Review: DHTML Utopia: Modern Web Design Using JavaScript and DOM

Dec 4, 2006 by

Web Teacher


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★★★★ DHTML Utopia: Modern Web Design Using JavaScript and DOM is by Stuart Langridge (Site Point, 2005). The cover says it contains "Practical Unobtrusive JavaScript Techniques."

I was under the impression that Dynamic HTML was a term that had passed into the sunset, but unobtrusive JavaScript is certainly a current best practice. The book is explicit about former scripting practices that should no longer be used, and gives alternatives to do the tasks according to current thinking.

The book holds more than JavaScript. There is PHP, too, and a bit of HTML and CSS as needed. The book begins with an extensive chapter explaining the DOM, which lays the groundwork for the various scripting techniques that are to follow. The remainder of the book focuses on scripts for various purposes. There are scripts for detecting browser features, animation, forms and validation, menus, remote scripting, communicating with the server, and XPath as an alternative to using the DOM.

The chapter with the scripts for menus was especially interesting to me. The script contains menu actions that people find in places like Son of Suckerfish or Pop Menu Magic, explained in a way that make it comprehensible to construct one from scratch. Langridge writes well. He often presents a complete script and then goes through it line by line explaining each part separately, which I found helpful since I can’t just read a script and understand what it’s doing. If you are teaching or learning JavaScript, give this book a look. It may be just what you need.

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