October 9

Developing Responsive Web Applications with AJAX and jQuery Review

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Book available for puchase at PacktPub.com

You can develop web applications in so many ways and this book teaches you how with the most popular front-end library, jQuery and AJAX. Initially I was excited to find out if it’s possible to build a responsive web application only with jQuery and Ajax, but you still need a back-end. In this case, the author uses Tomcat to run a java server as the back-end. You might be surprised that all the source code files are in the txt extension along with one war file. Then I realized uncompressing the war file will output all the proper files to open the website without some java-based IDE. A non-java developer might not be able to figure that out right away, so the book is definitely targeted for java developers who want to learn the front-end.

Even though it’s possible to open the source code locally into a browser, it won’t be fully functional without running Tomcat. As a front-end developer I have read through all the examples and they are coded well, including comments, to demonstrate getting data from 3rd party APIs such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Paypal. After having read through the book, it appears that more of the examples demonstrate usage of APIs rather than responsiveness. The early chapters do include details on responsive-making elements such as media queries, layouts, and the opera testing emulator, yet the author just uses Twitter Bootstrap for his app. I liked that the book includes good resources such as Draw.io and a few important CSS properties not seen in other books such as the text-overflow: ellipsis.

I’m not too surprised about a lack of “developing responsive” part because of Bootstrap 3’s popularity, most of the “responsiveness” is already done for you. Therefore I would prefer to call this book “Developing Web Applications with jQuery, AJAX, and popular APIs”. It is a great book and I enjoyed the examples, source code, screenshots, and quality diagrams which are included across all chapters. Although why include only the Opera Mobile emulator? Opera’s usage lacks far behind Chrome, Firefox and Safari, therefore the author should have used either Chrome’s built-in emulator tool or even Safari’s dev tools for the responsive part.

Overall it seems like the author has done his research and picked out the most popular components for developing a basic web application. The API chapters guide you through the account setup process to get the necessary credentials and even if you don’t setup your own the author includes them in the examples. Ajax nuances are explained such as callbacks and promises while relying heavily on the data-role, data-“insert name” HTML attributes for behaviors. The sections that were lacking in detail were about responsive testing, where the author threw out several options/websites to do your testing without giving specific details of why I should choose one over the other. I would also be curious to find a “responsive web application” book that chooses a different framework over Bootstrap.

You don’t have to be a java developer to benefit from this book, but either way you’ll learn a lot especially if you need to build a the front-end of a responsive web application.


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Posted October 9, 2014 by Tom in category "Code", "Design", "Review