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REVIEW: "Web Developer.com Guide to Building Intelligent Website

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKGBIWJS.RVW 20000509 Web Developer.com Guide to Building Intelligent Websites with JavaScript , Nigel Ford, 1998, 0-471-24274-8, U$34.99/C$62.50 %A Nigel
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2000
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      BKGBIWJS.RVW 20000509

      "Web Developer.com Guide to Building Intelligent Websites with
      JavaScript", Nigel Ford, 1998, 0-471-24274-8, U$34.99/C$62.50
      %A Nigel Ford n.ford@...
      %C 5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H8
      %D 1998
      %G 0-471-24274-8
      %I John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
      %O U$34.99/C$62.50 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448 rlangloi@...
      %P 340 p.
      %T "Web Developer.com Guide to Building Intelligent Websites with
      JavaScript"

      When Ford uses the word "intelligent," he means it. Where other books
      might be content to have intelligence measured in remembering your
      name, or creating dancing fonts or shimmering logos, Ford attempts to
      bring the principles of artificial intelligence to Web site
      programming. In this, alas, he does not altogether succeed. You
      would need to know a lot about both JavaScript and artificial
      intelligence to create a smart site from this book.

      Chapter one starts out with a number of examples that could have been
      built with CGI scripts or frames. There is also an odd confusion with
      Java in places, even though the book does point out the difference.
      JavaScript events embedded in HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and
      forms are in chapter two, mostly using onClick. This also points out
      one weak area of the book: the content does not often explain the
      distinction between JavaScript code and HTML, and the beginning coder
      would likely be confused. Chapter three takes off, covering prompts,
      alerts, variables, arrays, functions, conditionals, and operators.
      There is still no talk of design (or even decent HTML). The material
      is easy to copy, but not necessarily to understand; the discussion of
      arrays and the examples are correct, but the novice would not
      necessarily be able to figure out that array entity numbering starts
      at zero. HTML and JavaScript are still mixed in chapter four, and
      although there is some talk of design, it isn't very good. This
      chapter also betrays the Netscape specific nature of the text.

      Chapter five promises artificial intelligence, but while it starts to
      deliver, the content is primarily concerned with drill and practice,
      conditionals, and boolean functions. Trying for a knowledge based
      system, chapter six attempts to get JavaScript to emulate Prolog, and
      presents an array based tree database along with objects.
      Interpretation of user input, in chapter seven, starts with simplistic
      input validation, and then tries to expand that to include natural
      language parsing. Chapter eight doesn't really get into game theory,
      it just gives some code for three puzzles and one game. DHTML
      (Dynamic HTML), cascading style sheets (CSS) and various commands
      dealing with appearance are covered in chapter nine. Chapter ten
      looks at server-side programming, but with some confusion and
      contradiction. For example, the text refers to server-side scripts as
      being compiled into bytecode (another possible confusion with Java?)
      but also talks about commands in the HTML code of the page. Chapter
      eleven lists a number of JavaScript resources on the Web. Appendix A
      provides an extremely terse JavaScript command reference: it's
      usefulness is doubtful.

      JavaScript is a powerful language, and it is undoubtedly possible to
      code artificially intelligent applications with it. However, this
      book does not provide sufficient background in either JavaScript or
      artificial intelligence for the novice in either to have a good chance
      of success.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKGBIWJS.RVW 20000509

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to
      err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so
      experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings
      of that precious right. - Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948)
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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