jQuery 1.4 Reference Guide by Karl Swedberg and Jonathan Chaffer


I don’t write many book reviews, but when Packt Publishing contacted me recently asking if I would like to review the newly released jQuery 1.4 Reference Guide, I agreed. Even though I prefer online documentation, many people prefer theirs printed out, so I figured that I’d review the book for them. Also, I’m bringing the copy that Packt sent me into the office today for my coworkers to use.

Make no mistake, this is a reference book (in case you thought the title was just a catchy play on words). While documentation, explanations and code samples abound, there are no tutorials present in the book. If you want recommendations on choosing one approach over another in order to solve a specific problem, you should buy one of the many available tutorial books.

Every single API method that was available at the time of jQuery 1.4 release appears to be documented here, organized into logical chapters for Selectors, DOM traversal, DOM manipulation, Events, Effects, AJAX, and Plugin development, among other things. The aforementioned code samples are thorough, and the explanations are comprehensive, including images where appropriate. I didn’t actually attempt to verify that every jQuery method was included, but since the book is co-written by a jQuery team member I’m going to assume it’s complete.

Of course, just like any other printed reference book, this book is susceptible to becoming out-of-date due to post-release API changes, and as such doesn’t mention the .delegate and .undelegate methods introduced in jQuery 1.4.2. Of course, this kind of thing is to be expected in a printed book describing the API of a framework that is undergoing constant development.

In talking with Karl Swedberg, co-author of the book, I was informed that a percentage of the proceeds from book sales are actually given to the jQuery project. In addition, working with the Software Freedom Conservancy, Packt Publishing gave permission for the jQuery project to port the contents of the book over to the official online API documentation website, api.jquery.com. This website is kept up-to-date with the latest API changes and easily searchable, so I’d recommend bookmarking it (or its excellent derivative, jQAPI).

One thing I especially liked was the list of recommended JavaScript, jQuery, HTML and CSS references, useful blogs to read, and development tools included at the end of the book. I think this is a great idea, and I’d really like to see it implemented on the main jQuery site. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be the guy that maintained it. But I still think it’s a good idea.

Either way, if you use jQuery and like printed reference books, you should buy a copy of the jQuery 1.4 Reference Guide because a) it’s the official jQuery 1.4 reference guide and b) buying it helps out the jQuery project. Stick it on the shelf next to those ActionScript 2.0 and Perl 4 reference books, but also be sure to bookmark the official jQuery API documentation site, because when the API changes, that hard copy sitting on your shelf isn’t going to.

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