Tuesday, July 18, 2006

JavaScript: The Final Frontier

While I was in California, I stopped by Borders to have a look. I thought it would be bigger and more exciting. But it was just another bookstore, much like the ones we already have in Montreal. Incidentally, I did found a great bookstore a few days later: DigitalGuru.

However, Borders had a sale on a few books, one of which was: Head Rush AJAX. I mentioned before that I have a great respect for the Head-First series. I could complain that their books are quite verbose, but that's a small price to pay -- they drive the message across.

Once, in high school, at the very beginning of the semester, our English (ESL) teacher told us to write an essay. At the end of the semester, she asked us what we had learned this year. We made a point to explain her that we didn't really learn anything and that it had been a waste of time. We probably used gentler words though. She took out the essays we had completely forgotten about. She asked us to review them. What a difference! We cringed at the mistakes we had made, at our poor vocabulary, at our incredible lack of skills -- at least in comparison with our current level. Thank you for opening my eyes, Mme Lacasse!

It is too easy to think that we aren't improving because we lack the perspective of the before and after.

When I closed the "Head Rush AJAX" book, I thought: "Thanks for nothing..." But I was mistaken. Really mistaken. I only realized afterwards, when faced with my first AJAX problem, that I understood the concepts and I knew what to do. And I knew it wasn't like that before I had read the book. There is skill in teaching without people realizing how much they are learning.

Now I can play with AJAX, feed XML back in the requests and manipulate the DOM. But JavaScript is one of the topics I don't master when it comes to web development. I can "get by" but I definitely don't feel in control. I am waiting anxiously for "Head First JavaScript" as hinted inside their last book.

I could definitely go for more effortless learning.


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