JavaFX DiMarzioThis book is – as the title says – an introduction to the rich client platform that is JavaFX. JavaFX has developed and matured, and the current version (2.2.4 as I write) is full of very helpful features for Web Developers. The aim of this book, which covers version 1.3 but still is very useful, is to show how JavaFX can easily be used to develop desktop and browser – as well as mobile – applications.

JavaFX is considered the next step in the evolution of Java as a rich client platform. It is especially designed to provide a lightweight, hardware-accelerated Java UI platform for enterprise business applications. In addition, it offers significant advances for developers that have worked with Java: With JavaFX, developers can preserve existing investments by reusing Java libraries.

Some view JavaFX as the next step in the evolution of Java as a rich client platform. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. However, for the moment this platform is much less used than it probably deserves to be. Part of the reason may be the phenomenal success of jQuery. Part of it may be some issues concerning the license: Only parts of JavaFX are open source. The Oracle JavaFX runtime and SDK will continue to be released under the Java Binary Code License.

Be that as it may; JavaFX – A Beginner’s Guide is a good, concise and well written introduction to the JavaFX platform. It has lots of useful examples and also provides a list of Self Test Questions at the end of each chapter to aid in learning.

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Learning Unix for Mac OS X

Learning Unix for Mac OS X” is a thin and fairly well written introduction to Unix on Mac PCs by Dave Taylor and Brian Jepson. The book assumes almost no previous exposure to Unix, and is therefore a fairly easy read. It gives a lot of good background on Unix and lots of, useful Unix commands to get things done deep down below the graphical interface (GUI) on the Mac. As an introduction it is useful, but perhaps even so a little shallow. If you happen to know just a tad bit about Unix, this book may be of very limited use.

I was a bit disappointed by the book. I liked that the authors showed some useful commands – and I did pick up a few new ones reading this book – but I would in addition have liked a little more systematic discussions of the many, many alternatives to basic commands. It also moves very slowly at times.

If all you want is a very brief introduction to Mac OS X, so that you can learn to list files, understand and change file permissions, and the like, Learning Unix for Mac OS X may be the book for you. If you want do go a little further into Unix, there are better alternatives.

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jQuery Cookbook LindleyThe jQuery Cookbook is a little bit different from the format commonly used in O’Reilly’s technology «cookbook» series. While the copyright for the book belongs to Cody Lindley, the chapters of the book are actually written by recognized community experts on jQuery – no less than 19 co-authors, each writing a chapter on some subject they are expert on. This is an interesting and nice format, more frequently used for advanced academic books than for introductory texts such as the jQuery Cookbook, but it works quite well in this setting too.

The jQuery library is rich yet easy to use, and has increasingly gained recognition as a JavaScript library that greatly simplifies the building of rich and interactive web frontends. It is a library that it is easier to get started with than most; and makes it possible to write short useful pieces of code quickly even though it may take years to fully realize its breadth and depth.

The jQuery cookbook contains methods, patterns and practices from 19 community experts, and shows you how to use jQuery in a variety of different situations to develop interesting, complex and high-performance user interfaces.

Query is used by websites big and small, including Google and MSN. jQuery cookbook shows beginning to intermediate developers how to use jQuery efficiently. It is a solid user-friendly book that contains 150+ easy to grasp “recipes”. It is not the most comprehensive resource out there, nor is there anything really groundbreaking here: just great scripts that do 95% of what you need to do in an efficient manner.

As far as I can see, jQuery Cookbook is a very useful book; among the best introductory jQuery texts I have seen. The editor has done a good job at keeping overlap between chapters to a minimum. It’s a good book to keep handy at least for the first six to twelve months while learning jQuery.

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The books in the Head First series are aimed at beginners. This book, dealing with jQuery, is certainly no exception to the rule. head first jQuery
Here you dive straight in to the new and wonderful world of jQuery. The book is organized around a certain progression with respect to learning the various parts and methods of jQuery. To assist in learning, the authors use a variety of tools: examples, images, crosswords, repetition, and exercises.

The basic approach in Head First jQuery is the problem-solution method. As a reader, you are gradually introduced to various methods in jQuery in the context of a series of more or less realistic examples, where clients have problems with their websites and where the problems can to be solved using jQuery. In the process, the reader is then introduced to relevant features both of jQuery and of HTML, CSS and to some extent also JavaScript.

For me, this approach didn’t work too well. I like things to be a little more “scholarly” in presentation, and I felt that the pictures, drawings, and so on “cluttered” the pages, and after a while became a bit of a nuisance to me. Also, I didn’t like the examples all that well; I guess I didn’t feel that they were particularly relevant or interesting.

However, I know that this is a very successful series of books, and I have discussed it with friends who love it. So I guess it is a matter of how you prefer to learn.

That said, the book is very useful. It comes with a set of programs used for the exercises on the book’s web site. It is well written, the discussions of alternate ways of doing things are sober and reasonable, and the book covers a wide range of topics that are relevant to a jQuery beginner. You can learn about using and creating interactive web pages, using unobtrusive scripts, and building cool animations.

If you like the style of the Head First books, and you do the exercises and assignments, I am confident that Head First jQuery by Ryan Benedetti and Ronan Cranley will prove to be a useful book that can help you learn jQuery in a structured and solid fashion!

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Zend Framework – A Beginner’s Guide, by Vikram Vaswani

April 5, 2011

The Zend framework is currently one of the most used frameworks for application development in PHP. It is well-supported and offers a robust and feature-rich set of tools and a living, competent and skilled community of users. This book is a beginner’s guide to the Zend framework. It is, however, important to notice what it […]

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Web Design DeMYSTiFieD, by Wendy Willard – review

December 30, 2010

Website design sounds very hard. And of course it is – if you’re talking about designing the front page of New York Times or CNN or some such page. However, to learn the basics and get started with Web Design is something anybody can do – it’s just a matter of learning the basics in […]

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Great books on PHP and MySQL

December 13, 2010

PHP 6 and MySQL 5 for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide, by Larry Ullman PHP has become more and more popular and important as a Web programming language lately. There are several reasons for this, of course. To my mind, the focus on interactive, dynamic web sites, the Web 2.0 popularity, and the spread […]

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WordPress in Depth, by Bud Smith and Michael McCallister

December 1, 2010

WordPress is an enormously popular free CMS software, used by millions of bloggers: It is in the process of completely out-competing Drupal, Joomla and TypePad as a blogging platform. It is stable, easy to install, easy to use, and has a large and growing community of developers. Also, there are tons of “themes”, “widgets” and […]

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