Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours, by Phil Ballard and Michael Moncur

by Peter

Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 HoursMost people know of JavaScript, even if they don’t know it or know how to use it. It was originally implemented as part of web browsers so that client-side scripts may interact with the user. It is still mostly used on Web pages, but there are numerous other uses of it as well.

An essential question for a review of this book is the following: Is it really possible to learn JavaScript in 24 hours, as the title indicates?

If I had to answer with «yes» or «no», I would have to say yes: this book actually convinced me of that. Fortunately I don’t have to limit myself to «yes» or «no», and so I can tell you a little bit about what this book teaches you in 24 hours and thus give a somewhat more detailed answer.

Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours uses a modular step-by-step approach. The progression seemed very reasonable and well-thought out. For instance, it starts out with an introduction, but then already in hour 2 it has you writing simple scripts, and then in the third hour moves on to how one uses functions. The fourth and fifth chapters have you working first with objects and then with data. Throughout the book the progression is fast but quite natural and good.

In addition to a well thought-out and implemented progression, the book uses several tools to engage the reader. The first is a solid, concise and informative text. The second is intelligent use of margin notes, a feature I appreciated. The third is use of relatively interesting examples and then showing the results of the code. The fourth is to use examples is such a way that one example often extends and builds on an earlier one. I should also add that readers get access to great interactive online exercises at Codeacademy.

Also, the lessons for each of the hours contain four sections designed to enhance learning: Summary, Q&A, Workshop, and Exercises. And while I said that «yes» it is possible to learn JavaScript in 24 hours, I think it is important to qualify that a little: More precisely, I would say, «yes», provided you actually put in the work; read and think through the Q&A’s, test yourself with the control questions in the Workshops and go back to work more with the text if there is something you have missed; and, finally, provided you actually do the programming tasks assigned in the Exercises to see if you have understood and to actively learn the language!

I was impressed by Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours: The authors even had found room for a section on «Good Coding Practice», and there were sections on HTML5 and jQuery as well. Very nice!

And the lessons – do they really take an hour? My impression is on the average that’s about right. However, if you make mistakes when you work on programming examples, you may spend more time.

So, «yes», you can learn JavaScript in 24 hours if you read the book and put in the time and effort. You will not be a JavaScript expert or a grand master of coding, but you will be able to get things done and you will have a foundation you can build on. You will have started on a perhaps important journey and made solid progress towards a new skill!

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