Pro JavaScript RIA Techniques: Best Practices, Performance and Presentation


Author: D Odell
Publisher: Apress, 2009
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-1430219347
Aimed at: Web applications developers
Rating: 4
Pros: Well presented collection of ideas
Cons: Lacks overall structure
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot


This is very much a collection of topics that the author thought were interesting, important, or would just fit into a book with the very general title of "Best Practices, Performance and Presentation". As a general reading book it mostly works and you could become enthusiastic about implementing many of the efficiency or other best practices outlined but some could just be a waste of time that you could use on other aspects of the site.

It starts off by explaining some of the more sophisticated aspects of JavaScript and browsers. Most of the ideas can be found in any intermediate JavaScript book - objects, closures and using functions in clever ways - but it's well presented, easy to read and makes sense.

The author then goes on to make a point of indicating why you should be careful about what JavaScript library you select and in particular that it should be tested. Unfortunately in the rest of the book we have some very long JavaScript listings that do fairly standard tasks such as calendar widget. If you really want a calendar widget then you need to find one in a down-loadable library rather than picking one from a book. The only value in presenting such a listing is to explain how it works and hence teach the reader something about JavaScript, but this doesn't seem to be the author's main intention. Basically if the book if preaching "use production quality code" it isn't at all clear why the listings are included at all. It would be more logical and useful to show how to do the same tasks using a library.

There are also a lot of efficiency tips and techniques but very little evidence to suggest which work reliably in what situations and, of course, how much gain are we getting for the overall pain. You need to remember that the first law of optimisation is "don't do it".In this case the biggest problem is known what impact any given optimisation tip might have on the operation of your site. It might speed it up but, as the author admits you could get it wrong and actually slow things down. Some facts and figures would be helpful and some discussion of how to find bottlenecks

The book also deals with a number of odd topics - typography, multimedia, binary Ajax and so on… It's all good fun and if you want a book about JavaScript and on the general topic of creating rich internet applications then you will probably enjoy large portions of it. However don't expect it to be a coherent account of anything and it certainly isn't a complete guide to creating any sort of RIA.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 July 2009 )