Review: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, 5th Edition

O’Reilly sent me a copy of the new 1000 page volume from David Flanagan. (Apparently, being an O’Reilly author gets you on their list for freebies.) A bunch of business ensued, and the book sat around unread for a while.

I’m not using JavaScript day-to-day anymore, but I used to during the Cardiff LiquidOffice days. I was responsible for an Ajax version of the forms engine (except nobody had thought to call it Ajax back then; the best we had was the clunky name ‘DHTML’). The 3rd edition of this book from 1998 was instrumental in my development as a JavaScript programmer. Because of that book, I stopped treating JavaScript like a scripting language, and started treating it like a programming language. I filled the margins with various notes.

When the 4th Ed. came out in 2002, I gladly picked up a copy. The most heavily-annotated section in my 3rd Ed. was gone! So over time, I kept coming back to the 3rd Ed. The new volume wasn’t enough of an improvement to overcome my intertia found scribbled in the margins.

The 5th Ed., I’m happy to say, is all I’ll be needing from here on. The language section is thoroughly updated, including contemporary coverage of closures and classes. The browser reference section is also massively improved and presented as a unified whole rather than fragmented sections. There’s a ton of new material, including all the XMLHttpRequest stuff that got me started, and about working with Flash.

Summary: this is a good one to have on your shelf, even if you have an earlier Edition. -m

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