As you may have noticed if you read this blog on occasion I've been doing quite a bit of work with the jQuery JavaScript library in the last few months. I've kind of fallen into a couple of very client heavy projects and jQuery is turning out to be a key part in these particular projects. jQuery is definitely one of those tools that has got me really excited as it has changed my perspective in Web Development considerably from dreading of doing client development to actually looking forward to applying richer and more interactive client principles.

jQuery is an easy to use JavaScript library, so if you're just raring to go there's really no huge need to first read a book. However, I find that even once you get a bit of time with a tool it almost always pays to check out a few books and see different ways of how the tool can be applied. Over the last few months I've read through three  jQuery books and thought I'd share my thoughts on them here.

jQuery in Action
by Bear Bibeault, Yehuda Katz
Manning Publications (February 7, 2008)

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I've been really impressed with the editorial quality of all Manning books that I've read recently (including Linq in Action and Powershell in Action) as they are just very easy to read and digest. I think the editorial guidelines for the Manning books just work really well with highly annotated code listings that really highlight the key code points effectively as well as the frequent tips and tricks comments that seem to pervade each of these books.

jQuery in Action is the most recent book I've read and I've felt already fairly competent with jQuery. I still found the book a great read read both as a review and as inspiration for boning up on a few areas I've passed by so far in my jQuery usage.

This book works well as an introduction to jQuery as well as good general book to go a little deeper. The authors really provide a very readable introduction to jQuery that was worth reading over regardless of familiarity with jQuery and along the way I definitely picked up a few additional tips that I didn't previous know about. For somebody starting out the introduction and initial overview is fast paced and jam packed with practical information that will get anyone starting out a quick way to get started.

The more detailed chapters are also great in explaining some of the more advanced topics like advanced selectors and filters, sophisticated event handling, and some of the utility functions in an easy to understand manner. I enjoyed the authors' style of raising questions with "But what about this?" and then casually walking through this scenario and explaining how to solve it, which is an effective way to present practical content. It works and makes for a very readable book that you can just breeze through very quickly and pick up and retain a lot of information. To me at least this book was more about usage concepts than syntax and since there's not much to learn or even say about jQuery syntax. With jQuery it's all about finding effective use cases to put the power of the library to work and this is exactly what this book works well for.

Each chapter has examples that you can play with and some of which include very cool helper code that you might find useful. It's worth it to download and check out the samples and see how even some of the side line stuff that isn't discussed in the book is provided. The examples are often fun and short enough not to be painful to follow.

This book also includes a very short but useful "what you need to know" JavaScript section which is useful for those that have not kept up with JavaScript. I know it wasn't long ago that JavaScript was nothing more than a necessary evil to me and so a quick introduction might be handy, especially if you're an ASP.NET developer who stays mainly on the server. It's certainly not all inclusive, but focuses on the concepts that are relevant to effective jQuery usage and so right on target.

This is another great offering by Manning. So far Manning is 4 out 4 for me and the books I've picked up!

jQuery Reference Guide
by Karl Swedberg, Jonathan Chaffer
Packt Publishing (August 3, 2007)

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I picked this book very early on when I was starting with jQuery and although the jQuery site is very good about providing documentation I used the hell out of this book when looking for more information on how to apply functionality. This book is a no non-sense reference book (and it's based on jQuery 1.2.0 so it's slightly behind), but it includes additional information that you can't find in the jQuery docs. Some of the examples clearly demonstrate functionality of the jQuery library including many of the various overloads available on many jQuery functions which is often omitted in the online docs. I've found the choice of examples practical and usually found exactly a match what I was looking for. As reference guide this book is quite useful when starting out with jQuery.

When I'm heads down working on code I actually still prefer a paper reference and this is the book I turn to most of the time (although less now that I've used jQuery for quite some time <g>). This book fits that bill.

Learning jQuery: Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques
by Karl Swedberg, Jonathan Chaffer
Packt Publishing (June 29, 2007)

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From the same authors of the above reference comes this book which is an introduction to jQuery. Like the jQuery in Action book this is also an all-around book that demonstrates with a lot of different examples. One thing that sets this book apart from the JIA is that it deals a lot more with design related issues and so talks a lot about CSS and layout manipulation which is actually something where I am myself a little weak and so quite a bit of code that was helpful for me. This book also reads very nicely and it's not very big (but expensive) so you can get through it quickly. One thing that would have helped this book is more illustrations to demonstrate results from some of the samples, but this is a relatively minor issue.

I don't think one can go wrong either with the jQuery in Action or Learning jQuery. Both books provide a well rounded introduction to jQuery from the perspective of someone not terribly familiar with JavaScript. If you are are already a hardcore JavaScript user then you're probably just as happy skipping either of these books and just jump directly into the jQuery documentation and get going and figure out the rest on your own.

 

But both books are great for inspiring perhaps different usage of jQuery to get ideas how to apply this library in a variety of different scenarios. It always helps to read up on a tool you're using regardless what your skill level. Sometimes reading can reinforce topics that you're weak on (like design related stuff for me for example) and there are always bound to be different ways to doing things that might be more optimized than what you're doing today. I've found all three of these books fun to read and learn a few things from.

jQuery Cheat Sheets

Now that I'm pretty comfortable with jQuery I also use cheat sheets quite a bit and there are a couple of nice ones available. The first one is a full color PNG sheet that you can print and  that nicely delineates the various groups of functions that jQuery provides:

http://shrinkster.com/y65

Another simpler black and white version that might be easier to print on a non-color printer:

http://shrinkster.com/y68

I take these cheat sheets and pasted one of them into my Visibone Browser Html Reference so I have it always with me. BTW, slightly off topic, the Visibone reference is THE shit for quick JavaScript, DOM, CSS and HTML reference especially when I'm on the road and don't have my books or a connection around. Even with the Internet handy Visibone provides me reference faster than anything else, unless I need more detail. With one of the jQuery sheets pasted in I have all client related reference material at my finger tips now. Highly recommended!