Book Review: Learning jQuery 1.3

As a web developer, I swear by jQuery. The library has done wonders to make JavaScript both fun and usable, two words that I never thought I’d use to describe it when I was first learning to use JS. My approach to learning jQuery has always been somewhat haphazard, though, learning the little bits I need here and there to do what I need to do at the time.

That’s no way to live as a professional web developer, though, so when Packt Publishing asked me to review their new jQuery book, it seemed like the right time to receive a more thorough education in the library.

Learning jQuery 1.3: Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques, by Jonathan Chaffer and Karl Swedberg, aims to provide a thorough introduction to jQuery. It walks the reader through techniques for DOM traversal and manipulation, event-handling, animations, and Ajax. After several chapters of detailed examples, the book concludes with an introduction to using and writing jQuery plugins.

Who Should Read This Book

Learning jQuery 1.3 is written for someone who’s never used the jQuery library. The “1.3” in the title indicates that the examples in the book use jQuery 1.3, not that it will teach you about the differences between versions 1.2 and 1.3.

Chapters 1-6 provide the real meat of the book for the new jQuery user, walking the reader through the key techniques for using jQuery. I’ve been using the library for a couple of years, but I still managed to pick up a few tips from this section. Even so, a jQuery novice would get much more out of this section.

The authors assume the reader knows the basics of HTML and CSS. Some more advanced concepts are explained, but the book is pleasantly free of long detours into these tangential topics. The reader should also be familiar with JavaScript, at least understanding basic syntax. Once again, some more advanced topics are briefly explained, but the explanations are rarely too involved.

What to Skip

Chapters 7-9 aren’t really worth the time. These chapters each give a long, detailed, contrived example of using jQuery to accomplish a specific task. Having examples is good, but you can probably find better ones more relevant to your needs on the Internet.

Make Sure to Read

Chapters 10-11 can be helpful even to the experienced jQuery user. Chapter 10 gives descriptions of several helpful plugins that you might not have heard of. Chapter 11 covers the basics of writing a plugin, including many tips on making your code more re-usable.

Summary

I’m glad I read the book, and I’d definitely recommend it to someone looking to learn to use jQuery for the first time. It provides a much more solid foundation than you can find reading tutorials on the Internet. It’s definitely an introductory book, though, not the sort of book you need to re-read or keep on-hand as a reference.

You can buy Learning jQuery 1.3 from Packt Publishing or Amazon, among other places. Or perhaps you can check it out from your local library.

Notice: This book review was written at the request of Packt Publishing. Packt Publishing had no input on the contents of the review. All opinions are those of the author of this blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Packt Publishing or the authors of the book.

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