Cover of the book

Summary: A perfect introduction to JavaScript, designed and illustrated to enhance the learning of anyone with visual thinking.

Price: $26.67 (buy it from Amazon)

Jon Duckett’s HTML & CSS is one of the very few books I recommend to : in my experience the volume’s unique combination of clear illustrations and great prose provides excellent instruction in web development in a way that doesn’t scare off designers. Javascript provides far greater challenges for a writer, as it is far more verbose and complex than markup or presentation. Duckett’s excellent JavaScript & JQuery, just published, compensates for that in two ways, becoming significantly larger than its predecessor (622 pages) while sacrificing just a few of the bold multiple-page-spanning Emme Stone illustrations that made HTML & CSS so unique and beautiful to read.

Two-page spread from the bookThankfully, neither of these adaptions compromises the clarity and easy reading that made HTML & CSS such a success. While it addresses technical subjects, JavaScript & JQuery doesn’t present itself as a technical manual, and has no ambition to cover every last detail of the scripting language. This is not a book for programmers, but one written for web development learners.

JavaScript & JQuery takes much the same approach as Duckett’s previous book: core concepts are introduced and illustrated before being used in practical, relatable examples of web pages (making a booking form for a hotel chain, a to-do list, selling tickets for a Maker Faire event, an image gallery). These examples build steadily in complexity and scope, ending in a summary page for each section. Readers are treated to a smooth progression of information, from fundamental concepts (objects, functions, methods and loops) to the complex (Ajax, JSON, and APIs).


JavaScript and frameworks are in an interesting position right now. Developments in the language, often inspired by libraries, increasingly nullify the advantages of frameworks… yet those same tools ensure easy scripting support and cross-compatibility with older browsers, most especially IE 8.

This creates a delicate, constantly changing balance, one that JavaScript & JQuery handles admirably: JQuery is introduced halfway into the book, with the framework used in examples only when it’s advantages are clear. I wish that a few examples had been slightly more forward-looking – the <dialog> element used in place of a JQuery-generated modal window, for example – but it would be a very small improvement.

Presentation & Support

Two-page spread from the bookNeedless to say, the book is presented superbly, with outstanding typesetting and attention to detail. I found two minor typos, but nothing that would impact the learner’s comprehension. The book is bound and indexed very well, making it an excellent reference work: I expect JavaScript & JQuery to be a volume that many learners come back to over and over as their skills and appreciation for the language grow. A support site featuring complete code listings and errata is offered as a complement.


I was so eager to see this book that I ordered it directly from Amazon as soon as it was available. I’m very pleased to see that it met or exceeded every expectation I had: Duckett has once again written the JavaScript book I’ve wanted for more than a decade of teaching web development. It’s my intention to strongly recommend it to every one of my students when my classes resume next month; if you’re a design-oriented person interested in learning JavaScript, I would recommend it to you too.

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