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How much is universally applicable?

 
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Hello Mr. Freeman and Mrs. Robson.

I am curious as to how much of the knowledge in your Head First book is universally applicable to all of JavaScript. The thoughts that bring this question are the rise and fall of JavaScript frameworks, the scarce knowledge I currently have of JavaScript, and the wonder I have at how to be able to judge one JavaScript framework from another. I wonder if the knowledge gained from your publication will help a novice like me to progress far enough, with diligent follow-through, to be able to understand enough about the architecture of JavaScript to then be able to move on to understanding and analyzing the different JavaScript frameworks out there.

Does your book provide enough of the core concepts to where I could then go read a book on Angular, Ember, Backbone, Dojo, or jQuery and be able to perceive how that particular framework takes advantage of the JavaScript language? I am sure that I need to be a little of a full-stack engineer to really get the value from each of the frameworks. I feel like I know enough about SQL and ORM on the server side to understand communication with the database. I feel like I know enough about Java services on the server to understand server-side processing and transaction management fundamentals. I feel like I have a beginning knowledge of the use of JavaScript and other web languages on the front end to be able to understand how to provide a rich experience with the user. The third area here of interacting with the user is definitely something I have the least knowledge about. I am hoping to gain a depth of knowledge on client-side languages so that I can evaluate different toolkits. I would like to be able to do more than repeat talking points of each JavaScript framework. I would like to be able to research them and come to my own conclusions.

So, if the answer to my question is that one hundred percent of your book is applicable to all JavaScript frameworks then could you comment on how you think I could use your book as a training manual to get me to the point where I can judge the various JavaScript frameworks?

And, if my prior questions are too vague here's another pair:
do you put much of a focus on debugging JavaScript in the book? Though I didn't see a chapter on it I am thinking you have included it along the way where it makes sense.

My last question:
Do you speak of server-side javascript in your book? If not then what would you recommend as a possible next step after reading and understanding your Head First JavaScript book?

Cheers.
 
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Hi Kent,
I understand what you mean about the frameworks!! It seems like the tutorials out there hit all the same points, without really explaining how the frameworks work at a deep level. And the docs on the frameworks' sites are often not that helpful in providing a big picture of how they work. And it is a little nerve-wracking to invest a lot of time in any one framework knowing that another could come along and replace it! We are in a time of growth and turmoil in this area of JavaScript development.

Anyway, Head First JavaScript Programming is all about the core features of the language: types, objects, functions, inheritance, and so, yes are applicable to any kind of client- or server-side programming you might want to do, as well as understanding the frameworks.

In Head First HTML5 Programming, after the intro chapters which mostly (now) repeat what's in Head First JavaScript Programming, we spend a lot of time showing how to use a few of the JavaScript APIs to do client-side programming. I think learning how to use these APIs is helpful in understanding more details of how JavaScript works on the client-side. So Head First HTML5 Programming might be a good follow on to Head First JavaScript Programming.

We don't cover any server-side programming specifically, but all the core concepts you learn about the language are applicable.

Regarding debugging, we don't spend a whole lot of time on it, other than to show how to use the console and a few of the common errors you encounter along the way. I also have recently done an online video showing more about how to use the console, and more of the errors you'll encounter. You can find that video here: https://vimeo.com/90078434

Hope that answers your questions!

Elisabeth

p.s. One thing I've been thinking about is picking a couple of the popular frameworks and doing the "head first" treatment on them for online eBooks/videos as follow ons to this book. Would that be helpful to people do you think?
 
Kent Bull
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Thank you, Elisabeth, for your answer. I also appreciate your comment on Head First HTML5. I have your HTML and CSS book and need to finish that one.

Regarding the Head First treatment on some of the popular frameworks I would appreciate such a book. What frameworks do you have in mind? I know the ones I am most interested in are Dojo, AngularJS, and jQuery. I saw the Head First jQuery book at O'Reilly's site. Do you think that book is still applicable given that it was written almost three years ago?
I think those who would most appreciate a book on the different frameworks are those in a position similar to mine. I don't have significant experience in any JavaScript framework so I don't even know what to look for. If I were able to understand one or two in-depth then I could probably evaluate the others I encounter.

Kent
 
Elisabeth Robson
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So far, I've learned jQuery and a bit of Backbone. I think of jQuery more like a library than a framework, and I like it primarily because it really helps eliminate some cross browser issues (although that is getting less important now that IE is finally on board), and because it makes it easy to do things we need to do often. Plus cool animations .

Backbone I do think of as a framework because it forces you (in a good way, mostly) to structure your code in a certain way in return for getting lots of stuff done for you under the covers - like managing navigation between views, and handling loading data at the right time. The issue I have with frameworks like Backbone is that so much is done under the covers, I find that most books and tutorials give you recipes, but you can quickly run into situations where the recipes don't work, and it's hard to know what to do. For instance, while learning backbone, I ran into a timing issue with using collections, and from what I can tell (so far) the only way around it is to not use collections! Hmm.

I have heard Angular is very useful and it's next on my list of things to learn. Ember, I have heard is a big behemoth, and thus hard to wrap one's head around so for now I'm avoiding it. Dojo is also on my list. I've recently delved into Mocha and Chai (for TDD/BDD), and Nodejs. There's so much to learn!! It's hard to keep up.

I agree, having a comprehensive big picture view of all the frameworks and libraries, along with sample use cases, would be extremely helpful. I'll add that to the long list of things to do

 
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Elisabeth Robson wrote:There's so much to learn!! It's hard to keep up.



Ain't it the truth! It's practically impossible to keep up with all the moving and shaking in this area! I feel like I'm rolling a huge eight-ball uphill!

The other edge of that sword is that it's all super-interesting and there's no chance of being bored.
 
Elisabeth Robson
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Indeed! I wake up in the morning and have to decide between 20 or 30 different things to learn today. No chance of getting bored at all
 
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