Javascript Step-By-Step is an introductory Javascript book. It covers the very basics from Javascript syntax and usage to more advanced topics such as AJAX and JQuery. Unfortunately by covering so much it delivers little of use.  One of the key refrains is “however, learning how to do that is beyond the scope of this book”.

Since O’Reilly requests these reviews be kept to 200 words, I’ll tackle this mostly in bullet points.
The lousy: 

  • Suggesting the use of Visual Studio or Eclipse is overkill and may put off beginning programmers. And the instructions for setting them up were wrong.
  • Regular expressions are introduced before almost anything else. Regular expressions are hard to do right even with experience. They are seldom the best solution and introducing them so early was a mistake
  • 2011-02-25: Since my review, O’Reilly has released a new version of the PDF with much improved images. Comparison below. The new PDF weighs in at 9.86mb while the older one is 5.67mb. The increased size is worth it.The image compression in the free PDF version I received from O’Reilly in order to do this review was so high that the screenshots were frequently unreadable. I can only hope the print version is of higher quality. (This is exactly what it looks like in the PDF).
    • Old
    • New

The not so lousy:

  • I appreciated the way concepts were often shown in the way you might solve it as a naive programmer. Then the code was evolved to show better, less obvious ways to accomplish the same thing.
  • The coverage of JQuery and JQueryUI were very helpful and appreciated. It felt like the whole book was just leading up to these two chapters. It was the first time you could feel the author’s enthusiasm for the subject.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend this book. It just isn’t a great guide to the specifics of the language or the techniques of using it. I’d be hard pressed to build a working application with the information contained here. Perhaps it is just my personality, but I much prefer a book where an actual project is built. This was just bits and pieces chapter after chapter with no common thread tying them together.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Full disclosure: If it wasn’t obvious I received a free PDF version of this book for free in exchange for writing this review. I’ve followed the review guidelines set by O’Reilly. Especially (and always) “First and foremost, we want nothing but complete honesty in your reviews”.


2 Comments on Review: JavaScript Step-By-Step, 2nd Edition by Steve Suehring

  1. Dad says:

    Josh, you know I love you, but I have to disagree with your review. This book has changed my life and is by far the best piece of literature I have read in the past 60 years.

    Please read again and adjust your review.

  2. Joshua says:

    Ah, so this is where I get my sense of humor…If you check a calendar I think you’ll see that you aren’t yet 60, so unless you started reading in the womb (and Grandma never mentioned that)….

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