jQuery in Action

Author: Bear Bibeault & Yehuda Katz
Publisher: Manning, 2008
Pages: 376
ISBN: 978-1933988351
Aimed at: web developers
Rating: 4.5
Pros: Worth keeping close for reference
Cons: Lacks detail of jQuery UI
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

jQuery, despite its name doesn't have anything to do with database or queries - unless you are thinking of selecting objects in the Document Object Model of a web page. jQuery is a lightweight JavaScript library that makes working with the DOM much, much easier. If you want to create dynamic web pages that have extensive work done to them on the client side of the interaction then jQuery is an excellent choice. It's also an open source library which makes it free to use and you can always read the code if something doesn't work.


However, as is the case with most open source software, the documentation just doesn't keep pace with the project. The good news is that jQuery in Action is actually more reliable than the on-line documentation. It's a practical book that explains how jQuery works without digging into the details of its implementation. It attempts to give you the flavour of the philosophy behind the design and explains how best to use it. While there are some useful appendices that explain some of the basics and also more exotic aspects of Javascript, you really do need to know the language and understand the way that it interacts with the DOM.


The book starts off gently with basic principles, moves on to consider the key idea of the "wrapped set" and how to pick out particular DOM elements. It then describes how you can use jQuery to modify the DOM and hence create dynamic or customised web pages. Next we move on to consider how jQuery makes event handling easy and relatively browser-independent. Then there is an easy approach to Ajax and on to animation, which while not jQuery's strong point, is still worth using. Finally we take a look at adding to jQuery by way of how to write and use plug-ins. It does touch on jQuery UI, which is a growing but currently very messy area of jQuery, but not at sufficient length to make sense of it. The omission of a good guide to the UI is perhaps something to be put right in the next edition.


You definitely get the impression that there are two authors at work - one who likes short pithy examples that explain the basic operations and another who likes longer examples that show the technology in context. For my money the short examples work better but if you prefer studying the longer models they aren't too difficult. This isn't the best book that could be written on jQuery but it is currently the best there is. It's good enough to need to be kept next to your keyboard as you work so that you can look things up, and this is a rare honour.

<Reviewed in VSJ>




Last Updated ( Friday, 17 July 2009 )