Web Development Solutions: AJAX, APIs, and Hosted Services Made Easy

Reviewed June 14th, 2007 @ 10:43PM

[Book Cover] Web Development Solutions: Ajax, APIs, Libraries, and Hosted Services Made Easy

Web Development Solutions: Ajax, APIs, Libraries, and Hosted Services Made Easy by Christian Heilmann and Mark Norman Francis left me with mixed feelings. The title lead me to believe there would be some more in-depth information related to the topics, but in reality the end of the title should have been Using Wordpress. The majority of this book focuses on Wordpress and how each of the topics relate to the blogging platform.

The reason I had mixed emotions is because on one hand, the authors made it seem as though web development is so easy your Grandma could do it, while on the other hand sliding in some disclaimers about needing more knowledge on different topics. I think that this book would give someone just enough material to be dangerous, but not enough to really understand web development as a whole. This book is geared to the beginner in web development, so I was hoping for some more solid material.

With that out of the way, lets take a closer look at the book and its contents:

The first chapter simply discusses the reason for starting up a website in the first place. There are many different reasons for many different people as to why they start a site. Some start for financial reasons (make money and advertising), while others start to share photos with family and friends. This chapter discussed several of these reasons for starting a website.

Chapter two was where the book really started to take off. This chapter discusses the Dilemma of “Rolling your Own” Solutions. We also get a brief crash course in several aspects related to web development.

The author gets you started by installing a local server on your machine with PHP and MySQL. After this is completed, the authors walk through an installation of Wordpress as we begin our journey. Basically every chapter after this will use Wordpress in one way or another.

This is where things get somewhat fuzzy. The chapters related to Ajax, APIs, and Libraries all revolve around Wordpress. The topics are not discussed in depth, but merely show you how to install an array of different plugins available to the Wordpress platform. Flickr, Youtube, Odeo, and Google Maps—all of which are presented as plugins for Wordpress.

The last few chapters involved some good discussions on promoting your content, navigation and layout, and finally—how to get help when you hit a roadblock. The last chapter really made this book worth the read, as it discussed the different ways to get help, the places to go, and how to ask for help in the different communities. There are some very helpful and important tips in this chapter as you seek help from your peers and colleagues.

Overall, the book was not a bad read—it just left me with mixed emotions due to the title of the book. The authors are very knowledgeable and that shows in each of the chapters. Though I felt the book made things look so easy, the authors were sure to point out that the solutions there were not in-depth, but enough to get you started. If you are just beginning your trek into web development, then this book would be a good read to get you up and running in no time flat. However—for long term involvement in the web, or a more in-depth discussion of the topics listed in the title, you may want to grab a few more books.