Head First jQuery Book Review

I just finished reading Head First jQuery, which I received as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. Head First jQuery is my first Head First Book. As the title implies, Head First jQuery is focused completely on web designers and web developers new to jQuery and even JavaScript. In fact, Head First jQuery doesn't stop there, it also teaches basic PHP and SQL using MySQL as it pertains to using AJAX and passing XML and JSON to and from the browser and web server. If you are completely new to jQuery and a visual learner, you will appreciate the plethora of photos, images, and graphics on every page in Head First jQuery to help convey the concepts of JavaScript, jQuery, jQuery UI, PHP, MySQL, JSON, XML, and related technologies.

Web Designers and Developers New to JavaScript and jQuery

Head First jQuery Book Review

Head First jQuery wasn't written for me. I have been using jQuery and JavaScript for years. Upon choosing the book, I didn't realize a Head First Book was so focused on beginners. Head First jQuery starts you at downloading jQuery; specifying a folder structure for your css, images, scripts, and web pages; teaching wannabe web designers and web developers the basics of CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, and HTML; and then towards the end teaching the very basics of PHP, MySQL, T-SQL, AJAX, JSON, and XML to pass data back and forth between the browser and the web server. If you are truly not a beginner at jQuery and JavaScript, there is a good chance you will be bored by the book's focus on the basics.

jQuery Learning Tools - Pictures, Repetition, Puzzles, FAQs

I am very much a visual learner and appreciate pictures, charts, and other images to help teach a topic. Head First jQuery takes this practice to a whole new level, however, as every page has pictures, speech bubbles, and other visual indicators to help teach jQuery and JavaScript. It also has crossword puzzles, FAQ's, Matching games, and other items to help you better learn the topics in a more fun and interesting way.

If you enjoy lots of visual stimulating features in your books, you will love Head First jQuery. If not, you may hate Head First jQuery. I was ill-prepared for the amount of pictures and teaching aids, and was a bit turned off by them but could appreciate the strategy. There were just too many visual aids for me. It made reading quite a bit more effort having to deal with so many images interrupting the text. It wasn't always clear where to read next and the font size changes made it difficult to maintain a good focus on the writing. Although I can appreciate speech bubbles here and there for a bit of effect, there were too many. The redundancy and reptitiveness was a bit too much even though I know it is very important for learning.

Problem - Solution jQuery Examples

Head First jQuery teaches JavaScript and jQuery using a Problem-Solution approach. A client asks for enhancements to their existing website and Head First jQuery takes you through writing the requirements, introducing jQuery and JavaScript features that help in solving the problem, and last coding the problem. I enjoy this approach as it adds context to how jQuery can solve web design problems and make web developers more productive. Over and over throughout the book one is introduced to a client and your job as the web designer or web developer is to solve the problem using jQuery.

jQuery and JavaScript Fundamentals

If you really want to understand the fundamentals of jQuery and even JavaScript fundamentals, Head First jQuery does an excellent job even though I think the visual effects were a bit over the top. Once the book teaches you how to layout your stylesheets, JavaScript, and HTML files as well as the basics of setting up your HTML, CSS, and jQuery, Head First jQuery takes you though:

  • jQuery Events and Functions
  • jQuery and CSS Selectors and Navigating the DOM
  • jQuery Effects and Animations
  • JavaScript Features and Functions

Hobbyists and aspiring developers will easily be able to keep up with the information and perform the development. If you are completely new to web design and development, the appendix has plenty of step-by-step instructions on downloading and installing software.

AJAX, PHP, MySQL, JSON, and XML

About half way through the book the focus starts to move to the web server and AJAX. There is a lot of good introductory material on JSON and XML and submitting forms and handling the display of data returned from the server. PHP is the scripting language used on the server and MySQL is the database of choice for retrieving and saving content to a persistent store. Head First jQuery doesn't even assume you know T-SQL as it shows you how to form select and insert T-SQL statements for use with PHP and MySQL.

The appendices at the end of the book show you how to install PHP and MySQL if you are unfamiliar with the technology.

Conclusion

If you are truly a beginner at web design and development using jQuery, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, etc. and very much a visual learner, I think you will be impressed by Head First jQuery. It truly does start from scratch and assumes little to no knowledge. It's perfect for those completely new to web design and development and those that learn best visually with lots of images, repetition, and playful games.

If you haven't purchased a Head First Book in the past, be prepared for a visual explosion of teaching tools and images in the pages. I read the PDF version on my iPad and for me the graphics were a bit too overwhelming and distracting, but you may think differently.

Check out the reviews on Amazon.

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