Beginning JavaScript and CSS Development with jQuery: full color, full flavor

Hey all you out there. Today we would like to present you with another great book from the wonderful Wrox publishing group called “Beginning JavaScript and CSS Development with jQuery” authored by a wonderful person named Richard York (Amazon link).

Getting the book, the most interesting thing that will sure strike you is that all the code and screenshot are featured in full-color, complete with code syntax highlighting providing you with a visual reinforcement so you can see the various bolts and nuts that make up each line and section of code for each language.

The book is, as the name says, designed to teach you all aobut the jQeury javascript library. So what’s it all about, you ask? Well, jQuery is a JavaScript library that helps web developers create JavaScript applications that work well in any browser.

In other words, jQuery allows you to do more in the world of dynamic web applications, with less code and fewer errors. It reduces the amount of JavaScript programming to only a few lines of code while making your JavaScript more intuitive and attractive to work with. At the same time, jQuery makes it easier to manipulate CSS from JavaScript by allowing you to set style for one or many elements at once

The book focuses on demonstrating how to use jQuery to reduce the amount of code you need to write and reduce the amount of testing that is required. Youll see how separation of presentation (CSS), markup (XHTML), and script (JavaScript and Ajax) in web pages is a crucial direction in web development for creating maintainable, accessible, cost-effective web sites..

With this unique, project-oriented book, author Richard York teaches even the most novice of JavaScript users how to quickly get started utilizing the JavaScript jQuery Library to decrease the amount of code that needs to be written and tested. A four-color code syntax highlighting system provides a visual reinforcement and allows you to see the nuts and bolts that comprise each line and section of code. With this helpful guide and hands-on exercises, you’ll be able to put jQuery to work for you and avoid having to write code from scratch.

The book concentrates on the specifics of how to install and test jQuery, techniques to manipulate content and attributes and ways to filter and map a selection or an array.

You will also learn the difference between GET and POST, how to easily show, hide, slide, and fade elements with smooth animations and transitions and good practice for jQuery plugin development.

Using this book you will also learn all the methods for making elements draggable, ways to customize sortable lists and how to implement and localize a datepicker.

We would strongly recommend this book for any web designers eager to do more with their web-based applications, but who do not necessarily have much JavaScript experience. Some basic knowledge of XHTML and CSS is necessary.


May 31, 2009 at 8:13 am 11 comments

PHP and MySQL: Create – Modify – Reuse: Your next step in becoming a great developer

php and mysql create modify reuse Pictures, Images and Photos
Continuing with our new series covering PHP and MySQL, we would like to present you today with another great book from Wrox, called PHP and MySQL: Create – Modify – Reuse by Timothy Boronczyk and Martin E. Psinas (Amazon link).

This book is designed to teach you everything about the vibrant power of PHP and MySQL in real-world applications with the useful information and step-by-step directions.

We would like to point out that this book is for anyone who is familiar with the fundamentals of programming in PHP and MySQL and is interested in programming a variety of applications. If you lack any understanding of PHP, we suggest you have a look at Beginning PHP 6, Apache, MySQL 6 Web Development, also from Wrox publishing.

This book was written by geeks who are in tune with everyday web development tasks. The authors have taken on a mission to guide you through quite a few projects that are complete, tested, and ready to be implemented, so that you can understand by doing. Understand all aspects of design, such as portability, design flow, and integration, and become proficient at solving problems that developers face in everyday circumstances.

Written by an experienced PHP professional who is in sync with the most common uses of PHP and MySQL, this tutorial presents basic code for twelve practical projects that demonstrate the basic concepts and syntax of PHP and MySQL that are used to develop web-based applications.

As you walk through the comprehensive steps of each project, you’ll learn the many aspects of design as well as how to properly secure your applications for real-world implementation. While some projects build upon previous projects, others stand alone. Whether you are looking for guidance in how to program different applications, seeking inspiration to write projects of your own, or planning to modify and reapply the featured projects, you can look forward to expanding your skill set with these projects.

Create – Modify – Reuse guides are packed with unique, ready-to-use projects that are perfect for the busy programmer. The projects are created with minimal set-up and can be modified, enhanced, and reused in real-world situations.

