Sep 15, 2011

jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide Review

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm one of the biggest jQuery fans out there. When Packt Publishing gave me the opportunity to review three of their jQuery books, I was more than happy to give a full read of all three books and make one huge jQuery book review.

As that was nearly a year ago, I thought we should review another jQuery book from Packt Publishing. With the recent release of jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide, the wonderful people over at Packt were more than happy to send out a book for a review!

With that said, let's get right into the full blown review of jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques: Beginners Guide! This was quite a hefty book (with 344 pages), so I'll try to make this review a good wrap-up of the book.

My Experience with jQuery

I've been a web developer for just about nine years. Yes, I know, it's hard to believe it... I even laugh at it sometimes. I first started working on web technologies back in 2002 creating extremely simple websites. Those websites then dived into CSS shortly after, and then I started working on server applications shortly after mastering CSS and HTML. Then not too long after that, I realized I haven't picked up JavaScript at the time, so like you may assume, I started fiddling around with JavaScript. I picked up the popular client-side scripting language faster than anything else before.

After four years and much more knowledge about web technologies, jQuery was finally released. I didn't pick up jQuery immediately, as I didn't even know about it at first, but it didn't take me long until I started to dabble with jQuery.

I started messing with jQuery just learning how it works and the workings of it. I learned a ton about jQuery, but the biggest problem was, I didn't want to use it. Computers at the time ran JavaScript not all too quickly (we're really spoiled with the V8 JS Engine nowadays), so I rarely used any JavaScript at the time. Up until about late 2008, after Chrome was released, JavaScript performance skyrocketed. I dived right back into JavaScript and been using it ever since.

With all of that previous experience out of the way, I've been working with jQuery for a long time, and quite honestly, I could never go back to any other framework.

What the Book Covers

jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques really covers a ton of animation content that you could possibly ever need when creating a website. Just to get you familiar of what's covered, here's a create list of some of the significant topics:

  • How animation can be used and when best to apply it
  • Creating your very own loader (you know, those pinwheels?)
  • The many types of fading provided by jQuery
  • Working with animations while and after running
  • Sliding animations with easing
  • Creating one-of-a-kind animations
  • Using jQuery UI to extend jQuery's animations
  • Page navigation/scroll with animations
  • Pop-up type animations
  • Using CSS3 animations to your advantage
  • Using the canvas API for speedy rendering
  • Graceful degradion when using animations
  • Optimizations needed to achieve the best speed
It's without a doubt that jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques provides way more than what I was thinking of in a jQuery animation book. I wasn't expecting for Dan Wellman, the brillant author of this jQuery animation book, to write so much about animations in jQuery. They call this a beginners guide, which it is by all means, but there's a ton of content covered which makes it even better for the experience jQuery developers.

Wow, This Book is Awesome!

I don't call every book I read awesome, but jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques really deserves the title! From the very start of the book, everything is finalized extremely nicely. As the book starts of with an introduction to jQuery  animation and some tips on when and not to use it, it makes it a chapter that's not only an easy read, but also providing a ton of useful information about when and not to use animations.

One other thing that I really liked about jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques has to all of the pop-quizzes in the chapters. It's for sure no graded assessment, but it's very useful just to read them through, get the questions right, and prove to yourself that you really are that jQuery master that you thought you were.

Not only does jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques provide a ton of information like animating table cells, drop downs, and tons of other elements, Dan has done an excellant job of making sure all of the code is optimized to the fastest code possible. JavaScript can kill an internet browser if not optimized, and because jQuery does rely on the programmer having an understanding of good programming ethics in order for it to run at full potential, knowing the right and wrong ways of doing something is more than enough to the begineer jQuery programmers who pick up this book. In fact, one thing Dan does mention is the PNG transparency issues in the older versions of Internet Explorer and many fixes/workarounds for getting rid of them once and for all, or at least, making it better than before. Not related to animation at all, but can affect your animation a ton if your transparent PNG isn't looking too good in IE.

Another big plus about jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques is that all of the code within all the chapters is backed up on full commentary. Dan does one fantastic job of explaining the code being on what makes it work, and sometimes, the explanations can be two or even three pages long! To have that much detail in your explanations really make this book one to pick up if you want to learn some jQuery animation techniques.

Towards the end of the book, Dan has a single chapter on CSS3 animations and even the canvas API. Personally, I was never expecting for CSS3 animations to be covered, let alone the canvas API in HTML5; he really went the extra mile to inform the reader on how other animations can be used along with jQuery animation.

Just Some Slight Issues

There's really not too much wrong with jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques, but I really feel I should mention what I have found. During some parts of the book, I noticed seeing some code that was "misaligned" and not "properly" formatted. Basically, some of the code was tabbed in too far or not enough, making the code look somewhat messy in some spots.

Another smaller detail I noticed were some spelling issues. I noticed that an IE (AKA, Internet Explorer) abbreviation was spelled wrong, and made the entire sentence sound funny if you did not know what was supposed to be there.


All in all, I was extremely impressed with jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques. Dan covered a ton of information in yet another jQuery book, and I have to say, I really enjoyed all of the content that was provided. Everything was very relevant to jQuery animation and all techniques were being built upon throughout the entire book.

The only thing I could possibly take off a few points would be for the editing errors throughout the book. There were numerous errors I found while reviewing and they easily could of been avoided with just a bit more proofreading.

If you would like to check out jQuery 1.4 Animation Techniques, please check out the link below to Packt's website:

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