JavaScript The Good Parts [Book Review]

JavaScript the Good Parts
JavaScript the Good Parts

There are a few experiences or resources I can definitively point at and say they had a very profound influence on my professional career. Douglas Crockford's 'JavaScript the Good Parts' is one of those resources. After 10 years the best practices and reasoning expoused by Crockford hold up.

JavaScript The Good Parts is the JavaScript equivalent of The C Programming Language for JavaScript in my opinion


When I purchased Crockford's book I was deep into jQuery, like most front-end developers at the time. At the time I enjoyed using jQuery, but I hated JavaScript.

And while jQuery is a JavaScript library, the core concepts of how JavaScript work are abstracted away, just like the native APIs now in all browsers. The typical jQuery developer (or anyone using a fast food framework) has a limited understanding of how JavaScript works. This lack of knowledge handcuffs their ability to create well structured, performant and maintainable applications.

Crockford did a series of excellent conference presentations after the book was released. Google shared one of his presentations on YouTube where he goes over many of the book's main points.

If you really want a good explanation of how JavaScript works, this is the book to get. One word of warning you will need to read through the various sections more than once as well as apply the concepts explained on your own before you get some of the more advanced ideas.

The main reason I got this book was to help understand how to build better JavaScript applications. Like most coming from a more traditional C based background JavaScript is strange. It has all sorts of quirks and you expect it to work mor elike the language you have more experience.

Because JavaScript was rushed to market and loosely based on LISP. Brandon Eich wanted to make a language that would look fairly familiar to Java and C++ programmers.

The Good Parts explains various object patterns you can use to build applications. From the Object Literal to various functional patterns, he reviews them all.

But more importantly he covers a lot of key concepts that a JavaScript developer needs to understand such as how equality is actually determined in JavaScript. He also reviews Regular Expressions, Arrays and so much more.

Finally he reviews what he calls the Good Parts and the Bad Parts of JavaScript. I found this section to be extremely helpful in truly understanding how JavaScript works.

One of my key takeaways from the book is Crockford based this book on his extensive experience building large JavaScript based websites before this was common. In otherwords, he learned the hard way and shares the knowledge he and his team learned.

After a good solid decade of focusing primarily on JavaScript I can say the guidance offered in JavaScript the Good Parts serves as a great code style guide reference. Once you learn why JavaScript works the way it does and where the potential land mines are you can create a solid, standard way for you and your team to write your scripts to avoid common pitfalls.

If you are a front-end web or Nodejs developer then you should have a copy of this book. Plan on reading it at least twice. I at least review the content once a year just to refresh my mind, even though the core concepts are just part of my natural programming style.

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