To sum it up: this is a great book for anyone who knows PHP and MySQL but still lacks the experience and knowledge of putting it all together to create a powerful working application. This book will take all the bits and pieces you already know, add some spice, and turn it into a great product.

May 20, 2009 at 7:40 am 11 comments

Beginning PHP 6, Apache, MySQL 6 Web Development: A Masterpiece

We are happy to announce our new book review series, which is going to cover some other books and topics related to Drupal and site building.

To kick it off, we will start with what we find to be a great foundation and starting point for anyone interested in PHP programming using MySQL.

The book is called Beginning PHP 6, Apache, MySQL 6 Web Development by Timothy Boronczyk, Elizabeth Naramore, Jason Gerner, Yann Le Scouarnec and Jeremy Stolz, published by Wrox Press. (Buy on Amazon)

Being quite a hefty book, you might want to set aside some time to read it through, because we are sure you are going to love it.

The authors have taken all their knowledge and expertise to create a great learning program, that will take you from being a novice on your way to become an advanced developer.

The purpose of this book is to give you the best possible foundation for understanding how each of the core components work separately and together, which will enable you to take full advantage of all that they have to offer. When you’ve finished reading this book, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the core concepts you need to be an effective developer using Apache, MySQL, and PHP, and hopefully a burning desire to continue learning and growing as a developer.

Reading the book it is quite evident that you got to have some experience with web site development concepts and a basic working knowledge of HTML and CSS. Knowledge of other programming languages besides PHP is not a prerequisite for this book, but certainly any programming experience you have will help you understand and apply the concepts presented more easily and quickly.

Of course, since Apache, MySQL and PHP are each complex in and of themselves, and it’s impossible for this book to cover every advanced detail of all three, but it’s doing a great job of covering all of the required bases so you can get started on your great journey to become a great developer.

This book is geared toward the “newbie” to Apache, MySQL, and PHP, and the core concepts and code snippets have been distilled down to their most basic levels.

To sum it up, we would just like to say that this is THE book for anyone out there trying to begin learning PHP.

Enjoy your book as much as we did.

May 18, 2009 at 7:39 pm 6 comments

Drupal 6 Social Networking – A great value for anyone interested in Drupal

Hello to our fellow readers,

Today we take a look at another great book: Drupal 6 Social Networking by Michael Peacock, published by Packt Books. (Buy on Amazon)

Let me just begin this review by first thanking Neha Shaikh from Packt Publishing for being of a great help and of greater generosity.

Alright, to the review we go…

Now, as the name says this was written for anyone who thinks about building a social or community web site, with friend lists, groups, custom user profiles, and much more by using our beloved content management system Drupal.

First of all, the book features step-by-step instructions for putting together a social networking site with Drupal 6, elaborating on how to modify your Drupal installation with modules and themes to match the needs of almost any social networking site.

The book will take you on a great journey from the beginning of the install to configuring your website, to adding the functionality needed to start building a social networking site.

Of course, If you’re a real Drupal geek you may want to skip the first couple of chapters, but there’s something to be learned from this book no matter your level of experience.

The author also shows you how to allow users to collaborate and interact with each other on your site, and the best thing of all is that it requires no prior knowledge of Drupal or PHP, but still, even experienced Drupal users will find this useful to modify an existing installation into a social web site.

The other great thing about this book is that the instructions are straightforward and easy to follow, but beyond giving directions, the author explains the “why” of doing things, which is great when you’re thinking of moving forward. This book will serve as a great springboard for anyone thinking of building not just a social networking site, but really anything with Drupal, because it gives you a good practical experience building a Drupal website.

To sum it up in one word, this is a superb book for anyone looking to learn how to expand their knowledge of Drupal, and specifically to build their own social networking site.

May 18, 2009 at 4:50 pm 5 comments

O’Reilly is coming to the scene, finally.

In a nutshell: One of the best Drupal guides out there!

This book must be described as probably the best tutorial book for beginners wanting to play with Drupal power.

This book has been eagerly awaited as the first O’Reilly volume covering Drupal, and having been written by such a rockstar team of Drupal pros.

It’s also the first book to focus on a wide range of third party contributed modules rather than just Drupal core, or a narrow subject area of modules. It’s written for Drupal 6, although the book would be fairly applicable to Drupal 5 (with the caveat that one of the major modules, Views, is completely different for Drupal 6 – the underlying concepts are similar though).

