DHTML Utopia: Modern Web Design Using JavaScript and DOM

Reviewed September 4th, 2006 @ 07:28PM

[Book Cover] DHTML Utopia Modern Web Design Using JavaScript and DOM

DHTML Utopia by Stuart Langridge was a very thorough book on using Javascript and the DOM. This book seemed to pick up from the previous book I read, DOM Scripting by Jeremy Keith. Not that one was better than the other, in fact, I think they complemented each other very well.

Stuart didn’t spend much introduction time for beginners, but dove right into manipulating the DOM in many different creative ways. He states clearly that Javascript should be used to enhance a page, and should degrade gracefully without (unobtrusive). With each chapter he made sure that his tutorials took this approach, and he stuck with it. Though there were several tutorials, I didn’t find all of them useful. For instance, his example of using Javascript and the DOM to create graphic rollovers could have been easier done using CSS. From a usability perspective, I have not found a case where rollover menus are really useful — but his menus were very impressive and I learned many things as he walked through the build. The principles behind each chapter helped me to understand different aspects of using Javascript.

Many browser still react differently to different calls. Stuart makes this very clear and gives you solid scripts to detect for different browsers and their support for different methods or calls. He didn’t dwell on the differences, but made it very clear how each browser reacted differently and how to overcome and support each browser. He brought many more advanced techniques to the table. As one who is still trying to find the best place to put this into practice, I appreciated his in-depth approach. At some times I felt overwhelmed, but the pace of the book easily kept me intrigued enough to stick around.

I wouldn’t recommend this to someone just beginning Javascript. It may actually cause you a headache without prior experience. This book is recommended for someone who has experience with programming and understanding the constructs of Javascript. Personally, I loved this book from the beginning to end. Unlike other books I have read lately, it wasn’t so much that each chapter built on the next — but that each chapter forced you to dive deeper and think through the process. From simple image rollovers, animations, and multi-level menus — all the way to the several different ways of using Javascript to make remote calls - this book was a solid read and gives you a great foundation.