Review: jQuery in Action

jQuery in Action - Cover

jQuery in Action provides an in-depth look at the use of the jQuery framework. It starts off with an introduction, and how it can be used to manipulate elements of the DOM, and work with the event model. Emphasis is placed on unobtrusive scripting, which I like. It is an important consideration for scripting modern web sites.

Things start getting more advanced when the book gets into animations. I know I need to re-read this section as it is a bit much to take in all at once. The reader is then shown a sampling of the numerous utility function included in the library. A selling point of jQuery is that it contains all those useful functions, yet doesn’t try to do everything that can be done. A chapter is devoted to creating custom functionality by writing plugins that hook in to jQuery.

The next big chapter is using jQuery to implement AJAX. This is some hefty material, and is also a need-to-re-read for me. The final chapter describes a few popular jQuery plugins. I have to wonder if this is redundant, as only a few were shown, and the plugin landscape would likely evolve a fair bit from the time the chapter was written. However, it does give the reader an idea of what jQuery can do, and how it can be extended through plugins. Perhaps this content should have been part of the plugins chapter.

Following the final chapter is an appendix, which goes into detail some of JavaScript’s advanced topics. It is mentioned in the introduction, and is recommended immediate reading for those who are not too familiar with the topics covered. It is necessary to have an understanding of these before using a library like jQuery. It is also good to be familiar with the underlying language before relying on a library.

The examples throughout the book are relevant, and make the point effectively. The code snippets are easily distinguishable from the rest of the text, and the text is clear and easy to follow. The source code is available to download from the Manning website.

The impression I get is that this is an introductory book to jQuery – aside from the appendix, it does not attempt to teach you JavaScript, which is just as well, since that needs a book all on its own. But for those new to jQuery, this book is a good primer that covers a range of common uses of the framework. It is intended as a tutorial, but I think it will be a good book to have handy when doing web work

The book is written for jQuery 1.2, while the latest version is 1.3. I don’t think the version difference is a real issue, as the book will still be very applicable. That’s always the trick with technical books, but this one should be relevant for a good while yet.