16 Aug

Book Reviews: CoffeeScript and JavaScript Web Applications

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While catching up on my reading backlog, I particularly enjoyed reading two new books I bought recently which I’m going to briefly discuss in this blog post.

1. CoffeeScript – Accelerated JavaScript Development


Cover Image For CoffeeScript

CoffeeScript – Accelerated JavaScript Development, written by Trevor Burnham, gets you up and running with CoffeeScript in no time. This book was recently released by the excellent Pragmatic Programmers which only increased my expectations.  And I must admit that Trevor did a tremendous job explaining the ins and outs of this fairly new programming language. With only a good 120 pages, it’s a very quick read so one is able to start coding away as soon as possible.

The book contains six chapters. The first four chapters basically cover the different language features of CoffeeScript. The last two chapters explain how to use CoffeeScript both on the client-side along with jQuery and the server-side with Node.js. At the end of each chapter there’s an example application (5×5 solitaire) that gets refactored throughout the book as more language features are covered. Every chapter also provides some exercises where you can put your teeth into.

Now, I have to warn you that in order to get the most out of this book, you need to have some decent knowledge of JavaScript. Some of this stuff isn’t trivial and being able to imagine how the underlying JavaScript would look like is almost required.

I highly recommend this book if you want to learn this great little programming language.

2. JavaScript Web Applications


Book cover of JavaScript Web Applications

By the time of this writing, JavaScript Web Applications by Alex MacCaw hasn’t officially been released yet. It’s still in the early release phase which means that there are still a good number of typos in there. That aside, this book contains some rock solid content on how to build client-side JavaScript applications.

This book isn’t about server-side applications with the occasional piece of JavaScript code used in only a couple of web pages. As it’s name implies, this book is all about building MVC applications for the browser using JavaScript.

After the obligatory introductory chapter, chapter 2 up to chapter 6 discuss each part of the MVC pattern and events. The author thoroughly explains each part of this design pattern while implementing his own client-side MVC library. Lots and lots of code here.

Chapter 7 provides a clear explanation on dependency management in JavaScript and how to use module loaders to mitigate this problem. Chapter 8 and 9 cover some of the API’s that come with the upcoming HTML 5 standard, particularly on how to deal with files using JavaScript as well as WebSockets. Chapter 10 deals with testing and debugging. But chapter 11 is definitely my favorite chapter of the book where the author shows a good number of techniques on deploying a JavaScript web application and how to deal with performance. This chapter alone was a real eye opener. Finally, the last three chapters provide an in-depth introduction to three of the most popular open-source client-side JavaScript libraries out there, namely Spine.js, Backbone.js and JavaScriptMVC.

Again I have to warn you that this book is definitely not for JavaScript beginners or the faint of heart. There were times that it even got me scratching my head from time to time. There’s some really neat JavaScript stuff in there, so I highly recommend that you pick up this book some time on your JavaScript learning path.

Happy reading an until next time.

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