O'Reilly Book Reviewer

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Head First HTML and CSS, 2nd Edition (O'Reilly) by Elisabeth Robson, Eric Freeman

There are two kinds of people in this world - those who know Elisabeth Robson and Eric Freeman and those who don't. If you have read any of the "Head First" series of books, you would know why the web developers love these guys. "Head First HTML, CSS, and XHTML" was a super-hit when it launched and most of us, including me, had great pleasure reading it. The book is back with a refresh and with a couple of new chapters on HTML5 and also loss of a chapter on XHTML. If you are a fan of the "Head First" series, then this is the book to get on HTML and CSS before you venture out to "Head First HTML5".

Since I had read the first edition, it was great to quickly skim through this book and stop occasionally to read some new material. My only disappointment was that there was no in-depth coverage of CSS3 but overall this book is worth it. I do hope the authors come up with a "Head First CSS3" book in the future. I would be the first to buy it.


Book Review: Windows PowerShell for Developers by Douglas Finke (O'Reilly)

To be honest with you, I had just a slight idea what Windows PowerShell was. I had never used it before but I had heard of it being a scripting language for .NET and the Windows Platform. Similar to what BeanShell provides for Java. There is a lack of resources on Powershell that explains the power you can unleash for automation, testing, repititive tasks,etc. This book explains the concepts step by step so that not just the pros but also regular developers can take a shot at using it without fear.

The first three chapters are very basic and are devoted just to help you get started. This includes installation for the different flavors of Windows and also the language constructs. They are very well written so that the reader gets curious to continue reading more. The rest of the book takes a deep dive into explaining how to embed PowerShell in your applicaiton, use it with web services, XML and JSON processing. It also shows how to create UIs and interacting with DLLs. I found interacting with DLLs very useful as I needed to do that for one of my projects which had a third-party DLL and I wasn't ready to buy Visual Studio and learn C# .NET just to play with the DLL. This book helped me quickly get started on doing that.

This book is definitely for any developer, not just .NET or Java or Ruby or Python developers. If you are working on the Windows Platform, regardless of your language of choice, this book will take you to new heights. As a plus, it offers an overview of PowerShell V3 and Windows 8 so that you are ahead of the curve.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: Velocity Conference 2012: Complete Video Compilation

The Velocity Conference motto is  "Building a Faster and Strong Web". As such, the conference is focused on Web Performance and Operations. This conference is targetted for web professionals from companies of all sizes. I happen to be one of those web professionals. Unfortunately, this year I couldn't go. Or so I thought until I got access to this video compilation of all sessions! I am happy again.

The whole gamut of web performance has been covered in this video sessions. All the sessions are pretty good so I am unable to say "this one was better than that one". Also, I haven't watched all the videos since it covers whole 3 days. I do make it a point to watch in my infinite spare time and I learn something new each time. Regardless, these videos are making me smarter and standing out at my work place. It's been incredible. I strongly recommend this compilation to anyone wanting to make a difference in their app performance.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: Mobile JavaScript Application Development: Bringing Web Programming to Mobile Devices by Adrian Kosmaczewski (O'Reilly)

This is an excellent book that focuses on using Javascript (and only Javascript with HTML and CSS) for mobile application development. The author introduces HTML5 in chapter 1 which is a must for developing using Javascript on the mobile devices. He also introduces the Modernizer library to test for HTML5 features for cross-browser compatibility. Snippets of code that introduce the reader to Geolocation, Orientation, Device motion, Network connectivity, Canvas, Client-side storage, etc, set the base for the future chapters. Chapter 2 is a quick introduction on using Javascript productively by avoiding common pitfalls.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 provide a detailed coverage on jQuery Mobile, Sencha Touch, and PhoneGap. These are the leading frameworks for Javascript Mobile development. Chapter 6 completes the gap by going over debugging and testing using Jasmine and Siesta and other tools, like Adobe Shadow and iWebInspector. Chapter 7 concludes by providing a comparison of various frameworks and when to use what.

Overall, this book is very pleasant to read and is really geared towards folks evaluating different JavaScript mobile frameworks and didn't know where to start. This book will make it easy for you to decide what's suitable for your application.