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24 August 2013

Book Review: Javascript The Definitive Guide 6th Ed.

TL;DR: This book is an excellent reference.

I decided to pick this book up a few years ago when I found out I'd be writing significant pieces of software using Node.js.  I had used Javascript in the past for client-side work in the browser, so I was familiar with it, but didn't have the deep understanding I figured I'd need to be productive on a large project.

I have the PDF version of the book.

Part I contains chapters that go into a lot of detail about how Javascript works.  This is where you can learn about types, Javascript's functional nature and how to build classes.  This is excellent material if your goal is to understand language internals.

There is a chapter that isn't there though: "Crap to Watch Out For."  This would include information about IEEE754 floating points, null vs undefined, truthy/falsy and so on.  Instead, that information is sprinkled around the book.  (More often than not, you figure it out on your own through sad experience.)

The chapter on server side Javascript was more or less pointless.  It was neither a good primer for Rhino or Node.js.

Part III contains an exhaustive reference of core Javascript APIs.  I found this section indispensable.  Every method of every key class type is documented.  Some include examples.  I found the cross-references (linked in the PDF) extremely helpful.

Parts II and IVwere not useful to me since I was not doing client side programming.

Overall, I'd rate this book positively.  It helped me figure things out and continues to serve as a reference.

Full Disclosure: This book was given to me by O'Reilly with the hope that I'd publish a review on it.  Other than the book, I have received no other consideration from O'Reilly.