REVIEW: jQuery: Visual Quickstart Guide

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An unspoken rule of mine is to NOT give any products a bad review. I’ve tried to adopt an attitude of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But in the case of Peachpit Press’s jQuery: Visual Quickstart Guide, I have to make an unfortunate exception.

Since I’m about to beat this book up, let me quantify why I think it’s OK for me to do this…

Whenever I try to learn a new web skill, I’ve almost always looked to Peachpit Press’ Visual Quickstart (VQS) series first and foremost. I’ve done this for HTML, CSS, Flash/ActionScript, JavaScript, PHP and PhotoShop…just to name a few.

I will continue to utilize the series in this way because the tutorials in the books are so thorough, that it’s as if an instructor is right their in the room with you. The tutorials patiently walk you through all the coding examples, explaining the “hows” and “whys” of each code line.

On many occasions, they’ll provide sidebar content going into even greater detail of the code, a sort of “Did you know?” section. And almost all of the VQS books I’ve read provide a small list of resources at the end of the book so the reader could further their learning.

jQuery: Visual Quickstart Guide doesn’t do any of this. It provides coding examples, all of which work, but the hand-holding that the VQS series is known for is sorely missed. Like other VQS books, it provides short tips at the end of some lessons and all the code examples are available for download, but the positive comparison stops there.

To be clear: this is, by no means, the worst tech learning book I’ve ever read and it’s probably not even the worst book put out by Peachpit Press. This book certainly won’t stop me from using either Peachpit Press or Visual Quickstart Guide products in the future. In fact, I’m currently looking at their Ruby book as a potential purchase.

I looked at the Ruby and other recent VQS releases prior to writing this review and they all had the positive characteristics mentioned above, so the series doesn’t appear to losing its quality. And I’ll repeat myself-THE CODE EXAMPLES IN THIS BOOK WORK!!!!!!!!

Nevertheless, Peachpit has developed the VQS series to a point that its loyal readers expect a certain level of quality with each release. They expect each book to hold their hand throughout the entire process in the manner described above. Sadly, the* jQuery: Visual Quickstart Guid*e book doesn’t live up to the series’ self-imposed standard.

Again, the VQS series is great overall…one bad apple certainly doesn’t spoil the bunch. I would recommend the series to anyone and everyone, keeping in mind that this book is the weak link in the chain.

To ensure that it doesn’t appear that I’m destroying one learning resource in favor of another, I’m not going to recommend any other jQuery books or commercial websites in this article. I will recommend reviewing the extremely thorough jQuery documentation…THAT, you can’t go wrong with.

Update – March 21, 2011: According to the Wikipedia entry for Elizabeth Castro, the primary author of the HTML books in the VQS series, the HTML5: Visual Quickstart Guide that she’s authoring will be released in December 2011.

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