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REVIEW: "Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript 1.3 in 24 Hours", Michae

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKSTYJVS.RVW 20000521 Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript 1.3 in 24 Hours , Michael Moncur, 1999, 0-672-31407-X, U$19.99/C$28.95/UK#17.95 %A Michael Moncur
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2000
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      BKSTYJVS.RVW 20000521

      "Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript 1.3 in 24 Hours", Michael Moncur,
      1999, 0-672-31407-X, U$19.99/C$28.95/UK#17.95
      %A Michael Moncur tyjs@...
      %C 201 W. 103rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290
      %D 1999
      %G 0-672-31407-X
      %I Macmillan Computer Publishing (MCP)
      %O U$19.99/C$28.95/UK#17.95 800-858-7674 317-581-3743 info@...
      %P 364 p.
      %T "Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript 1.3 in 24 Hours"

      The "24 Hours" conceit of the title must put severe constraints on an
      author. You have an absolute bound on the number of chapters, and
      each has to be simple enough to be absorbed in an hour. Hemmed in by
      those limitations, this book cannot be exhaustive, in terms of a
      reference to the language, but Moncur does an excellent job within
      those restrictions, and has produced a very serviceable and useful
      introduction to JavaScript.

      Part one addresses getting started. Chapter one gets off to a bit of
      a rocky start with several errors. The first HTML (HyperText Markup
      Language) specification did make provision for graphics, it was the
      browsers that didn't. The book says that JavaScript was renamed from
      LiveScript to reflect its relationship to Java, and then points out
      that there is no such relationship. A note refers to a title that it
      doesn't have, pointing out some careless editing. Moncur also says
      that scripts in headers are not executed immediately, which is wrong.
      The chapter does end with a simple beginner script that will print out
      a message. This is expanded, in chapter two, to a simple script with
      some calculations. The book starts to hit its stride with a decent
      discussion of JavaScript uses and a status bar message script in
      chapter three. Chapter four jumps the gun a bit by introducing the
      major concepts of functions, objects, and events, but not in any
      useful fashion. It also belittles concerns about JavaScript security.

      Part two gets into JavaScript basics. Chapter five is a fundamental
      introduction to variables. There is good material on strings in
      chapter six, but it doesn't do as well on arrays, insisting first that
      an array has to be declared before it can be used, and then following
      up with a script that uses an undeclared array. Logical operators and
      the if/else construction are described in chapter seven. Various
      loops are examined in chapter eight.

      Part three starts to move into advanced features. Chapter nine starts
      to point out the weakness of the "hour" model as it can't say much
      about string and array objects, mostly concentrating on Math methods.
      The discussion of browser objects skims over most and only really uses
      windows history in chapter ten. Creating custom objects is a very
      complex topic, and chapter eleven leaves a great many questions
      unanswered. Chapter twelve reviews a number of events, but focuses on
      a message in the status bar (again). The scope of events is not
      always clear.

      Part four turns to Web pages. Chapter thirteen deals with windows and
      frames, and presents a couple of buttons, but also fails to make a
      clear distinction between the JavaScript code and HTML. This same
      mixup happens in the otherwise good introduction to forms, in chapter
      fourteen. There is good, basic graphical stuff in chapter fifteen,
      with simple image maps, rollover, and even an easy animation. Chapter
      sixteen looks at different browsers, and has some cute tricks for
      dealing with non-JavaScript browsers.

      Part five gets into advanced Web features. Chapter seventeen has a
      decent introduction to style sheets, although, ironically, it is not
      as good in dealing with JavaScript as in plain HTML. The discussion
      of layers, in chapter eighteen, does not address all attributes, but
      integrates JavaScript better. Chapter nineteen has some good, but
      terse, tips about cross-browser compatibility. There is a quick run
      over multimedia plugins, and a little piano program, in chapter
      twenty.

      Part six puts it all together. Chapter twenty one has good debugging
      tips, and a very useful tip for bringing up error messages in
      Netscape. A number of the topics are included in a sample Web page
      done up in chapter twenty two, although it isn't necessarily very
      functional. Chapter twenty three puts together a shopping cart
      script. The book finishes off with a card game in chapter twenty
      four.

      Despite the rough start, and a disappointing ending with a rather
      resourceless set of appendices, the book is a good introduction for
      those who would like to get going with JavaScript programming. The
      book does make a number of errors, but these are not the type that
      will stop someone willing to do a little experimentation. Once into
      the language you will definitely need another reference, but this work
      will allow you to get in quickly, and start to see the possibilities.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKSTYJVS.RVW 20000521

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
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