Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Book Review: AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications

I’m a big fan of PHP (though a Java developer by trade) and although I don’t buy into all the hype surrounding AJAX I do appreciate what it can do for a web application when used appropriately. So I was really excited to review “AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications”.

What I liked most about this book was that there was no fluff. AJAX is what it is and I felt the authors realize this and wasted no time getting right into it. There is the typical regurgitated information that all tech books can’t seem to ignore in chapter one but luckily not much. In fact, chapter one has you writing your very first AJAX enabled app.

The remaining chapters handle one application after another showing you several different ways you can utilize AJAX in your PHP web applications. Chapter seven, which shows how to implement a real time charting application using SVG, is debatably the most useless chapter in my opinion; however, it is something different that you don’t see similar books covering. And it’s a decent way to avoid using something like an Applet or Flash for similar functionality.

Probably my biggest complaint about the book in general is the authors’ use of XSL for a couple of the examples. This is easily excusable given the rest of the book though. The book does assume a basic understanding of PHP and Javascript but that shouldn’t scare off any newcomers to any of these technologies since you can simply copy and paste and run the code to see the outcome. The appendix has all the instructions for setting up the various technologies used in this book to get the reader going.

All in all I think this is a great introduction to AJAX and since AJAX is server agnostic all the techniques in the book can be applied to the server technology of choice whether its PHP, Java, or even .NET.

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