The first thing that struck me about this book is its fundamentally different approach from most early Drupal books, as well as the kinds of books you find in the early stages of any new technology’s mainstream acceptance. It’s not simply a higher quality rehashing of handbook pages and technical how-tos, but it has an incredibly cohesive and clever process through the entire book.

Every main chapter of the book will:
Introduce an example scenario that’s easy to relate to. For example, an early chapter that covers creating a simple site for a Mom & Pop shop has this sample case study: “in order to update the web page content each week, they currently pay their next-door neighbor Goldie to hand-edit the page”
Outline what you’re going to be building

  • Explain why certain decisions or trade-offs were made when creating this site, and highlight alternative choices depending on your particular situation
  • Explains step-by-step how to complete the site with lots of tables and screenshots, pointing out gotchas and important concepts along the way
  • Ends with a “Taking It Further” section with suggestions for other features or future modules to watch that are related to the site recipe

The hands-on approach of this book takes you through a single, cohesive example in each chapter. This gets you building a site to completion at every step. This approach reminds me of the different ways to learn a musical instrument such as piano or guitar – you can start with theory and technique and practice your scales first, or you can just learn some chords and be able to whip out a few simple pop songs your first afternoon. This book is the chords.

It also has some great moments of explaining fuzzy concepts that are difficult to understand without significant Drupal experience. The Using Drupal team shows their years of expertise training users and implementing Drupal sites in gems such as this, describing whether you should use taxonomy or a CCK field for content categorization:
A general rule of thumb is that if you can remove the field and the content type still makes sense, use Taxonomy. An article filed under a “Technology” category is still an article if you remove the category association, so Taxonomy is a good fit. If the field is part of a piece of content, such as an album’s recording artist, then CCK is generally a better choice.

Using Drupal will take you through building a:

  • Simple website with blog for a mom & pop grocery store, including a WYSIWYG editor and uploading images to content
  • Job posting board for a university, which introduces the key CCK and Views modules
  • Product reviews site with user ratings, Amazon product data importing, some simple CSS tweaks using the CSS Injector module, and more CCK/Views
  • Wiki, which brings in revisions, input formats, and Pathauto module
  • Local arts news site, which takes you into Actions, Triggers, Workspace, Workflow (both as a concept and module), and Views Bulk Operations to create an administration page
  • Photo gallery, with ImageField, ImageCache, much more Views and some site display tweaks
  • Multilingual website with a strong overview of concepts, then Locale, i18n, and the Localization Client
  • Event management site with calendar and attendees
  • Online store using Ubercart (focuses on basic store setup, products, attributes, and orders – you’ll still need to set up payment methods)

It also covers a few additional topics:

  1. An overview of Drupal, and where to get help
  2. Basic theming (this is the only time you’ll see code!)
  3. Installing and upgrading Drupal and modules
  4. How to choose modules and participate in the community

So what’s it missing?

Obviously Using Drupal only scratches the surface of the many, many types of sites you can build with Drupal. There are a few major topics you won’t find covered in here – membership sites with protected user access, Organic Groups (a chapter that didn’t quite make it due to module readiness for D6), more advanced magazine/newspaper-style sites with modules like Node Queue and Panels, multimedia (there’s another book for that!), or social networking sites. However, I think they picked a great selection of site recipes to cover in a relatively small amount of space, and each recipe will get you a solid site built.

The book will also direct you to two additional resources available online: the finished demo site for each chapter for you to browse, and a download package containing installation profiles with the same versions of modules and themes used on each site. The installation profiles will set you up with a clean slate with your modules all prepared for you to start following along step-by-step in each chapter.

Other things I really love about this book:

  • It isn’t afraid to recommend helpful modules early, such as Administration Menu
  • It highlights common newbie gotchas, such as using the blog module when you really want a story
  • It points out future modules or alternatives to watch, for example, the WYSIWYG API
  • It gives contrib modules such as CCK and Views the foregrounding they deserve when learning Drupal

This is the book I wish I had when learning Drupal. I would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone new to Drupal, intermediate users who want to take their skills to the next level or brush up on Drupal 6/Views 2, or anyone who actually needs to build a site similar to the recipes listed above. And, y’know, anyone else who’s ever built or wanted to build a website 🙂

May 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm 6 comments

Leveraging Drupal: Getting Your Site Done Right by Victor Kane – Superb book

Hi Guys,

Today I would like to review a new book that I gladly review lately (Specail thanks to Ashley Evens for making this happen).

