Ajax Foundations, Ajax at Work: Book Reviews

by Pat Eyler

Title: Foundations of

Authors: Ryan Asleson and Nathaniel T. Schutta

Publisher: Apress

ISBN: 1-59059-582-3

Price: $29.99


Title: Ajax in

Authors: Dave Crane and Eric Pascarello
with Darren James

Publisher: Manning

ISBN: 1-932394061-3

Price: $44.95


Ajax has been making the rounds lately, and I needed to learn a bit
more about it. So, I grabbed copies of Foundations of
, from Apress, and Ajax in Action,
from Manning. Let me fill you in on both of them.

Foundations of Ajax is the smaller of the two
books, and it certainly feels as though it's geared to someone just
getting started with Ajax. The first third of the book--three chapters
and 74 four pages--covers the philosophy and technology behind Ajax. Then, after
a chapter on implementing basic Ajax techniques, the book moves on to another
big block--three chapters and 92 pages--covering JavaScript development.
The final chapter presents a case study in three parts; introducing patterns,
describing a framework (written by the authors) and building an Ajax project.
The book closes with two appendices and a good index.

I especially was pleased to find a chapter on JSUnit, the JavaScript unit
testing framework. The chapter provides an overview of test driven design,
documentation of JSUnit and a number of examples of how JSUnit can be

The only letdown I had with Foundations of Ajax is
it doesn't cover a lot of ground. What is covered, however, is covered well.
Overall, the book is approachable, useful and worth looking into if you're going
to be doing any Ajax work.

Ajax in Action is more than twice the size of
Foundations. The table of contents and the index both
seem more complete and better laid out in this book, too. Ajax
in Action
is broken into four parts (13 chapters) and
three appendices. The first part, "Rethinking the Web Application"; the
fourth part, "Ajax by Example"; and the appendices are similar to the
sections of Foundations of Ajax described above.
The middle two parts, "Core Techniques" and "Professional Ajax", are
where you'll find the extra meat in Ajax in Action.

Ajax in Action spends much less time with hands-on
JavaScript, but it does provide much more coverage of CSS and theory. I
also enjoyed a 30-page section, in Chapter 10, that discusses refactoring.
In addition, Manning's code typesetting--something I've always
appreciated in their books--really shines in this chapter, setting off
discussion points and changes nicely. Chapter 6, "The User
Experience", and Chapter 8, "Performance" also are good reads, chock full
of solid information.

My favorite feature of Ajax in Action is its
availability as an unencumbered PDF file. I love having a paper copy to
tote around and read but having a searchable, on-line version is really

Overall, I think both Foundations of Ajax and
Ajax in Action are two really good books. If I had to choose
between them, I'd grab Ajax in Action, but I think
they complement each other well. Enjoy!

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