found drama

get oblique

my new JavaScript vade mecum

by Rob Friesel

While I was reading this, I liked to imagine that I was at university and that Douglas Crockford was the insanely popular genius professor that showed up late for lectures, and then either spoke too fast or else mumbled a lot, and then locked himself in his office refusing to answer the door during office hours while he worked on his Next Big Thing that would make everyone oooh and aaah and validate his brilliance.  Meanwhile, in that same imaginary university, Nicholas Zakas was the graduate student that served as the TA to that class—and he happened to be equally brilliant and super-accessible and willing to take the time out to explain it all in a way that was thorough and comprehensible.

So that being said, if you consider yourself or would like to consider yourself a professional front-end engineer for web applications (or in any way want to become a JavaScript expert), I cannot recommend this book enough.  On the one hand, you have Crockford’s The Good Parts—which does a great job of eviscerating JavaScript while at the same time extracting its (well…) its Good Parts—but it’s like someone ran the text through a minification utility and made it tokenized and super-dense and stripped out all the comments.  And on the other hand, you have Zakas’ Professional JavaScript for Web Developers which one might describe as The Good Parts (the long version).

What Zakas gives us—while assuming that you are already doing some professional JavaScript web development—is a good overview of JavaScript/ECMAScript, with special care given to make the text practical.  This is not strictly an academic exercise; he is careful to make sure that each example applies to real world scenarios (i.e., web apps running in a browser) and that you are able to take away something useful and meaningful from the text’s discussion.  In other words, he provides a road map for how to make the most of JavaScript as a language[1] and how to make it work in all the convoluted, counter-intuitive situations that you are basically guaranteed to encounter[2].

In a nutshell, if you are doing professional web development on the front end, this book needs to be on your desk.  I can’t wait to check out his next book[3]

BONUS ROUND: Zakas says that Wrox has made this book available as a DRM-free ebook.

DOUBLE BONUS ROUND: Apparently, I made the man laugh.

TRIPLE BONUS ROUND: Shout from the man himself, albeit with a pointer to this review as it appears on Amazon.

  1. …since, as a front-end engineer on the web, you’re stuck with it. []
  2. Even if you don’t expect to ever work with XML.  Even if you do think that the JavaScript 2 and ECMAScript 4 stuff is a little too future-forward/in-the-weeds type stuff. []
  3. Reading this before Feburary 24, 2010?  Sign up for your chance at a free copy! []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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