Professional JavaScript for Web Developers by Nicholas C. Zakas

Professional JavaScript for Web Developers by Nicholas C. Zakas

Write Performant and Efficient Javascript
My review on Amazon

I bought this book the day after I attended a session given by Nicholas Zakas (author) at the Velocity Conference in San Jose this year. He offered some brilliant pointers and techniques on writing Javascript code that performs well and is efficient and stable on all browsers.

The book covers all aspects of Javascript in detail and approaches all subjects with an object-oriented mindset. From language basics (data types, variables, objects, functions) and event handling to the Document Object Model (DOM) and the Browser Object Model (BOM) to error handling and debugging to advanced features (custom events, drag and drop) and offline storage just to name a few. He also talks about AJAX, JSON vs. XML and HTML 5 and the new APIs it's bringing. There is also a brief history of language that is written in a much more informative way that in any other book I've read on the subject.

The book puts a lot of emphasis on performance and efficiency, especially when it comes to scope, memory management and algorithm complexity. You will finally learn and understand what closures are all about. You will know how some statements work in some browsers (IE is always the slowest browser.) You will learn a ton of stuff you won't find anywhere else neither online nor in a book.

There is also a section on best practices including maintainability, performance and deployment that I found especially useful.

If you are not a programmer AND just starting to learn Javascript, get Learning JavaScript, 2nd Edition. Otherwise, this is your book. It is essential in any respectable front-end developer's library.

Building iPhone Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by Jonathan Stark

Building Iphone Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Could have been so much better!
My review on Amazon

First off, the title is completely misleading. Almost every chapter in the book covers how to build iPhone-specific web applications using HTML 5 and CSS3 specs. The last two chapters, and only the last two chapters, address converting these iPhone web apps into iPhone native apps using PhoneGap and then submitting them to the Apple Store. Even then, the information covered  in these two chapters was rudimentary at best.

I probably shouldn't have had such high expectations, but the reputation of both the publisher and the author has always been stellar in my book. A title like, "Introduction to Building iPhone Web Apps and Converting Then to Native Apps using PhoneGap" would have properly prepared me for the content of the book. The content in and of itself is excellent–as an introduction, but nothing more.

So if you're interested in building iPhone web apps, this book is a great starting point. If you're interested in building iPhone native apps with web technologies, this book might be a letdown considering the level of your expertise developing iPhone web apps.

Complete Web Monitoring by Alistair Croll and Sean Power

Complete-Web-Monitoring

Comprehensive, One Stop Shop for Achieving Complete End User Satisfaction
My review on Amazon

This book is ultimately about the End-User. The content of this book is designed to answer the following four questions (in order) about the End-Users:- What did they do?

– How did they do it?
– Why did they do it?
– Could they do it?

To answer the first question, a closer look at data warehouse and web analytics is in order. The authors talk about that in detail, listing tools and services that address various issues often faced in collecting user data. The second question, "how did they do it?" is answered through constant monitoring of your site's usability and engagement, both of which are explained well in this book. The third question is about user interaction and feedback. The authors attempt to answer this question by explaining the process of VOC, or Voice of Customer, and all the details it entails.

The most important content in this book, I believe, is laid out in the three chapters dedicated to answering the fourth question, "could they do it?"

The first chapter talks about Frontend Performance and End-User Experience. The topic of Frontend Performance is relatively new and the list of books dedicated to it is growing rapidly with Steve Souders' books on top of the list.

The second chapter tackles Synthetic Monitoring and its advantages and drawbacks. Following that, the authors move into Real User Monitoring in the third and last chapter attempting to answer this question.

The authors then dedicate what I think is too much content to communities and competitors and how monitoring them can help you better your site. Although the information is useful, I feel it took away from the focus of the book but not too much to be a distraction.

The authors then close the book with a recap and a look at the future of web monitoring. Both chapters are very useful and give a much needed perspective.

All in all, this is an excellent book for any serious web entrepreneur and for all online businesses that hold "User Experience" paramount in their business objectives.