Ajax: The Complete Reference

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McGraw Hill Professional, Mar 13, 2008 - Computers - 800 pages
5 Reviews

The Definitive Guide to Ajax Web Application Development

Evolve from the click-and-wait programming pattern to the latest Web 2.0 paradigm using this comprehensive guide to Ajax. Written by Web development expert Thomas Powell, the book lays out every feature of Ajax alongside detailed explanations and real-world code examples.

Ajax: The Complete Reference explains how to create and test Ajax-enabled Web applications using the XMLHttpRequest object as well as alternative JavaScript-based communication mechanisms. You'll explore a variety of sample applications featuring emerging user-interface conventions and build applications that address real-world networking and security issues. A robust communication library is developed throughout the book that enables you to architect flexible Ajax applications. The latest technologies such as Web services, Flash-Ajax integration, client-side templates, Comet, and Offline Access are also covered. Discover the future of Web development today!

  • Work with traditional JavaScript communication approaches like iframes
  • Explore all the quirks and details in the XMLHttpRequest object
  • Handle disparate data formats, including XML, JSON, CSV, YAML, and more
  • Deal with networking issues, including timeouts, retries, response ordering, and a variety of server and content errors
  • Simplify JavaScript programming using open-source Ajax libraries like YUI
  • Secure Ajax applications using authentication, obfuscation, and encryption
  • Implement common Ajax UI patterns such as auto suggest, click-to-edit, and drag-and-drop
  • Solve troubling Ajax architecture problems, including back button, history, and bookmarking issues
  • Learn Ajax's role in Web 2.0 and Web services
  • Explore push style communication using Comet and Flash
  • Discover the future of offline Web application access and operation

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Great book for beginners but as an experienced Ajax developer I also find it quite useful as a reference.

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As the author of the book I am not going to give this full stars. Besides the obvious plug - no book is perfect. I did put some major effort into and have a good sense of what Ajax books tend to talk about, so from my point of view I will tell you what this book is and what it isn't. I really tried to make this book a bit different than what seems to be regurgitated in many other books on the subject.
This is a book about what is unique about Ajax - the communications pattern and its implications. It is not a book about UI effects or front-end concerns that aren't related to Ajax patterns. Considerable time is spent discussing network issues, timeouts, ordering, error conditions, security, data format schemes, same origin, and much more.
During the writing it became clear this is what I had to write about as I became quite frustrated with the degree of detail people provide about XMLHttpRequest and how the network and HTTP acted in more than the most common case. For example, every book shipping at the time of writing discussed using basic HTTP authentication with Ajax. However, clearly they didn't test because it doesn't really work properly in nearly any browser. Likewise setting request headers is all over the place in browsers and there are all sorts of other quirks that you just don't get until you test extensively. This is what the book does, give you lots of details rather than gloss over the basics and assume it all works - it doesn't. Still to this day in 2009 the W3C is trying to write a spec for the object that powers Ajax!
The book uses a library developed for teaching concepts as even nearly 2 years later no shipping library in open source is addressing queueing, network issues, security, etc. to the degree they ought to. This is something I wish I didn't have to do but there was no choice with open source and there still isn't though Dojo is getting quite close. Some of the commercial Ajax offerings did address many of the problems the book discusses but these seem to have fallen into obscurity.
So I can tell you that having reviewed nearly all books before and since on Ajax there is much material here that is unique to this book, but it certainly can't be complete considering the expansion of this topic on a daily basis. In that sense the name is wrong, but don't blame me that's the series name!
Anyway see for yourself and check out the demos at ajaxref.com particularly chapter 4, 6 and 7 and you'll see that there are plenty of details that may surprise you even if you are quite proficient at Ajax.
Comments and suggestions are welcome and I find my students are finding all sorts of interesting details that may make a second edition some day.
p.s. Powerpoints are available for interested students or teachers.


Core Ideas
Applied Ajax
Advanced Topics

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About the author (2008)

Thomas Powell teaches Web development at UCSD. He is the author of HTML & XHTML: The Complete Reference, Fourth Edition, JavaScript: The Complete Reference, Second Edition, and Web Design: The Complete Reference, Second Edition.

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