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  1. #1
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    Best beginner book for javascript?

    Hi,

    Let me say first that I am not a programmer, I own an online business. I am looking to understand javascript enough that I can speak with my programmers more easily and give better instructions. With that in mind, what is a good book for learning javascript at the beginner level? I greatly prefer books to online resources so really want to go with that route.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    SitePoint Enthusiast MetalHippy's Avatar
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    Sitepoints Simply Javascript is quite good, might be worth a look.

    Hope this helps.

    Mike
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  3. #3
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    Hi,

    For a free starter in javascript, have a look at the tutorials on w3schools.com, worked well for me.

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    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonBoy View Post
    Hi,

    For a free starter in javascript, have a look at the tutorials on w3schools.com, worked well for me.
    I'd suggest avoiding w3schools as it is getting rather dated and doesn't properly cover all the latest ideas.

    For books you could try one of these:

    Head First JavaScript - Author: Michael Morrison - Published by O'Reilly Media
    Simply JavaScript - Authors Kevin Yank and Cameron Adams - Published by Sitepoint
    Learning JavaScript - Author: Shelley Powers - Published by O'Reilly Media

    Those are the best three beginners JavaScript books I have come across.
    Stephen J Chapman

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    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delta223 View Post
    Hi,

    Let me say first that I am not a programmer, I own an online business. I am looking to understand javascript enough that I can speak with my programmers more easily and give better instructions. With that in mind, what is a good book for learning javascript at the beginner level? I greatly prefer books to online resources so really want to go with that route.

    Thanks
    I'm reading Simply Javascript. Seems pretty good so far.
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
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  6. #6
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    i started out with the sitepoint book, but i got better results by enrolling in a course (obviously). anyways the class uses the book of javascript. it's more of a practical way of moving through the different concepts.

    both are good, but the sitepoint one gives a better overview of the language and includes info on the frameworks. i just think it jumped into loops and that stuff too early on.

  7. #7
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    I would be second for reading the "Head First" series... While SitePoint's books are excellent for intermediate users (I tend to go with APress (FriendsOfED), O'Reilly or Peachpit (Voices That Matter) for more technology specific or heavily advanced books) The Head First series really have surprised me at their suitability for people who probably have no inherent knowledge of anything web related. There are some good books by other publishers for absolute beginners however if your a visual example based learner I have to say that the Head First books are pretty much the best thing going (thus far).

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy
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    I remember reading DOM Scripting and really liking it...
    http://domscripting.com/book/

  9. #9
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtunes View Post
    anyways the class uses the book of javascript. it's more of a practical way of moving through the different concepts. .
    The biggest problem with that book is that it teaches JavaScript the way you had to write it when JavaScript first came out and the book hasn't been updated to cover the sorts of things that more modern browsers such as Netscape 4 and IE4 allow you to do (not to mention the complete from the ground up reworking of JavaScript that took place after that).

    So after learning JavaScript from that book your next step in learning JavaScript properly is to forget all you've learnt and start over again. That is definitely the worst possible choice of book for learning JavaScript unless you intend to hop in a time machine and travel back in time by ten years or so to when JavaScript actually worked that way.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  10. #10
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Cooper, while DOM Scripting is a fantastic book, it's not aimed at beginners, it expects a high level of knowledge of HTML and CSS and while it does explain the basics of JavaScript, it only underlines the principles so that intermediate users can focus entirely on the DOM, so it's probably not the best choice!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    The biggest problem with that book is that it teaches JavaScript the way you had to write it when JavaScript first came out and the book hasn't been updated to cover the sorts of things that more modern browsers such as Netscape 4 and IE4 allow you to do (not to mention the complete from the ground up reworking of JavaScript that took place after that).

    So after learning JavaScript from that book your next step in learning JavaScript properly is to forget all you've learnt and start over again. That is definitely the worst possible choice of book for learning JavaScript unless you intend to hop in a time machine and travel back in time by ten years or so to when JavaScript actually worked that way.
    are you sure about that? i have been using the 2nd edition - it includes chapters on ajax using references to things like google maps.

