5 Books I’ve Recently Read

I’ve been updating my Agile, Web 2.0, AJAX, Social Networking and Google Mapping skills. I’ve just read 5 great books in the last couple months. Here they are with a quick one sentence review. All of them have been helpful, easy to read and I would recommend them to anyone interested in updating their skills.

Beginning Google Maps Applications with Rails and Ajax This was a great introduction to the Google Maps api and some tips on retrieving data from your Rails application. If your Rails/AJAX skills are solid and you have a basic understanding of the Google API, this book will probably not add much to your skill set. This is an easy read and explained
the mystery of the Google Maps API, which now doesn’t seem like it was so difficult

Prototype and Scriptaculous in Action. The In Action series of books have become my favorite publisher in recent years. This is a great introduction to the main javascript libraries powering Rails AJAX methods. After reading this book, I’ve stopped using the Rails helpers and just make the calls myself. I still use the remote_form method to get the authentication key passed for me. Do yourself a favor, learn what Prototype and Scriptaculous can do for you and you’ll find development tasks are much easier.

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide. The Rhino book is in its 5th edition. I’ve always been one of the Javascript haters, but after learning Prototype and Scriptaculous and playing with the Google Map API I realized I needed to embrace Javascript. If you don’t want to buy an updated book, watch Douglas Crockford’s Advanced Javascript video series. I’m not sure I love javascript, but the hatred has waned.

If you decide to play with AJAX and Javascript and have been frustrated in the past, get Fire Bug it makes debugging and monitoring javascript amazing.

Pro CSS Techniques is a fairly good book. It explained the current state of CSS and how most styles work and relate to each other. I was hoping for more receipe examples showing desired output and explained the technical reasons for the styles used. I was also hoping for guidelines on approaches to styling. This book does a great job of explaining selectors and styles. I can’t give it a strong recommendation because it didn’t provide what I needed, but my expectations are different then yours.

Advanced Rails Recipes: 84 New Ways to Build Stunning Rails Apps . This book was just released at RailsConf2008. It has recipes from a lot of the prominent rails community members. I’ve just started this book and expect it will make some great beach reading. The recipes are seem to be real world ready. I like reading solutions for problems; not only for the specific solution but to open my mind to new ways of thinking.

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