jQuery: Novice To Ninja

After messing with Objective-C and iPhone apps all summer, I decided to take a break and learn something fun and that I can use with my clients now. Advanced jQuery has been something I’ve been wanting to learn for some time now. While I understood the basics, as far as implementing and skinning existing plugins, I got tired of sending my jQuery projects to other developers and thought I’d put this head to good use.

I picked up a copy of jQuery: Novice to Ninja both because it was free and because I heard it was one of the best books on the subject. My review of this book is sort of split half and half. I give the first half of the book 5 stars…and the other half…3 stars, only because it began to delve into things that didn’t interest me.

The Facts

jQuery: Novice to Ninja is written by Earl Castledine and published by Sitepoint. The book is 407 pages long, 330ish of that being the actual book, and the rest if the pages at the end of the book contained a bunch of great resources. I had the PDF version, so I can’t comment on print or paper quality, but the PDF was laid out nicely and easy to read.

My Thoughts

The first part of the book was phenomenal awesome. After the first few chapters, I could understand and write jQuery syntax, I knew all of the basic animations and selectors, and could write my own plugins, including dropdowns, tabs, sliding div books and other effects. I learned the most about jQuery in these first few chapters.

In my opinion, the second half of the book was filled with things that you can easily find plugins for. Although I now tend to write my own tabs because of how quick it takes, I’m more apt to look for an existing plugin before I sit down for a long amount of time to write a custom one. It saves my client money and myself sanity and makes everyone around happy. Of course, I know that most of the examples were there to simply to teach the reader how they work and how to write custom code, I simply wasn’t too interested in this part.

The Big Let Down

One major let down of jQuery: Novice to Ninja, is that it really wasn’t a follow along coding book per se, they didn’t really take you step by step through the entire plugin from start to finish. Instead, they only gave excerpts from the code and expected you to download the code off their site, and replace it with each project…this was simply too much work which ultimately helped to lead to skinning of the last part of the book.

I would have prefer if they’d laid out all of the code in the book itself, so I could follow along and type the examples, instead of having to copy and paste excerpts and guess which parts were needed. This was a huge pain, especially as the examples and projects became a lot longer.

Worth a Buy?

If you’re a beginner and wanting to learn the basics, the first have of the book will serve you very well. If you’re wanting to go all the way or already know the basics, the second half of the book will quench your thirst for jQuery goodness. Either way, I recommend it as an awesome after-work read.

You can find it on Amazon for $35.51