  12. #12
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtunes View Post
    are you sure about that? i have been using the 2nd edition - it includes chapters on ajax using references to things like google maps.
    If I'd had more time available a couple of years ago when that book first came out I had things all lined up with the publisher who wanted me to write a replacement book after they agreed with my assessment that the second edition of the book had just tacked a few modern references on without updating any of the antiquated code elsewhere in the book. I was just about to sign the contract to write the replacement book when i realised that there was no way I'd be able to get it done in the timeframe. So yes I am sure about how antiquated that second edition is.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    If I'd had more time available a couple of years ago when that book first came out I had things all lined up with the publisher who wanted me to write a replacement book after they agreed with my assessment that the second edition of the book had just tacked a few modern references on without updating any of the antiquated code elsewhere in the book.
    ok well i'm still not certain if you've read this version of the book - if this is indeed the case it is worth knowing if i've been taught antiquated practices.

    but as it stands it just looks like i'm getting ridiculed for saying that i like this book better than the Sitepoint one for beginners.

  14. #14
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    also there is a version here that looks pretty much like the one we've been working off of. our class focused on chapters 1 - 12, so if you can give me an example of something that i've learned that is really out of date, that would be good.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist Dave Morton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtunes View Post
    ok well i'm still not certain if you've read this version of the book - if this is indeed the case it is worth knowing if i've been taught antiquated practices.

    but as it stands it just looks like i'm getting ridiculed for saying that i like this book better than the Sitepoint one for beginners.
    Quote Originally Posted by mrtunes View Post
    also there is a version here ...
    Not to worry, Tunes. Given the nature of the web, it's entirely possible to read something that was published last week and have it turn out to be obsolete next week. And BTW, that link you gave told me I was either looking for a non-existent book, or that I had reached my viewing limit.

    Anyway, I'm certain that all the titles listed above are MUCH better beginner's books than MY first JS book, which was O'Reilly's "JavaScript: The Definitive Guide". I'll tell ya, it's a GREAT book... for Intermediate to advanced students. That thing gave me a headache for a year.
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  16. #16
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtunes View Post
    if you can give me an example of something that i've learned that is really out of date, that would be good.
    To start with on page 9 it has a tag <script language="javascript"> and there is no such HTML tag any more. The language attribute is only valid for server side languages. JavaScript should be attached using <script type="text/javascript"> although even that is deprecated (although you still can't use the correct <script type="application/javascript"> because IE doesn't recognise that properly).

    I mention a few more issues in my book review at http://javascript.about.com/od/reviews/gr/bookjs.htm
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  17. #17
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    Not sure if it's an absolute beginners choice, but as a relative novice I've found one of the titles Felgal reviewed, Professional Javascript for web devlopers 2nd Edition (Nicholas C.Zakas) to be very good.

    What about javascript, A Beginner's Guide Third Edition (2009) by John Pollock? The second edition albeit outdated was a pretty easy going learning exercise.

    RLM

  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast DavidChildress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    I'd suggest avoiding w3schools as it is getting rather dated and doesn't properly cover all the latest ideas.

    For books you could try one of these:

    Head First JavaScript - Author: Michael Morrison - Published by O'Reilly Media
    Simply JavaScript - Authors Kevin Yank and Cameron Adams - Published by Sitepoint
    Learning JavaScript - Author: Shelley Powers - Published by O'Reilly Media

    Those are the best three beginners JavaScript books I have come across.
    I'm reading/studying "Head First Javascript" and "Simply Javascript" at the moment.

    I find "Head First Javascript" to be a very, very good teaching approach... the author also wrote the "SAMS Teach Yourself HTML in 24 Hours" book.

    The author of the HTML book that I like the most is Patrick Carey...

    He is coming out with a new Javascript book within the next two weeks.

    I'm hoping Felgall does a review of it at his about.com site - regardless of Chapman's review, I'm purchasing the Carey "Javascript" text anyway since it is COMPLETELY step-by-step tutorial AND I HOPEFULLY will have gleaned enough knowledge from the two Javascript books that I am studying now to work around any errors.

    The New Perspectives Series also offers "case-based" exercise sets subsequent to the completion of each tutorial; to wit,
    • 1 chapter REVIEW case-based exercise
    • 4 additional case-based exercises with each of the succeeding exercises a little more dificult than the first


    Different people learn in different ways... I feel that the "Head First" and "New Perspectives" pedagogy suits me best.

    I'm glad that there is a forum with knowledgable people like Alex, Steven Chapman(Felgall) and the others willing to take the time to review these texts and offer us beginners their "insights" AS WELL AS "admonitions/warnings"

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast DavidChildress's Avatar
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    Felgall's review of Murach's JavaScript and DOM Scripting


    This is a book I'll definitely look at after I have FIRST AQUIRED a good knowledge of Javascript myself... perhaps, I'll write a review of it someday

    Felgall gave this book a TERRIBLE REVIEW at his about.com site


    I sent Felgall's review to Murach Publishing and Mike Murach himself wrote back three times taking issue with Felgall's criticisms but citing only a few specifics.

