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JavaScript and DHTML Cookbook Danny Goodman
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
540 pages
£ 28.50
Published: 9th May 2003
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the December 2003 issue (pdf), (html)

Having moaned in another review about the ``Hacks'' series, here is a book that really ought to be in it and it isn't. It dives straight in with no preamble and dishes out page after page of code for doing small, but important, hacky things in JavaScript. It tells you about nasty detail like compatibility with browsers and has deeply meaningless titles for the ``recipes'' as the author calls them : ``Doing something with a property of an Object''. What? Nor am I that much wiser after reading the recipe - I can see what's going on but I just don't have enough context to see how or where it would be useful, however, I'm pretty sure that it would be useful to someone somewhere. In fact, it really is a book full of useful code, for all those occasions when your brain dries up and you need a quick fix for a nagging problem. (Always assuming that you do in fact write JavaScript, not something that I personally am in the habit of doing if I can avoid it).

Once you get to the DHTML end of the book, some of the code is getting pretty dense. I assume (and fervently hope) that all the code is downloadable from the net because I shudder to think about having to try to type it in accurately from the book. The Preface talks about downloadable examples, so I am slightly concerned that not everything is available, and there is no CD with the book. Correctly, standards are waved (but not waived) throughout the text, though I think I would have been happier for the author to come out and say ``let's just forget about release 4 browsers and earlier'', it really is time to move on and use appropriate standards wherever we can and let the non-abiders catch up.

This book reminds me of one of those books you buy in specialist bookshops that tell you how to fix your washing machine yourself - not quite as slick as a Haynes manual but really useful. If you really must soil your fingers by dabbling with things like DHTML then this is a book you need to have next to you.

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