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Title: Head Rush Ajax
Author: Brett McLaughlin
Verdict: A fun-packed intro into Ajax development
The starting point for Ajax, and for this book, is that web reloads (hitting a submit button on a form and then waiting for the page to reload) are a pain. Ajax is about making web applications that are responsive - that means pages that update as the user is typing, web applications that act more like a desktop app than an elderly green screen app connected to a mainframe. So, the opening chapters set the scene, showing both the problem and introducing the Ajax solution.
The subject is then studied in more detail - for example there's more on what asynchronous really means. This is followed by a couple of chapters that look at the document object model, and how this is used to change and update sections of a web page. XML gets more coverage, as well as some coverage of an alternative to XML in the form of JSON.
In all 'Head Rush Ajax' really does cover all of the core Ajax material. The examples are useful, and the Head First (or should that be Head Rush?) approach of mixing cartoons, humour, quizzes and other mind-grabbing exercises does work well. Other, more staid, introductions to Ajax may have greater depth on the technical side, but this one works well for true beginners and those who just can't get on with a traditional technical tutorial.