Recommended Books


A student asked me about good JavaScript books for beginners, and two of my friends sent me the following replies, which I've edited.

Bill Edney

For the more "HTML + JavaScript" casual scripter crowd, I always recommend the Peachpit Press book (JavaScript: Visual QuickStart Guide) as I think it does a decent job of covering both:

For the more hardcore JS crowd, David Flanagan has finally brought out a fifth edition of JavaScript: The Definitive Guide after a number of years without an update:

His book covers all of JS, including more advanced topics like Functions as first-class objects and what closures are, in addition to all of the other bits like how to talk to the Flash plugin, etc. etc. etc.

Craig Buchek

Designing with Web Standards—doesn't really cover JavaScript much at all, but provides a good grounding in writing proper HTML and CSS. Teaches you how to best use classes, IDs, and CSS selectors, and talks about the DOM. These skills are essential to being able to make use of JavaScript.

Learning jQuery—I'd actually recommend learning the jQuery library before learning JavaScript. There's a lot you can do with jQuery even before you learn JavaScript, just by following the simple examples and patterns. You'll end up learning some JavaScript from the examples, but won't have to learn everything right away in order to write useful programs. A lot of us learned Ruby on Rails in a similar manner.

DOM Scripting—good as an intro to enhancing web pages. Teaches good practices, like unobtrusive JS (keeping JS and HTML separate) and progressive enhancement. It's a pretty quick read. On the negative side, the book uses some simplistic constructs sometimes, and doesn't set a very good example of extracting repeated code into subroutines.

WebSanity Top Secret