DHTML Utopia: Modern Web Design Using JavaScript and DOM

I remember the first time I saw an image rollover on a web site, and being blown away by the sheer coolness of such a thing. Of course I immediately had to learn how to do it. However, I never really liked JavaScript much after the initial ‘wooo I can make things move’ thing wore off. It got in the way, was a horror to get working cross-browser, and was responsible for all sorts of evil flashing, popping up and generally annoying behaviour by web sites. In recent times people began to move away from such things and clients stopped asking for anything more than a bit of simple form validation and I was happy to hang up my JavaScript hat.

I’ve had to dig that hat back out of the cupboard again recently, and its got a bit dusty while it was in there. I’ve had more requests for functionality that requires JavaScript – because a new breed of JavaScript is appearing, creating functionality that assists those with JavaScript enabled but doesn’t destroy the experience for those who do not.

DHTML Utopia is a book that supports that responsible use of JavaScript – as an application developer I’m happy to read reminders such as, “Client-side validation can only ever be an enhancement to a secure system” (Chapter 6: Forms and Validation) and the section explaining how to integrate client and server-side validation is a fantastic thing to include in a book like this. Too many books seem to forget that whatever part of a system we are developing it has to work with the application as a whole, this book doesn’t fall into that trap at all. The standards geek in me rejoices at the book’s approach to semantic mark-up and best practices with accessibility considered throughout, and the part of me that fears JavaScript has her hand held with a step by step approach to explaining the examples.

This is a really impressive book by Stuart Langridge, it’s easy to read despite explaining the examples to a level that should get even the most reluctant JavaScript developer able to adapt these to their own requirements and write their own scripts, and is full of sensible, real-world advice. It also mentions beer quite a lot and has marvellous quotations at the beginning of each chapter.

If you are needing to get up to speed with modern DHTML then this is a great place to start. The first 4 chapters are available as a download free from Sitepoint so you don’t need to take my word for it!


Matt Wilcox on the 15 Jun 2005:

Nice write up. I’m still waiting for my Amazon order to ship, I’ve been itching to get my hands on this for a month or so now. It’s good to hear the book will have been worth the wait!

cheryl on the 19 Jun 2005:

Naughty, naughty Rachel! Now I’ve gone and ordered it and of course since I didn’t have your CSS book and it was sitting shyly to the side looking so tempting I had to order it too.

Pat J on the 01 Jul 2005:

Hi Rachel
I’ve read all of your tutorials at dmxzone and have developed a skill of css. Thank you. I am also a PHP programmer (not expert) and I have created several websites using PHP and your tutorial on css.

My sites however lack the structure the DHTML book above talks about – in other words my sites are a jumbled mess of content scripting, and formatting.

What would be good is a complete tutorial (or e-book) on creating a website engine template consisting of php, css, dhtml seperating content from all the above scripting languages.

I am quite proficient in each of these languages but when it comes to pulling it all together into a website, I fail.

There is simply no one book that looks at each of the client and server technologies to create a website template engine to use over and over.

Maybe you and your PHP friends at Sitepoint or DMXZone can make such a book happen.


Peter Holloway on the 03 Aug 2005:

Thanks for the link to Sitepoint. I’ll have a look at the free download. I’m just getting to the stage where I have occasional need for Javascript, but really want to make something that works for all users.

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