By Kevin Yank

The Inevitable AJAX Book

By Kevin Yank

The following is republished from the Tech Times #141.

Perhaps inevitably, SitePoint has published an AJAX book. Build Your Own AJAX Web Applications goes on sale today through, and comes with a free Introduction to AJAX video tutorial by yours truly.

Build Your Own AJAX Web Applications coverI remember hanging out with some of the big players in the computer book publishing world at O’Reilly’s sales conference in Sebastopol last year. One of the reps responsible for selling all of the companies’ products to book stores cornered Matt Mickiewicz and I: "We’ve got six AJAX books coming out in the next three months. Where’s yours?"


Truth be told, SitePoint has never been the first to publish a book on a given subject. We prefer to hang back a little and wait until we have something unique to say.

Thus, you’ll find that Build Your Own AJAX Web Applications is an AJAX book that stands out from the crowd. Where we have seen other books on the subejct fail time and again is in providing an answer to the question of accessibility: how can you produce AJAX applications that don’t disrupt the browser’s navigation tools (i.e. bookmarks and the back button), or leave users of assistive technologies like screen readers in the dark?

I’m proud to work for a publisher where this is the sort of “promotional copy” that makes it onto the covers of our books:

This book will help you build responsible, professional, and robust AJAX applications, enhancing the user experience while ensuring minimal accessibility impact.

Oh sure, in this book you’ll find all the code to produce the slick fades, slides, instant feedback, and drag-and-drop goodness that make any good AJAX application, but all of it is implemented in ways that you can actually deploy in the real world, where backwards compatibility and accessibility are serious concerns.

  • Enoch Root

    Fantastic. I got my email this morning. Can’t wait to get stuck in.

  • I got my email this morning as well, think I’ll be buying this one this weekend! :)

  • Yes, another book for when payday rolls around. I’ve bought so many books lately, I don’t know when I’ll read them lol!

  • SitePoint has never been the first to publish a book on a given subject. We prefer to hang back a little and wait until we have something unique to say.

    Glad to see Sitepoint taking this “ideology” and may I say that from the books I have bought and read; the above statement holds true.

  • Brent Ashley

    I disagree – Sitepoint was definitely the first to press on this subject. Since before 2000, I have regularly scoured bookstores for any book that mentioned Remote Scripting or any related technique, and the first one I ever saw was Stuart Langridge’s DHTML Utopia, which arrived on the shelves at about the same time that Jesse woke the world up to Ajax. Stuart’s book actually covered the techniques because they mattered in the context of a great technical book, not because they were the latest fad upon which to sell hastily published fluff pieces.

  • First time I read about remote scripting was from an ‘ol McGraw Hill book – but who really cares who said it first ;)

    Kevin, I enjoyed your ajax video that came when purchasing the book. Your voice sounds so professional :) As always, I’m sure I’ll enjoy the book.

  • The bonux AJAX video that comes with the book is great!

  • Wait until you see the rest of the videos Kev has been working on!

  • malikyte

    I am a JavaScript antagonist. …or rather, I was before I read DOM Scripting. Darn that book! I would have swore up and down that JS was an evil, obtrusive and extremely difficult-to-get cross browser language with perils left and right. I was still living in 1990 apparently. Now I feel left behind and want to get caught up so since I just went to lunch with some co-workers and still had my wallet, whipped out my credit card and made the purchase.

    I was disappointed in the video, actually. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin did an excellent job and the information was valuable from a viewpoint of knowledge (it’s good to know about those things), but the teaser at the end for the followup somewhat soured what I had just seen. I would have preferred to have seen that video as it would have been more of a companion to the book. I don’t suppose we get that video on mini-CD or something, do we? ;)

    However, I also can’t discredit the fact that we can watch the video instantaneously and the video is definately a good introduction to a book about AJAX.

  • stickycarrots

    I am happy to say I ordered my book today. Had to write a PayPal eCheck though, so I won’t get it until next week :( I’ve got HTML UTOPIA: Designing Without Tables Using CSS still to finish though :P

  • Jim McMahon

    You’d sell more books if you let visitors watch the video free before purchasing. Trust me on that. Why should I (or anyone else) have to purchase your book to see a video that introduces us to AJAX, assuming I’m not really familiar with it? Also, the poster idea is kind of lame. No one would pay $10 for a reference poster for AJAX.

  • Fenrir2

    I would if it were more complete and searchable from my pc :)

  • Sojan80

    These Sample Chapters Rock! I got this email and have sent off for my copy. I Can’t wait!

    My Sitepoint Book collection is starting to rival my Wrox Press collection, which for me is saying a lot. I have like a dozen Wrox I keep on hand “just-in-case”, and I know I have at least 6 Sitepoint’s I keep around also as a “just-in-case.” I find them easy to read and easy to find what I am looking for later on when I need to go back and review…

    If you ever need someone t beta test the code examples within the book I’d be down with that too!

  • Sojan80

    Oh, and as for the poster idea being lame, I’d have to disagree! I use my CSS one quite often as a quick-reference check for various attributes and rules.

    If Sitepoint comes out with an AJAX specific poster I am all over it! I already have the CSS Poster and the JavaScript one, and if they came out with an XML, XSLT, or XHTML one I would probably get those as well!

  • malikyte

    As an aside, the video and poster are free (for the time being) with the book if you order from Sitepoint. I frequently develop code offline however, and if I (for some reason) wanted to look at or review something from the video for reference – in its current form, it doesn’t really help me.

  • dusoft

    I concur – Stuart Langridge’s book was the first to touch the AJAX and Javascript remote scripting…

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  • I’ve never bought a SitePoint book before but I ordered this one and also the DHTML book this morning – it’s time to step-up my javascripting and just from the table of contents of these books alone I think they’ll be useful.

    If not, I have 30 days to return them. Who could say no to that? ;)

    I’ll look forward to your future videos, M. Yank.

  • I frequently develop code offline however, and if I (for some reason) wanted to look at or review something from the video for reference—in its current form, it doesn’t really help me.

    You’ll be happy to know that as we roll out a complete series of video tutorials, we have plans to make higher quality, offline versions of the videos available. We’re still considering how best to do this, however (DVD? downloadable QuickTime movie? something else?).

  • A higher quality Quicktime download would be nice. I have to say though, Kevin, that as an overview your intro video was okay, maybe good for someone who isn’t at all technical, and I’m glad I watched it, but at the same time I’m also glad that I didn’t pay $10 for it. I think had I paid the “retail” price for it I would have been disappointed and felt a little ripped-off that I couldn’t even download the thing to watch offline.

  • Clenard

    Kevin, why not do Quicktime videos, available online? Either way – I’m happy that Sitepoint has finally realized how great Videos are!

    I would also have to agree with the guy above who said “Giving users a chance to see the video would sell more books”. I would definately have to agree.

    I can’t wait to purchase this book! Hopefully you guys get those Videos going soon!

    And remember – “Customers prefer Instant Gratification” – when thinkig about Video choices :-D

  • Kisan

    I ordered the book last week. I hope they had a downloadable version of the video so that I can view it offline.

    Several times I was disturbed by phone calls while viewing the video and I had to re-run the video again.

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