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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: David Flanagan
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Another great one from Flanagan

If you're already an experienced programmer, it can be frustrating trying to find a good book on JavaScript (aka JScript, aka ECMAScript, aka ECMA-262). A lot of books out there are aimed at HTML developers, maybe even graphic designers. Many such users have little or no real programming experience, and maybe no real interest. Books for that audience are user-friendly, filled with useful examples, and low on scary-sounding technical terms. In other words, almost useless.

Flanagan has good credentials as a technical writer, and as a highly technical writer. He really knows what software engineers look for - trust me, it's not what a graphic designer looks for.

This starts with a clear, methodical description of the language. Flanagan goes through all the language basics, pointing out where JavaScript differs form languages like Java, C#, or C++. The differences are numerous. For example, JavaScript has typed data, but not typed variables. It's object oriented, but doesn't have classes. It's an interpreted language, not compiled, and that opens up generative programming possibilities that reflection APIs can't approach.

After the language itself, Flanagan presents it in the client-side HTML context, where it appears most often. That's about 20% of the book. It goes over all the common HTML features, and shows how JavaScript can add dynamics or configurability to most HTML features. The last part of this section discusses XML and the DOM model. It does not yet discuss the E4X standard, ECMAScript for XML, the new ECMA-357 standard. As of this writing, the standard has only been out for three months, though. I'm sure Flanagan will catch up to it soon.

The book's remaining three sections cover the language's basic APIs, the APIs needed in the client-side HTML context, and the DOM model. The first two are fundamental to any non-trivial use of the language, the last is the programming model that gives access to XML or XHTML in a rational, predictable way.

JavaScript has a number of very different user communities, with different needs when it comes to language documentation. This isn't a cut&paster's book, and is nothing at all like a training guide. It's a reference manual. If you're a serious techie, then this is the book for you.


Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Networking for Dummies, Sixth Edition
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Doug Lowe, Doug Lowe
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
The dumbest of the dummies

I completely agree with all of the other 1-star raters. I was looking for a guide for troubleshooting and fixing problems with peer-to-peer networks (which most homes and small businesses use)-- and this book just ain't it.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The thinking person's java book

This book is not "Teach Yourself Java while watching TV" or "Learn Java in 3 minutes a day" - this is really more of a comparison to many other languages, along with lucid explanations of java's unique features. You should have some programming experience before picking up this book. C++ or smalltalk experience would be helpful. Any structured language though would be good to get started. The reason you should have SOME background is that the author spends a lot of time drawing parallels between java and other languages, and it helps to have some perspective. At least if you don't know about the language he's talking about, then at least you can fill in the language of your choice and try to draw your own parallel. The chapters on garbage collection and exceptions were very helpful. Serialization became clear to me. Good coverage of the difference between the stack and the heap and why you have to "new" a class but not a primitive data type.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PHP Cookbook
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: David Sklar, Adam Trachtenberg
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Cookbook's galore

I ordered a copy of the "PHP Cookbook ORA", along with a copy of the "Professional PHP 4 web Development Solutions WROX". Upon reading both these books, i thought i should offer a honest review comparing the two:
Both the books were informative in their own right
o The ORA book had small snippets of code based solutions (very similar to the PHP Developers cookbook from Sterling and Andrei) that are very useful for programmers who are confounded with small to medium coding problems. However, there was nothing enterprising about the coverage, that one could not achieve from using a combination of the online docs + mailing lists. Another downside was that i could not find full solutions that i could re-use in my projects.
On the Other hand, i found
o The WROX book offered complete solutions to real world problems - a Simple/advanced CMS (the core of which you can plug into your site), a simple search engine, a classified ads board, and lots of cool creative case study solutions that i could extend to use in my hobby sites. The content was very enterprising and all of the solutions presented are the most popular one's amongst web developers these days. More interesting is that these solutions can be completely re-used and extended into your projects. However, the downside of this book is that you would need to have prior PHP knowledge either picked up from WROX' Professional PHP 4 (as is mentioned as a pre-requisite in the book) or from the Programming PHP ORA, or any another competent professional PHP programming books in the market.
So the bottomline is:
oCare for an appetiser - Pick up the ORA book.oCare for a full meal - Pick up the Wrox book.
I am posting this same review for both the books (so customers can benefit from it). However, i have ranked the Wrox book, a notch above this one, simply because i wanted a burp:-)