Book Review: Bulletproof Ajax
In: Reviews > Book Reviews
Published on April 10, 2007
DOM Scripting author and bon vivant Jeremy Keith returns to the shelves of your local bookshop with his second book, Bulletproof Ajax—and despite its narrow scope, it’s a worthy addition to your collection.
Who is the book for?
What will I learn?
All of the most common formats of server communication—XML, JSON and HTML—are covered in reasonable depth. But it’s once we get into the nitty-gritty of
The section on data formats has a useful aside on the benefits of third-party APIs offering JSON responses. The chapter on accessibility is disappointingly brief (it’s discouraging to know that all of our current knowledge on AJAX accessibility can fit into a mere ten pages), but it does contain some handy tips on making the most of the tools currently available.
It is tempting to claim that the benefit that anyone may get from reading this book is directly proportional to how closely his or her own approach gels with the ‘Hijax’ method Keith focuses on. But, while it may not be what eager young developers want to hear about this hot new technology, at the core of the book lies a mature and responsible attitude towards AJAX and web development as a whole, which goes beyond any one particular technique. Backwards compatibility, thwarted user expectations, and broken browser features such as bookmarking and the Back button can often be annoyances to developers working on AJAX-enabled applications, but it is clear throughout the book that, for Keith, these concerns are at the core of his philosophy when it comes to adding AJAX functionality to any web page.
This book will not give you the skills to build the next desktop-like web application, full of rich, real-time interaction, but it just might make you think twice about how—and indeed when—to use AJAX.
If you’re happy just knowing the specific syntax of jQuery, Prototype, YUI, or your own library of choice, and care little for what is going on under the hood, then it is easy to dismiss this book as an unnecessarily detailed look at one aspect of a language that has already been abstracted to such an extent that you don’t need to know how it works (just that it does). If this is you, though, think again—simply because the inner workings of the
XMLHttpRequest object may not interest you, do not pass over the bigger picture presented here—that we, as web designers and developers, have a responsibility to build pages and sites that enable and enrich, not frustrate or disenfranchise, our users.