Book Review: Pragmatic Guide to JavaScript

Pragmatic Guide to JavaScript is the Pragprog’s book by Christophe Porteneuve which I have wanted to read for a while.

I went into this book expecting to read actionable and task focussed book on modern JavaScript, and this book does not disappoint on that count. Using 35 tasks which you are going to need in your browser based JS development, this books teaches required JS techniques.

However I went into the book expecting a framework agnostic approach. This book however is very heavily focussed on Pototype. Initial chapters start as framework agnostic, but they soon turn into Prototype based. [1]

Chapter wise it is:

  • Bread and butter: pure JavaScript
  • The DOM, events, and timers
  • UI tricks
  • Form-fu
  • Talking with the server side
  • Making mashups

Bread and butter: pure JavaScript

Has some basic tasks around managing namespace pollution and named and optional parameters. Framework agnostic.

The DOM, events, and timers

Tasks around getting and manipulating Dom elements. Has examples is Prototype, Jquery, YUI, Dojo and MooTools.

UI tricks

Task around common UI tasks like tooltips, lightboxes and unobtrusive popups. Becomes Prototype based from this point onwards.


Tasks around form validation, conditionally disabling elements and auto-complete.

Talking with the server side

Task around understanding Ajax and cross domain Ajax using JSON-P and other techniques.

Making mashups

Tasks around making mashups using Twitter and Flickr API. Also has discussion and history of various common JS frameworks.

This chapter has sub-chapter on debugging JavaScript using Firebug and other browser specific tools. This is the best text I have read on debugging JavaScript, and if you are working with browser specific JS bugs, this chapter is a must read.

Overall this book is good read if

  1. You work with prototype.
  2. Work with other libraries, but would like to know about debugging JS in various browsers.

It is a pass if

  1. You work with Jquery/Other libraries and want a book tailored to that.
  2. Want a language agnostic book.

Get it here

[1] It tries to get around this problem by putting code on Github and asking people to fork and create other framework translations.

Thank you for reading the Agiliq blog. This article was written by shabda on Dec 26, 2010 in reviews .

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