    Here is some of what Mike Murach wrote to me...

    Hi David,



    Thanks for the heads-up on this review.



    Our author has responded to the reviewer with the hope that the reviewer will correct his many misstatements (like you should never use a for-in loop with an array or that you shouldn’t use ParseInt or Parsefloat to convert strings to numbers). But we’ll see what happens.



    If you’ve used any of our other books, you know that we thoroughly test every example and application that our books present. In fact, every application in our JavaScript book was tested on five different browsers. So to say that the code in our books doesn’t work is really way out of line.



    Anyway, the good reviews are starting to come in, so this one review probably won’t hurt us much.
    Well, if it's a BAD BOOK it would seem the ones who would be hurt would be the ones who presented Javascript code taught in this fashion to their immediate supervisor.

    I don't have enough knowledge of Javascript myself so I'm putting off studying this book towards the end of my Javascript training




    In another e-mail Murach wrote that he felt his author (Ray Harris) was more of an "expert" than Felgall, but in that e-mail he cited NO SPECIFICS.

    And there lies the crux of the problem...

    ..Felgall makes specific criticisms in his NEGATIVE REVIEW of the Murach Javascript book.




    If Felgall is willing to indulge the SitePoint readership

    1) I'd like to know what issues/SPECIFICS, if any Ray Harris raised with him and

    2) Felgall's response, if any.


    This is not a small issue... when I first sent Felgall's review to Murach there were no amazon.com "customer reviews"... now there are 14 customer reviews (13 "5-star reviews" and 1 "4-star review").

    The book price is reasonable but it is a long 764-page read/study...

    If in these "customer reviews", "the blind are leadiing the blind", as it were, then this subforum at SitePoint would be a good place to have the issue settled

    I'm not certain if Ray Harris was aware of it...but at Felgall's/Chapman's about.com "Javascript" site there was a link available where he could have taken issue with Felgall's criticisms

  20. #20
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidChildress View Post
    ..Felgall makes specific criticisms in his NEGATIVE REVIEW of the Murach Javascript book.

    I'm not certain if Ray Harris was aware of it...but at Felgall's/Chapman's about.com "Javascript" site there was a link available where he could have taken issue with Felgall's criticisms
    I did have a discussion with Ray Harris regarding some of the criticisms that I had made that turned out to be incorrect (due to my having misunderstood just what was going on with some of the really obscure javaScript that the book was presenting - I had thought that it was supposed to be a beginners book and so wasn't expecting the advanced techniques used). I then updated my review to remove the info that was wrong and actually increased my rating of the book.

    My review of the book is specifically with regard to the books appropriateness as a first book for people to learn JavaScript from - a purpose I do not believe that book fills at all well. That does not mean that it is not a good book for someone with intermediate JavaScript skills. Had I been writing the review from an intermediate JavaScript programmer viewpoint then my main complaint would have been the space wasted on introducing all the things that the reader should already know. There are lots of useful ideas relating to advanced techniques in that book.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard Blake Tallos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidChildress View Post
    Felgall's review of Murach's JavaScript and DOM Scripting


    This is a book I'll definitely look at after I have FIRST AQUIRED a good knowledge of Javascript myself... perhaps, I'll write a review of it someday

    Felgall gave this book a TERRIBLE REVIEW at his about.com site


    I sent Felgall's review to Murach Publishing and Mike Murach himself wrote back three times taking issue with Felgall's criticisms but citing only a few specifics.

    Here is some of what Mike Murach wrote to me...



    Well, if it's a BAD BOOK it would seem the ones who would be hurt would be the ones who presented Javascript code taught in this fashion to their immediate supervisor.

    I don't have enough knowledge of Javascript myself so I'm putting off studying this book towards the end of my Javascript training




    In another e-mail Murach wrote that he felt his author (Ray Harris) was more of an "expert" than Felgall, but in that e-mail he cited NO SPECIFICS.

    And there lies the crux of the problem...

    ..Felgall makes specific criticisms in his NEGATIVE REVIEW of the Murach Javascript book.




    If Felgall is willing to indulge the SitePoint readership

    1) I'd like to know what issues/SPECIFICS, if any Ray Harris raised with him and

    2) Felgall's response, if any.


