Edinburgh Castle
Head Rush Ajax
AuthorsBrett McLaughlin
DateApril 2006
ReviewerAndy Scott
Cover image for Learning Python


A good book to start to get the whole Ajax "phenomenon" into your head, get it there fast and make it stick. It expects you to know some basics which anyone who has dabbled semi-seriously with web development will already know.

The style of the book is very good with constant repetition of the key areas, facts and methodologies to get them to stick in your brain. Added to this different methods of presenting the same information are used which helps even more.

The examples are well paced throughout and each builds to some extent on the previous ones helping to fix the concepts in your brain.

In covering all of the key areas of the whole Ajax issue, namely: asynchronous requests, DOM, XML and server side programming, it is a great entry into the whole shooting match.


The placement and content of the mini-FAQs throughout the book is very well done - they are close enough to the subject matter to ensure they are about the stuff just been discussed.

It is good to see a book about web development mention that there are differences between the major browsers available. I would have preferred to have seen FireFox used as the main development browser as I think it is more wide spread than Safari. That aside the focus on using the standards to achieve a working site is good to see to flatten out these differences.

While the book's main goal is to teach you Ajax it is pleasing to see that it makes a clear distinction between the DOM, XML and the asynchronous parts of the whole thing - great. I think that it skated over the XML side maybe a bit too quickly - moving onto discussing JSON very quickly - but then XML is such a huge area that it makes no sense to go into too much detail. While it did not dissect the DOM in its fullness it presented a reasonably detailed picture of it to let people get started with it all.

Being a professional C developer some of the code examples left me shaking my head a bit with "you wouldn't do it like that" - but they served their purpose: to show how to write JavaScript to access the Ajax/DOM features not to show you how to write JavaScript.

I found the extra section on SQL injection attack very interesting and would have liked to have seen more examples of real world data attacks - though again that would be more for a professional web developer book than a head cram starter.

It did totally leave out any in-depth discussion of the HTTP header values that can be manipulated by the XMLHttpRequest object or even mentioning them. Again, I suppose this is in keeping with its positioning as an entry level publication.


Page 9: next to the block of questions it states "Answers on page 9" they are in fact on page 63.

Table of contents

Head Rush Ajax

Ch  1. Using Ajax
Ch  2. Speaking the Language
Ch  3. She Blinded Me with Asynchrony
Ch  4. Web Page Forestry
Ch  4.5 A Second Helping 
Ch  5. Saying More with POST
Ch  6. More Than Words Can Say
Ch  7. A Fight to the Finish
App A. A Few Special Bonus Gifts
App B. "All I Want Is the Code"

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