pankaj_kumar writes "A number of AJAX libraries and frameworks have emerged to purportedly simplify development of rich Internet Apps. None of them however can substitute a good understanding of what the recurring problems are, the potential solutions and what goes on behind the sleek facade of a browser to power these Apps . Michael Mahemoff, author of Ajax Design Patterns, said this best in his blog which became a popular wiki entry and later, this book." Read the rest of Pankaj's review.
The Ajax Design Patterns book, with its more than 70 design patterns, documented in more than 600 pages with encyclopedic detail, is very effective in presenting the AJAX programming knowledge in a reader friendly format. In the spirit of seminal GoF Design Patterns work, it captures the essence of each of the topics with problem solving approach — first stating the problem in general terms and then presenting the solution, outlining the approach and discussing variations, alternatives, trade-offs and even listing actual uses in real applications. Btw, if you noticed I used the term topics in the previous sentence to refer to its 70+ "knowledge modules" and not patterns, mostly because I wouldn't categorize all of them as patterns. However, this disagreement on terminology doesn't take away anything from their practical usefulness and, for sake of consistency, I would continue calling them "design patterns".
The book categorises the design patterns as Foundational Technology Patterns (those related to repainting the user interface, browser and web server communication, and event handling), Programming Patterns (those related to programming aspects of either end, browser or the service, of the application), Functionality and Usability Patterns (those related to functional widgets such as slider, data grid, progress indicator etc., page layout, visual effects and so on) and Development Patterns (those related to debugging and testing). Of course, the real value is in the details of each pattern, and not just the high level categorization or overview.
So far I have only been talking about things that I liked but there are some things I would consider weak spots. I noticed a few minor typographical issues with certain code fragments, but they are rarely serious. For example the first code fragment on page 96 has uses variable requestTimer to store the return value of setTimeout() and then uses variable requestTimeout as argument to clearTimeout().
Another thing I found a bit annoying at times is presence of a lot of URLs all over the text with hints too brief to allow uninterrupted reading away from the computer. I would have preferred numbered footnotes, either in each page or at the end of each pattern, with URLs and a brief summary of its contents. Usually I read printed books when away from the computer and do not wish to go to the computer and type-in the URLs to just understand what is being said in the text. Although immensely helpful during online viewing, the embedded URLs are a hinderance during offline reading. This is one area where the structure of printed content should be different from the online content.
Overall, I would recommend the Ajax Design Patterns to all those who work or aspire to work on web development projects as an excellent reading and reference resource.
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