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O'Reilly's "JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, Fifth Edition": A Guide for Today's JavaScript Programmers

August 28, 2006; 09:29 AM
Recently JavaScript has gone from being the ugly duckling of web scripting languages to being the force behind such Ajax powerhouses as Gmail and Backpack. The language has grown in importance and the size of scripts has ballooned.

As David Flanagan, author of the JavaScript: The Definitive Guide (Fifth edition, O'Reilly, US $49.99) notes, "After the fourth edition of my book was published in 2001, the world of client-side web development entered a four-year period of relative stability. JavaScript was stable and well supported at version 1.5. The W3C DOM was stable, and reasonably well supported by developers. I grew complacent...there never seemed to be the need to update the fourth edition.

"Then Google released their Gmail application and people noticed that it didn't behave like the web sites they were used to. And Jesse James Garrett published his seminal essay on this new style of web development, which he christened Ajax. All of a sudden, the world of JavaScript had changed."

So Flanagan set himself to overhauling the classic, bestselling guide to JavaScript (with more than 300,000 copies sold). He explains, "The new edition has been thoroughly updated so that it covers JavaScript the way it is used today, rather than the way it was used in 2001. These changes appear throughout the book. But the most important new material are the new chapters on scripted HTTP and XML manipulation: these are the cornerstones of Ajax applications, and these two new chapters explain them, with detailed examples.

"Almost as important are the rewritten chapter on JavaScript classes and the new chapter on JavaScript namespaces. For today's web applications, JavaScript developers are writing programs that are an order of magnitude longer than the scripts that most of us were writing five years ago. The new material on classes and namespaces explains how to structure JavaScript programs and offer techniques for successfully using JavaScript for 'programming in the large.'"

This book is both an example-driven programmer's guide and a keep-on-your-desk reference, with new chapters that explain everything you need to know to get the most out of JavaScript.

Part I explains the core JavaScript language in detail. Those who are new to JavaScript can learn the language from this section. Experienced JavaScript programmers can read it to sharpen their skills and deepen their understanding of the language.

Part II explains the scripting environment provided by web browsers, with a focus on DOM scripting with unobtrusive JavaScript. The broad and deep coverage of client-side JavaScript is illustrated with many sophisticated examples that demonstrate how to:

  • Generate a table of contents for an HTML document
  • Display DHTML animations
  • Automate form validation
  • Draw dynamic pie charts
  • Make HTML elements draggable
  • Define keyboard shortcuts for web applications
  • Create Ajax-enabled tool tips
  • Use XPath and XSLT on XML documents loaded with Ajax
  • Part III is a complete reference for core JavaScript. It documents every class, object, constructor, method, function, property, and constant defined by JavaScript 1.5 and ECMAScript version 3.

    Part IV is a reference for client-side JavaScript, covering legacy web browser APIs, the standard Level 2 DOM API, and emerging standards such as the XMLHttpRequestobject.

    Flanagan is pleased with the new volume's coverage, "Many JavaScript developers have started to write longer programs and use more sophisticated programming techniques, such as closures and namespaces. This fifth edition has been fully revised for the new world of Ajax and Web 2.0 technologies. I was surprised to discover that I had almost twice as many examples as I did in the fourth edition and the examples are more than twice as long."

    More than 300,000 JavaScript programmers around the world have made this their indispensable reference book for building JavaScript applications. This updated version will lead them and others into the new world of JavaScript programming.

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