Professional jQuery, by Cesar Otero and Rob Larsen

by Peter

Over the last couple of years JavaScript and especially the jQuery library has become increasingly popular. It is now used on many of the most visited websites in the world. There may be many reasons for this; to my mind, the ease of use is a major reason. As a result of this development, there are dozens of introductory texts on jQuery available. Unfortunately, there are as yet relatively few more advanced books on this topic.

Professional jQueryAmong the few more advanced texts available, is Professional jQuery by Cesar Otero and Rob Larsen. Professional jQuery with its 300+ pages is a great book for people like me, who have read several introductory books and have mastered the basics, but really need to learn more to go from being barely able to write jQuery code to becoming proficient at it.

The publisher states that the book is aimed at (1) experienced server-side web application developers looking to move into the client-side using the world’s most popular front-end library, (2) experienced JavaScript programmers looking to ramp up quickly on jQuery, and (3) novice to intermediate jQuery developers looking to expand their jQuery knowledge into more advanced topics. In my opinion, the book is probably most useful to the third group. I, for instance, found a lot of the advice – given in many different contexts, on several subjects – on how to control quality and work in a professional manner very useful. Very experienced programmers already know all that.

In Professional jQuery the authors, Otero and Larsen, cover a wide range of subjects – too wide to describe in detail in this review, and some important to some, others perhaps more important to other programmers. For instance jQuery UI, plugin development, templates, JavaScript design patterns, and unit testing.

The subjects I personally found very interesting were the chapters about jQuery UI – about making things look slick – and “Writing Effective jQuery Code”. I have for quite some time been interested in the principles of effective or efficient CSS, and I liked the arguments and test results provided by Otero and Larsen. In a language where there are many alternative ways to get something done, it is incredibly important to know which of the ways is the best and which produce performance disasters.

I liked Professional jQuery a lot. It has received quite mixed reviews, but I think some of the bad reviews are from people who perhaps are too advanced for this book and who possibly had the wrong set of expectations. This, to me, is a book for advanced beginners or intermediate JavaScript and jQuery programmers – people with good knowledge of HTML and CSS, and who have just started to write jQuery. It is not a book for very advanced users, nor is Professional jQuery (as I believe the title indicates) a book for beginners.

For the right reader this is almost an ideal book – it gives a lot of information on “smart” ways of working with jQuery, is very concerned with quality, optimization and efficiency, and covers a lot of ground. I felt that the emphases were very appropriate. The division of the material into two parts, jQuery Fundamentals and Applied jQuery, also works well. Also, the book is quite well written and has relatively interesting examples. I recommend Professional jQuery – this is a great book for people in the process of learning jQuery who want to take a step up the ladder!

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