    This is not a small issue... when I first sent Felgall's review to Murach there were no amazon.com "customer reviews"... now there are 14 customer reviews (13 "5-star reviews" and 1 "4-star review").

    The book price is reasonable but it is a long 764-page read/study...

    If in these "customer reviews", "the blind are leadiing the blind", as it were, then this subforum at SitePoint would be a good place to have the issue settled

    I'm not certain if Ray Harris was aware of it...but at Felgall's/Chapman's about.com "Javascript" site there was a link available where he could have taken issue with Felgall's criticisms
    Wow, get some perspective.
    Blake Tallos - Software Engineer for Sanctuary
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  22. #22
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    To further put my review of that particulasr Murach book into perspective, I purchased several Murach books back in the 1980s that are amongst the most worn books on my bookshelf having been used more than almost any other book that I have. Perhaps that means I have a slightly higher expectation of top quality from Murach books compared to my expectations of other publishers.

    The biggest flaw that I have seen in any Murach book is where it tries to be something that it is not. That particular JavaScript book would only need a minor rewrite to convert it into an excellent book for intermediate JavaScript programmers. I had very high expectations for that book prior to receiving a copy and was rather disappointed in it - especially since when I first reviewed it I was looking at it purely from a "how useful is this to teach JavaScript to beginners" perspective. After the feedback that I got from the author I looked at the book again and could see how useful that the material in the book actually is to an intermediate to advanced JavaScript programmer once you ignore the chapters that introduce all the basics that anyone who could really benefit from the book would already know.

    The "Book of JavaScript" on the other hand is so full of outdated info that only a complete rewrite could fix it and writing a completely new book would be a simpler solution (I really wish I could have found the time to actually do that). In that particular case the contact that I had was from the publisher (although I didn't know who he was until after he asked me if I wanted to write a third edition of that book or to write a replacement book).

    Another aspect to the reviews that I do is that I try to compare the usefulness of the books as compared to other books intended for the same purpose. There would be little point served in my giving a top rating to all the books that I review as then there would be no basis for anyone to choose between them plus the rating would then have no value. Because I very rarely give the higest rating to any of the books that I review that makes it much clearer that when I do give it that I consider the book to deserve it.

    The other thing that I try to do is to be specific when I list what I think is wrong with a particular book. In the case of the Murach book a couple of the things I listed turned out to be incorrect because I had misunderstood something in the book. When this was pointed out to me I corrected my review. One thing related to this though is that if I could misunderstand something in the book like that then how likely would it be for someone just learning JavaScript to understand it correctly? A big part of the reason for my misunderstanding in that instance was that the book was presented as being for JavaScript beginners and so I wasn't looking for advanced concepts buried in the sample code.
    Stephen J Chapman

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  23. #23
    SitePoint Enthusiast DavidChildress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlakeAnthony View Post
    Wow, get some perspective.
    I'll try to do my best, Blake

  24. #24
    SitePoint Enthusiast DavidChildress's Avatar
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    Thanks, Felgall...

    I'm guessing you have "a lot on your [dinner] plate", as it were, in terms of things you have to accomplish.

    If Patrick Carey's new Javascript book comes your way, perhaps you could give us your opinion... you undoubtedly would qualify to receive an "evaluation copy" from course.com

    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    To further put my review of that particulasr Murach book into perspective, I purchased several Murach books back in the 1980s that are amongst the most worn books on my bookshelf having been used more than almost any other book that I have. Perhaps that means I have a slightly higher expectation of top quality from Murach books compared to my expectations of other publishers.

    ......

    The other thing that I try to do is to be specific when I list what I think is wrong with a particular book. In the case of the Murach book a couple of the things I listed turned out to be incorrect because I had misunderstood something in the book. When this was pointed out to me I corrected my review. One thing related to this though is that if I could misunderstand something in the book like that then how likely would it be for someone just learning JavaScript to understand it correctly? A big part of the reason for my misunderstanding in that instance was that the book was presented as being for JavaScript beginners and so I wasn't looking for advanced concepts buried in the sample code.

  25. #25
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    The O'Reilly book "Learning Javascript" is one I would comfortably recommend. The Javascript Anthology (here at Sitepoint) is a book I really like too but it is not really for beginners.

    My two cents on this is that finding a good book (or other reference) is all about solving the problems that you wish to solve. My own issue with books for beginners is that once you learn the basics they are rarely of much use.

    floater


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