AJAX Books and Resources
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Feature: AJAX - Asynchronous JavaScript and XML - some books and resource links
Motivation: These books and resources will help you stay on top of AJAX happenings
Up until now there have been few books on DHTML and only 2-3 that cover AJAX. But that will change dramatically. In early 2006, by Valentines Day, there will be a massacre of new tomes available on AJAX as everybody and Steve Holzner produces a book on the technology.

This will be an improvement over the Web because the otherwise excellentWeb resources concntrate on specific AJAX methods (and there are many) and really do not spend time on the background technologies of AJAX. What gets overlooked is the details of DHTML's DOM and CSS conections. That is why we are featuring Design using JavaScript ... just below. Meanwhile here is a summary of what will hit the beaches:
Ajax for Dummies by Steve Holzner, For Dummies Series with CD
Ajax Patterns and Best Practices by Christian Goss, Apress Books
Ajax Programming with Java by Paul Deck, Brainy Software
Head Rush AJAX by Brett McLaughlin, and Eric and Liz Freeman, O'Reilly
- this should be interesting as Brett has several Java+XML books under his belt and the Freemans are responsible for the excellent Head First series.
Pragmatic Ajax by Justin Gehtland et alia, Pragmatic Bookshelf
Professional AJAX by Nicholas Zakas et alia, Wrox Press

Best Not-an-Ajax Book by Title


wheetwhew where is this If you want the real thing right now let me recommend the following book - Modern Web Design Using JavaScript and DOM by Stuart Langridge from SitePoint for $US40. What ? No AJAX in the title ? Well, there is a blurb in the upper left corner that promises the book "covers remote scripting/AJAX". And indeed it does that and much more - it puts the AJAX phenomenon in the context of its roots - DHTML. It also looks at a range of JavaScripting alternates to pure AJAX which makes the technology more productive.

The first 4 chapters do a quick review of JavaScript, DOM, and XML coding. These refresher chapters amply convey the nature of the AJAX beast. In order to get extraordinary improvements in Web page speed and overall simplicity of the total client+server package (your total lines of code, client and server side both, should drop off notably with AJAX over ASP, PHP, JSP, etc.) - the coding on the client does become more complicated. As the author says at the outset - AJAX "is a set of Web development techniques that are mostly used in Web pages that have non-trivial input features".

The next 3 chapters show how much can be done on the client without any page refreshes required. This is the best part of the book because it has fewer server side dependencies. AJAX has the problem that all Web-based frameworks - they don't support offline operation nearlyat all.But many Web applications are really "offline + online" applications. This book shows some ways the umbilical back to the server can be cut and then reconnected, for online and some offline operations.

The Remote Scripting chapter then addresses the use of XMLHTTP and with some good examples for real AJAX work. But to its credit, the book covers other alternatives to XMLHTTP including iFrames, XML-RPC, and autoforms. I like having alternaives in my toolkit especially when there are trade-offs associated with server-side dependent AJAX.

This book puts AJAX in perspective while expanding users notions of what can be done in JavaScript and DHTML. Its website resources include not just the code but a good overview and sample chapters from the book.


Some new and promising books available now include:

AJAX in Action by David Crane et alia, Manning Press $45US - is 608 page tome that walks developers through the DHTML basics but in the new context. The book has ample code and library samples using practical world examples. In addition, it takes on some tough topics such as security, deployment and OO design issues.

Foundations of AJAX by Ryan Asleson et alia, Apress Books $40US
- cover the basics very well in parts, but I agree with Amazon reviewers - its examples are restricted to its own Taconite framework mentioning but not illustrating Dojo, Prototype and others. Its coverage of design issues is mixed as well.

Ajax Libraries & Free code
AJAX Patterns - Code discussions pages, examples with code, and design tips
CPaint - open source AJAX library with good docs and examples
DragandDrop - Very nifty drag and drop capability for images and text blocks
DOJO - an AJAX toolkit with good getting started documentation and nifty effects
DWR - provides direct web remoting between JS client and Java Servers
Flash/JavaScript Toolkit - considerably enhances integration between the two
GoogleAJAXSLT - yep a full XPath-enabled, XSLT engine in JavaScript - heavyweight
JSON - JavaScript to Java client server connection
MOO.Fx - provide text and container effects using Prototype
Opera AJAX SDK - Opera brings free AJAX SDK to mobile browsers, very interesting
OsFlash - a free routine to make JavaScript and Flash work together better
Plex - smooth, XML-based component framework for menus, trees, and grids so far
Prototype - Sam Stephenson's basic AJAX engine, used a lot
qooxdoo - a free open sourceframework supporting a broad gamut of UI components
RealtimeHTML Editor - this is another good working example of AJAX in action
RICO - another good, open source AJAX engine as described in book AJAX in Action
Sarissa - a set of XML-savvy AJAX libraries for DOM, XPATH, XSLT manipulation
Script.Aculo - Drag and drop and other basic GUI effects built on Prototype
Slideshow - this is an example of aJax - JavaScript GUI does most of the slideshow work
Spellchecker - add a spell checker into your text boxes.
Tibet - ambitious, enterprise caliber AJAX toolkit, as of Dec 3 2005 not generally available
Tooltips - another fine set of routines from Walter Zorn for tooltips
Turbo DBAdmin - yes, full database administration and viewing in AJAX, very nice
Vector Graphics Library - how to draw vector graphics in JavaScript without SVG
WebORB - has done a great job of showing side-by-side AJAX and Flash components
WForms - AJAX library with CSS templates for forms filling - very good.

AJAX Links
AJAX Goals - another solid resource site with demos, code, news, and good forum
AJAX Info - another good source of news, tips, tutorials and sample code
AJAX Matters - news and reviews website on all things
AJAX Patterns - is all resources and links going into a book AJAX Design Patterns
Ajaxian - a weblog devoted to whats happening in the world of AJAX
CrackAjax - provides a good set of basic tutorials, works well with quirksmode
Clearnova - sample of AJAX code in progressively more complex usage
JavaWorld - pronounces AJAX: Dawn of a new Developer
JPSpan - how to tutorial includes install and basic sample
FiftyFourEleven - Great web development link site with tips on where to go
RICO - a great set of demos of what is pssible at the GUI layer
SAJAX - another how to using a simple example with lots of sample code.
SoftwareasSheWrote - Blog of Mike Mahemoff which looks at AJAX development and patterns
Webpasties - has a top notch, complete example of doing AJAX very real zipcode app

Ajax Tools

ActiveState - has dropped JavaScript but added PHP 5.x, Ruby on Rails=AJAX to Komodo IDE
Adobe GoLive - has no special AJAX support
Backbase - a set of client templates, editting and debugging environ with serverside support
Bindows - if you need to give a very close to classic windows look to your browser app
eBusiness Applications - AJAX based grid and table controls for database display
Genuitec MyEclipse - adds AJAX JavaScript templatesto its Eclipse-based Java IDE
Isomorphic SmartClients - one of the oldest Ajax Frameworks, real polish
JetBrains IdeaJ - it speaks volumes when a Java tool is one of the best JavaScript editors
Macromedia Dreamweaver AJAX - There is no AJAX support whatsoever in the new Dreamweaver 8, not even an extension(but there is one for Cold Fusion). But clearly as of the MAX conference in October 2005, AJAX was definitely on Macromedia's mind.
Microsoft Atlas - will link client script libraries(AJAX) with server-based ASP.NET 2.0.
Software Ag CAI - Compsite Application
Sun Java Creator - Sun takes an ambitious, top-down approach to Java+AJAX


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