The book: Leveraging Drupal, by author Victor Kane.

Now, in creating web sites, there will be those who will find their strength in the Theming/User Interface side, and those who are wizards at functionality, creating modules that add yet more capabilities. I would consider this book best for the project manager or small shop developer who has to oversee the entire process while interacting with clients, developers and designers, and wants a thorough approach to successful use of Drupal for any size application.

While relatively new to Drupal, I have designed and developed web sites since 1995. I believe the most common problems or bottlenecks come not nearly as much from the question of the software chosen or even the design, but resolving what the site is supposed to do, who is going to use it, and how it will be managed and maintained. This became a greater issue when non-technical administrators took over the mundane tasks of refreshing content, approving users, etc., through the use of user-friendly content management systems. Development expanded and widened in scope, and content management systems are now complex applications.

As Drupal has risen in popularity through its flexibility, scalability and stability as a CMS platform, a good number of books have come out to help developers jump on board, some with a focused approach on building functionality or designing themes, while others offer more general instruction on setting up and getting a site online. Victor Kane\’s book falls somewhere between both, but adds two components that often are not accounted for in this kind of “how to” book.

First, he explains how to create a framework for approaching software/web site development that begins with client-oriented goals. He specifically advocates the use of an Agile approach, dedicating the first chapter not to Drupal per se, but to putting a plan in order before unpacking the software or installing a single module. He consistently refers back to this approach as he guides the user through the development of a model site (an On-line Writing Workshop), returning to Agile development more deeply in Chapter 11.

Second, while many development teams attached to IT departments in larger companies or agencies are used to keeping track of revisions when a job is split up between many programmers, the “one-man team” can learn best practices through the software examples given in the book that explain the hows and whys of keeping a web-based tracking system for Drupal site development. More than just mentioning this as good advice, he puts it to practice throughout the book. I haven’t seen this discussed in most books about open source CMS development, and I think it’s worth noting. You will learn about Version Control nearly as much as you will learn about Drupal from this book!

Where there might be more than one way of doing something, such as installing Drupal onto a home system for testing or loading it onto a shared host, he will give as many as two or three different ways to do so. There is little he doesn\’t discuss thoroughly, and he invites the reader to join him in expanding and improving the lessons in the book through a web site he has set up to continue the learning/mentoring/sharing process that is a hallmark of the Drupal community\’s approach to \”world domination\”.

As with other books on Drupal, you might want to have some books on PHP around, along with a little background in Unix/Linux shell commands, CSS and HTML for reference. He adds a chapter on jQuery and is probably the first in print with some content on Drupal 7, which is projected to arrive in late 2009.

It’s a great addition to the growing number of books on Drupal, and stands out for his unique discussion of planning and versioning, which is applicable to any web project.

April 19, 2009 at 4:32 am 4 comments

Building Online Communities With Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress – Old but still a nice read

I have only read the Drupal section of the book, so I can’t comment on the other two sections.

I have been trying to learn how this powerful CMS system works as I start my first Drupal site, and have spent many hours on the official website reading documentation and community posts from the incredibly helpful folks over there. However, sometimes computer people have a hard time communicating effectively with the less-technical among us. As an instructor myself, I constantly have to remind myself to slow down and make no assumptions when I teach – a skill it takes a long time to master.

This book is a shining example of that skill put to good use. The author is extremely talented at phrasing things in “real English” and makes no assumptions that the reader has any pre-existing knowledge. His explanations are well thought out, and make perfect sense out of what can be a complex subject. He has obviously spent a lot of time crafting the words to ensure you get the picture. I’ve had many “ah-ha!” moments reading this book, where something came together and clicked in my mind – even after reading many other explanations elsewhere.

There are a few features and modules mentioned which are available only in the upcoming Drupal 4.7 (which is currently available in a beta test version, and working quite well just as it is), but it would have made no sense to publish a new book that only covers older features when the new version is literally weeks away.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning Drupal.

March 1, 2009 at 5:57 am 5 comments

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