Book Review: Head Rush Ajax | WebReference

Book Review: Head Rush Ajax

Book Review: Head Rush Ajax


Head Rush Ajax Author: Brett McLaughlin
Total Pages: 446
Publisher: O'Reilly
Copyright: 2006
ISBN: 0596102259
Web Site: Head First Labs

Ajax is a new Web technology that has many people excited. There are many Web sites, blogs and books devoted to the subject. Of the books, some are excellent, some are good, and some are, well, just books. I recently came across a book that I would rate as excellent, although it may take you a little while to get used to it.

The book is Head Rush Ajax, and it's written by Brett McLaughlin. Brett has been around computers for awhile and has written several books on programming. I have to say that Brett's bio in the book made me a fan right away: "Brett is a guitar player who is still struggling with the realization that you can't pay the bills if you're into acoustic fingerstyle blues and jazz, and high-end custom instruments. He's just recently discovered, to his delight, that writing books that help people become better programmers does pay the bills." Ah, reality sets in.

I'll admit it, I'm a pretty routine guy, or perhaps structured is a better word. And that's the way I like my books — structured. When I first received this book, I was a little put off. At first glance, this book appears chaotic. Pictures here, drawings there, handwritten notes all over the pages. I thought, "How does anyone make any sense of this?" When I sat down and began reading the book I realized that my first impression was incorrect. While the appearance seemed chaotic it was really well organized and it made a lot of sense.

As I began to read the book, I was lured into it more and more. It just had a certain way about it. The book is very open about its teaching methods. It uses pictures, repetition, stories, and activities to keep the reader interested. It's written in a conversational style, making for easy reading. It has a humorous aspect but it's not overdone. The combination of these different methods are excellent for learning new techniques and, more importantly, remembering them. That's why it's called a "head rush."

The book is geared to developers who have a background in HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript. You don't need to be a Web guru but you need to have some background experience. The material, however, is not written in a technical style. It's very easy to understand. (I'm guessing, from his writing style, that Brett plays some deep, heart-felt blues on those "custom instruments.")

The book jumps right in with real problems to be solved. As it moves along, different techniques and terminologies are introduced in an easy-to-remember manner. The book progresses into the DOM and building applications to interact with it. Brett handles some very complex subject matter but manages to put the reader at ease with his comfortable writing style. As you read the book, it's similar to a college textbook in which you have already made all the margin notes and noted specific questions, with the answers listed.

A companion Web site is also available to download the code written in the book (although you really should enter it by hand for a better understanding.) Click here to see an excerpt from Head Rush Ajax.

The material presented is first rate and will have you up and running with Ajax in no time at all. It's an exciting way to learn. Your senses will be engaged from the first page ("I laughed, I cried ..."). After this, other books will just seem ... well ... quiet.