I recently finished reading Head Rush AJAX and would like to share my comments on the book.
This book is written by Head First Labs and is the first of the series I have read. I picked it up because of a recommendation from a friend. I remember looking with disdain at the books in the series when I had seen them on the shelf. I remember thinking, “They look so elementary, we don’t need another ‘For Dummies’ series”. I, like most computer people, have picked up and read a “For Dummies” book, but after you get through your second, they really loose their allure. My first three technology books were from that series, and I have never committed to reading another one.
When it comes to Head First AJAX the phrase “Never Judge a book by its Cover” has never been more true. If you look at the cover and see the guy doing an one handed handstand you might not want to take the book seriously, but this is a serious book with a serious introduction to a very new and very powerful technology.
About the Reader
This book covers the following topics:
- Discussion of why there is a need for AJAX
- Basic PHP on the web server side
- Introduction to Web Security (defending against SQL injection)
- The Document Object Model (DOM)
- Introduction to JSON
Each of the topics in the list above is described using both pictures and instructions. There are several cornerstones to the Head First approach, but two of these really stuck with me. Firstly, everything that is important is repeated. Secondly, information is presented in both a textual and graphical format. Text is placed next to pictures to get your mind to remember it. This is EXACTLY how I learn, so this book worked great for me.
My second issue is the discussion of frameworks doesn’t occur until the Appendix. While understanding the fundamentals of AJAX is very important, in practice frameworks are more practical then rewriting code that already exists out there. There is a discussion of frameworks and how to use them, but that isn’t until Appendix I.
In short, Appendix I is not an optional read. The contents of this Appendix I feel are completely necessary in order to actually start using AJAX, and the fact that it is listed as an Appendix is misleading.
I would strongly recommend this book to someone in my position. It gave a great introduction to AJAX for someone already familiar with web programming. I could see how users without any experience in web programming might get lost by this book, but it was PERFECT for me. I have since purchased my second book from Head First Labs, and will hopefully write a review of that title shortly.