jQuery for Designers

I am here again with my 2nd book review.  The name of the book is “jQuery for Designers Beginner’s Guide Second Edition”.  And I thank Packtpub for inviting me to review this book.

jQuery for Designers is written by Natalie MacLees as a beginner’s guide for designers. This book is designed for the designers who have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS and would like to advance their skill set by learning basic JavaScript. If you have not written any JavaScript before, then this book will help you in writing your first JavaScript code using jQuery library.

Now let’s dive into each of the chapters to find out more.

Chapter 1, Designer, Meet jQuery, is an introduction to the jQuery library and JavaScript. In this chapter authors talks about the following points in a simple manner:

  • ‹What jQuery is and why it’s ideal for designers ‹
  • Progressive enhancement and graceful degradation
  • JavaScript basics ‹
  • Downloading jQuery
  • Your first jQuery script

It is a wonderful chapter to begin with as it has beautifully introduced jQuery to people in a very easy and step-by-step manner.

Chapter 2, Enhancing Links, will teach you how to use jQuery to turn a list of links into simple tabs.  And also explains how to customize tool tips and introduces one to plugin concept. Author highlights the HTML mark up, then adds small chunks of jQuery code and finally completes the demonstration with CSS addition.

Readers’ can test their understanding through Pop Quiz introduced in the chapter.

Chapter 3, Making a Better FAQ Page, will help you to learn the following sub-topics:

  • ‹How to traverse an HTML document with jQuery
  • How to show and hide elements
  • How to use simple jQuery animations
  • How to easily toggle a class name for an element

As before, step-by-step html code creation, adding jQuery scripts to it and explanation of those code blocks will definitely help people in understanding jQuery concepts.

Chapter 4, Building an Interactive Navigation Menu, will walk you through the creation of a fully functional and visually stunning drop-down and fly-out menus. Author has used a jQuery plug-in called Superfish menu along with required CSS styles to enhance a CSS horizontal drop-down menu.

This chapter will guide you to set up a navigation menu that consists of a set of nested lists, forming a hierarchy. Then it will attach a CSS file to add simple drop-down functionality to that menu. Moreover to add more behaviors, the Superfish plugin is used.

Chapter 5, Showing Content in Lightboxes, will first help you get the basics right. After that, with the help of Colorbox jQuery plugin you will be able to create a fancy login screen, photo gallery. It does not stop there, as you will learn to create a one-page website portfolio too. It also describes how to modify Colorbox plugin behavior to suit your lightbox needs.

Chapter 6, Creating Slideshows and Sliders, this chapter will show you different ways of creating slideshows and sliders on websites. It will start with a basic slider creation, and from there it will show slider creation using Cycle2 plugin.

Chapter 7, Working with Responsive Designs, this chapter starts with the use of FitVids jQuery plugin to make the videos resize correctly inside responsive designs. Then it explains how to create responsive menu using the previously created drop-down menu in Chapter 4. Finally, it talks about how to build responsive tiled layouts with the help of the Masonry JavaScript library.

I think author has assumed that reader has previous knowledge of responsive web design.

Chapter 8, Getting the Most from Images, starts with a very important concept of lazy loading of images. This topic is very important in today’s web performance centric world. Another very useful feature is of image zooming capability which is often seen in an e-commerce websites. Lastly, it talks about full screen background images and slide shows in web pages.

These examples are very handy and useful in creating responsive web pages.

Chapter 9, Improving Typography, is another important aspect of responsive web design. In every chapter, author has shown uses of several useful plug-ins. This chapter is of no exception.  Check the following list:

  • FitText plugin to size headlines responsively according to the width of the browser window
  • SlabText plugin to create perfectly-sized multi-line blocks of text
  •  Lettering.js plugin to fine-tune kerning and apply special text effects
  • ArcText plugin to set text on a curve

But use of so many plug-ins will cause page load issue and always it’s better to use CSS to solve a particular problem than JavaScript.

Chapter 10, Displaying Data Beautifully, first convert a static HTML table into an interactive grid using DataTable plugin. This is a very useful plugin which will make developers life easy. Further, book has talked about several parameters of DataTable plugin.

Next, book has taken a look at using the Visualize plugin to turn tables of data into graphs and charts. But I believe there will be hardly any static data to display in a graphical format. And for static/dynamic data and data visualization (graphs and charts), we have good libraries like D3.js in the market.

Chapter 11, Reacting to Scrolling, will talk about different ways of adding scrolling animation and parallax effects to web pages. Designers, who are using jQuery for the first time, will find these step-by-step examples with explanations are easy to understand and implement.

Chapter 12, Improving Forms, in this concluding chapter of the book, you will learn how to properly use the new HTML5 form elements to create a form that functions perfectly and is accessible. Further, you will have hands on how to focus the first field in the form, validate your site visitor’s form input, and style other form elements.

As a next step, if designer is interested to explore more, he/she can stress on the following topics:

  1. Detailing of Event driven programming
  2. Basic examples of jQuery plug-in creation
  3. It seems like jQuery plugin is a solution for all

Overall, it is a good book for designers who want to know very basics of jQuery. Further, designers will learn about different jQuery plug-ins and how to use them to complete their task. This will help them to find interest to explore jQuery more. And hence the purpose of writing the book is fulfilled.

Book Link: https://www.packtpub.com/web-development/jquery-designers-beginners-guide-second-edition

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