JavaScriptThe Definitive Guide

by Joe Gillespie — Apr 1, 2004

Most Web designers have used JavaScript. Whether it is just to make a button rollover or 'sniff' a browser version, they will have either used a pre-programmed script generated by their WYSIWYG editor's 'actions' or copied and pasted it from another script. Lots of people use JavaScript like this without really understanding it - and it's not all that difficult. The trouble is that you don't learn anything from using a program's 'action' menu, you need to sit down and take it from the beginning with a good book. JavaScript, The Definitive Guide, is one of the best.

The book starts off 'exploring' JavaScript, showing what it can and can't do. It's very important to understand this from the outset because early implementation of JavaScript had horrendous security holes. Now that it has matured, it is pretty secure but at the expense of NOT being able to do certain things – like writing or overwriting files on the users machine or sending their email address back to a malicious Web site.

When you have grasped the fundamentals, you are taken though the various text and number manipulation functions that make JavaScript so useful. As it delves-in, you begin to appreciate that there's a lot more to it than doing image swapping, although this topic is well covered. It shows how to work with form elements, generate dynamic pages, store and read cookies and very importantly, how to make your JavaScript compatible across platforms.

The final half of the book is a JavaScript reference - and surely where the 'definitive' moniker comes in because this is everything you want to know about JavaScript in an easily accessible form. Like any language, the key to using JavaScript is getting the syntax right. It is very fragile in this respect because one tiny period out of place can stop not just the function but the entire script from working. Once you get the hang of where the dots go, it's sweet music from there on in.

Where JavaScript - The Definitive Guide is indeed what it says, perhaps it could do with a few more 'get your feet wet' examples in the early pages. There's no denying that the information is sound, but a friendlier face would give the novice more confidence.

JavaScript - The Definitive Guide
Author David Flanagan
Publisher O'Reilly & Associates
ISBN 0596000480
Price $39.96
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