Sunday, June 1, 2008

Book Review: AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications

AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications
by Christian Darie, Bogdan Brinzarea, Filip Chereches-Tosa, Mihal Bucica
Review by Megan Fister, Central Pennsylvania Adobe User Group (CPAUG) - Manager

AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications is the ideal book for those who currently have some PHP, XML, JavaScript and MySQL already under their belt. Little time is spent on the basics of these technologies other than a brief history of the Web and predictions for future Web applications making this book a great segue for those looking to take their basic skills to the next level. The code is well documented and commented so if you are the type of person who prefers to jump right in and work with code, then this book is for you.

The biggest strength of this book is that is provides practical code examples that teaches the
reader how to combine and use these technologies together. Some of the most handy examples are server-enabled form validation, an online chat tool and an RSS feed reader. Even if you only need to know one of these items, though there are plenty more, it's well worth it to pick up this book. No only will you be able to create these applications yourself, but you'll learn best practices and understand the why and how of each program as well. Additionally, the book's companion website is quite good and allows you to download all of the code. This can be especially helpful if you find yourself getting stuck somewhere and want to do a side-by-side comparison of the your code and the book code. There are even five free additional PDF chapters for download including an updated version of Chapter 5 - AJAX Chat - which uses JSON instead of XML.

However, if you're the type of person that is looking for a very concise, step-by-step book, you may find yourself frustrated. Just as its strengths are in letting you jump right into the code, if you're not at the stage where you're comfortable with any of the included technologies, you'll quickly find yourself overwhelmed with a lack of direction and an abundance of code.
Additionally, while the use of bold type clearly indicates emphasis on specific code lines, if anything could improve this book, just for readability's sake, it would color-indicated code.

In conclusion, if you've already gotten your feet wet with PHP, XML, JavaScript and MySQL then AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications will help you get to the next level with real-world code examples and projects. You'll not just "copy code" but gain an understanding as to the "why and how" of creating AJAX Web applications.

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