Review: Web Development Solutions

Web Development SolutionsThere is a recent book out by Friends of Ed called Web Development Solutions: Ajax, APIs, libraries and Hosted Services Made Easy.  Web Development Solutions is a good book for those looking to learn how to build their own web site. It covers the popular stuff going into blogs these days.  

This book, by Yahoo employees Christian Heilmann and Mark 'Norm!' Norman Francis, covered a lot of ground starting from the basics of Web development such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript and more advanced topics such as RSS, REST APIs and search engine optimization.

Chapter 1 is a quick introduction and describes some of the reasons why you might want to start a website, whether it is trying to make money, posting your resume or about your hobbies.

Chapter 2 explains some easy ways to create your own website using tools like Angelfire,  Geocities and Blogger. After which it covers the basic technologies of Web development such as describing what HTTP and FTP are. There is a nice overview of image optimization, an explanation of HTML and what it means to have semantic HTML, and an introduction to CSS and JavaScript. Finally, it talks about what server-side languages are, using PHP as an example.

Chapter 3 is where things start to get a little more complicated going into setting up your own development environment including PHP and MySQL on Windows or the Mac. Finally, it goes through the steps of installing WordPress. 

Chapter 4 includes an overview of RSS, REST APIs, CSS templates, WordPress themes and JavaScript libraries. It also talks of Web 2.0 services like Flickr and YouTube and what the social web means.

Chapter 5 expands further on REST APIs, going into Ajax (what it is and what it isn't) and how to use Ajax to help your visitors.

Chapter 6 covers integrating a number of these Web 2.0 services into your website including Flickr, YouTube, Odeo, and Google Maps and how to embed that content into your site.

Chapter 7 covers promoting your site. It talks of search engine optimization, blog aggregators, tagging, and cross-linking with other services. It also explains ways to promote your site using sites like Delicious, Digg, and Upcoming.

Chapter 8 talks about layout and navigation design.

Chapter 9 goes into depth on using special effects on your website. It explains what JavaScript can do and how that should be integrated into your site and then describes some JavaScript libraries that can be used including the pros and cons to using them. jQuery, YUI and MooTools are used to create a hierarchical menu.

Chapter 10 wraps things up nicely by including tips on how to find help and how to ask for help (which is probably just as important).

With a technical title like that I expected something a little more advanced. I was surprised to find that this was an introductory book for getting people online and publishing on the Web. The information is presented well; although I found some complicated subjects were introduced without much explanation but would discover that the topic would be covered in depth later in the book.

If you have a friend who's always bugging you to work on his website this might be a good book to get him.

Published July 13, 2007 · Updated July 13, 2007
Categorized as Book Reviews
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14 Comments · RSS feed
Nate Klaiber said on July 13, 2007

If you have a friend who's always bugging you to work on his website this might be a good book to get him.

Perfect explanation. Good book, just has a specific audience that it would suit best.

Teddy Zetterlund said on July 15, 2007

I have to agree on this one. It's a good book, just not what I expected.

Ross Bruniges said on July 16, 2007

yep - thats what I would say too, its almost like we now need an advanced version. Maybe thats exactly what the clever people at friends of ed were thinking....

Sam said on July 16, 2007

There are plenty of books that take up web development as subject. It’s really helpful to name a single one out of the crowd, we have been already distracted enough.

Nate said on July 17, 2007

You summary of Chapter 6 says something about "rodeo"? Am I missing something?

Jonathan Snook said on July 17, 2007

@Nate: my apologies. I tried using voice-to-text software and it obviously did a poor job. And I did a poor job of cleaning up the typos. It meant to say, "Odeo".

Chris Pallé said on July 20, 2007

This might just be perfect for me. I'm looking for something to get my head wrapped around Ajax and some frameworks such as jQuery and YUI. I have really good HTML/CSS skills (although I need to get updated to CSS3) and I'm using WP for my blog tool. My JS skills are light despite all the books I've read. Just never really worked on any extensive projects. Have you read Simply Javascript from Sitepoint yet?

Jonathan Snook said on July 20, 2007

@Chris: if JavaScript is what you want to get into, this probably isn't the book for you. The topics are very introductory and is really intended for the uninitiated.

I have started reading the Simply JavaScript book and so far, it's really good. I'll definitely post a review when all is said and done.

Chris Pallé said on July 20, 2007

Okay, thanks. I'm certainly past initiated. What are your thoughts on the Apress books?

Chris Pallé said on July 20, 2007

Hah. Okay. After reading around the site a bit, I guess that's a pretty ridiculous question. Bah! You can delete both of these comments if you like.

Carly said on July 26, 2007

<quote>"If you have a friend who's always bugging you to work on his website this might be a good book to get him."</quote>

Nah.. I'll be getting this one for myself.

I take it the book doesn't touch on Ajax? The title mentions it, but your summary doesn't... Guess i will find out when i get it :)

Dieter said on July 30, 2007

"With a technical title like that I expected something a little more advanced"

Exactly what I thought when I went quickly through it. I expected a more advanced book about webservices, REST-stuff, api's, ajax... but it really seems aimed at those who never have published anything on the web.

The title is a bit misleading in my humble opinion.

@ Chris Pallé: regarding Javascript, I can really recommend 'Beginning Javascript with DOM Scripting and Ajax' by Christian Heilmann (one of the co-authors of this webdev-solutions book I believe), published by Apress, that really did a good thing to me.

Chris Pallé said on August 01, 2007

Thanks, Dieter. I just pulled up the book at the Apress site. Hopefully I can get a chance to peruse the TOC and the free chapter in the next day or two.

Zach said on August 31, 2007

It may not be for the more advanced user, but from the few excerpts given it did look like an interesting read.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.