Murach's jQuery 2e
Murach's jQuery 2e

Author: Zak Ruvalcaba & Anne Boehm
Publisher:  Murach 
Pages: 596 
ISBN: 978-1890774912
Print: 189077491X
Audience: Students and educators
Rating: 3.5
Reviewer: Ian Elliot

This is a very big book on jQuery. Does this JavaScript library deserve so much attention?

The answer is yes. jQuery is the standard library of the web and JavaScript. If you program in JavaScript you probably need to know something about jQuery.

Murach's books are well known for being designed for self study or in an organized course. They have multiple exercises at the end of each chapter and try to be self contained. This one is no different and if you like Murach books you will like this one. 

The authors don't assume you know any HTML, CSS or JavaScript, but you are not going to have an easy time if you really have never met any or all of these topics before.

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Section 1, JavaScript essentials for for jQuery users, consists of four chapters and 150 pages designed to get you up to speed on the technologies you need to understand jQuery. 

Chapter 1 starts of with the very basics - what is a web application, HTML, CSS and running JavaScript in a browser. Chapter 2 is an introduction to a subset of JavaScript you might need to understand and use jQuery. Chapter 3 introduces using the DOM from JavaScript without the help of jQuery and finally chapter 4 explains how to debug using Chrome's developer tools. 

If you really are complete beginner than all of these topics are too much to take in from just 150 pages - each needs a book. However, if you have met the ideas before, this is a reasonable clarification and is enough to get you up to speed. If you don't master the ideas, or mostly already know them, you don't have much chance of getting far with the next part.

Section 2, the longest one of the book, is called jQuery essentials. It starts off with a look at getting jQuery up and running and how it simplifies your program. For me it doesn't really explain the joy of jQuery - a powerful way to work with DOM and browser independence. It does say this but it doesn't really convey the horror of the alternative of trying to sniff out which browser your code is running in. The chapter covers the simpler and most useful selectors and methods. They are presented as a set of tables listing each one with a short description. Then below there are a few examples. The problem is that often the examples don't illustrate the subtle points of using the selectors or methods. This is the most complicated part of using jQuery and yet it gets just six pages of explanation and then we are into a bigger example and three smaller ones. 

Not only is the introduction to selectors and methods short, the next chapter dives off into effects and animation. Most JavaScript programmers regard jQuery's visual effects and animation something handy to have, but not a key part of the library. If you want a JavaScript UI there are lots of better alternatives. Then for reasons that really aren't obvious Chapter 7 explains how to create your own jQuery plugins. This isn't something you are going to want to do until you have lots of experience with jQuery - and most never do it. It is an advanced and fairly niche topic and yet it is introduced early. 

Chapter 8 is far more down to earth and explains how to work with forms and data validation in jQuery. As with animation and effects there are better form/validation packages but jQuery has some good ways of doing things if you you are already using it. 

Chapter 9 returns to core jQuery and explans DOM manipulation and traversal. Both of these are advanced topics and beginners often have trouble getting to grips with them. They really deserve a chapter each. As before the methods are introduced using tables and a few inadequate examples. For example after introducing a list of filtering methods we have the example:

$("#slides img")
.first().fadeOut(1000)
.next().fadeIn(1000) ...

This really does raise questions in the mind of the beginner - what does first pass to fadeOut, what ever it is .next() steps to the next item in it and then pass that to fadeIn. Of course this isn't how it works but the reader hasn't been taught how to think about the jQuery object that is returned with the results and how filters reduce the elements in the list but DOM traversal method move you in the DOM irrespective of the list. If you read the explanation very carefully you will find that it is correct but to understand it you need to know how next works and that was explained somewhere else. 

This is where section 2 comes to an end and the book gives up trying to teach you the core of jQuery. 

 

jquery

 

 

Most programmers regard jQuery UI as something separate from jQuery and an understanding of it isn't nearly as important as getting to grips with jQuery proper. Nevertheless Section 3, jQuery UI essentials, consists of more than 50 pages in two chapters on the topic.

Section 4 is about Ajax, JSON and APIs. It starts with a basic intro to Ajax in jQuery which is a big topic, but it gets just one chapter and no real discussion of anything other than the very basics and lists of functions and methods you could use. After this we have chapters on how to use various APIs - Google Maps, Geolocation, Storage and Web Workers and there is not much about jQuery here. 

The final section is on jQuery Mobile, which again is something completely separate from jQuery - they just happen to share a first name. As with jQuery UI, not every programmer using jQuery uses jQuery Mobile. 

Conclusion 

Overall this isn't a bad book on jQuery but it doesn't spend enough time getting you to use the core jQuery features. It spends too much time on jQuery UI, jQuery Mobile and various APIs that have nothing to do with jQuery at all. Of course, this might be exactly what you are looking for but if you want to master jQuery you probably need a different book.

There are lots of examples of using JavaScript and as much jQuery as is relevant so if you like this approach to learning you will be pleased. Overall though, I found the order that the material is presented and the lack of instruction about how to think about what jQuery is doing made the subject matter harder to understand. 

Related Reviews

jQuery in Action, 2nd Edition, Manning, 2010 - Rated 5

Beginning jQuery, Apress, 2013 - Rated 4

Head First jQuery, OReilly, 2011 - Rated 4

JavaScript and JQuer, Wiley, 2014 - Rated 5

For other recommended JavaScript titles see the Programmer's Bookshelf article Building A JavaScript Library

  

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 May 2016 )
 
 

   
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