fubars. So in a wonderful frame of mind, I decided to review Jeremy Keith's Bulletproof Ajax. My apologies in advance.

    What I liked about this book is that it was brief. That's an advantage because some books (especially on Ajax) really pull out all of the stops and present every piece of information available on the subject. It seems like it takes quite a lot of reading to finally get at useful information. To me, useful information is what I can actually do with the technology, not just why it's so cool.

    The topics were well balanced. Naturally you start out with JavaScript and DOM but Keith didn't insist on drowning the reader in those areas. I liked the node tree diagram on page 38 because it showed a picture of what Keith was trying to say in words. For many people trying to grasp the concept of DOM, this will be a real "lightbulb-over-the-head" experience. Unfortunately, there's only one such example and it's a very simple one. Showing more complex schemes would have reenforced learning.

    The chapters in the book are put together a lot like building blocks or a construction project. There's a foundation, then a layer on top, and another layer and another layer...you get the idea. Keith doesn't insist that Ajax is one thing and takes pains to explain what it is and isn't as well as the different paths or technologies involved.

    I'm still not sure about the "bulletproof" part. To me, nothing is bulletproof unless it came from the planet Krypton and even then, a Kryptonite bullet would still get under Superman's skin. I understand the term to mean "really bullet resistant" instead. If that's Keith's understanding as well, I can pretty much agree with it.

    This is possibly the "unfair" part of my review. Each chapter ended with a brief summary which is fine and well but I'd like to have the chance to play with what I've learned. Exercises anyone? Jeremy Keith created a companion website at www.bulletproofajax.com which may hold the information I am seeking but alas, as of this writing, my DSL modem's DSL light blinks helplessly off and on while the Internet light in completely dark. Yes, I suppose I could just wait until service is restored. I have to anyway in order to publish this review online. You'll find out what I did by the end of this review. I still haven't decided yet.

    According to the Introduction, this book has been written to get the reader started using "bulletproof" Ajax or to be more accurate (my opinion), Ajax in general. The author doesn't really pin down the definition of the target audience but based on the content and brevity of the book, I imagine having some knowledge of the technologies involved would be helpful. As I mentioned before, the book seems to cut away the fat and present only the meat of the matter. It's a coin toss if the real beginner could benefit from this book because it depends on how you learn (but not necessarily how quickly) and what your experience is with web development.

    All and all, I'd recommend Bulletproof Ajax, not as the be all and end all of Ajax books and not even as a guide to how to "bulletproof" Ajax, but as a text that will quickly present all the relevant information and help you put it together. If you want to learn the basics of Ajax without wading through a 1000 page tome, try Bulletproof Ajax out for size.

    ADDENDUM: Keith got lucky and my Internet service came up as I was finishing this review. I did visit his site and probably the most useful part is here: http://www.bulletproofajax.com/code/. However, if you scroll down on the main page of Keith's site, there are links to other information related to the topic but not directly related to the book. My cold isn't going to go away as quickly (and I use the term "quickly" somewhat loosely) as my DSL coming back so I'll let you decide if the bulletproofajax site is indeed value added. I still think I'd like to see more opportunity to practice "bulletproofing" than were directly provided. Cheers.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

    Nice James - now we need someone to review your review :biggrin
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  3. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    It makes sense. Just read it more slowly. :tongue
    Certifications: A+ and Network+

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