So You Want to Be a jQuery AJAX Developer? Here are Some Must Read Books

3-4 years ago I started my change from being an ASP.NET Webforms developer to being an ASP.NET AJAX application developer. This meant finally breaking down and learning how to create applications using JavaScript, a task I was not happy about. The first decision I had to make was what JavaScript framework to use and as you can tell by reading my blog it was jQuery.

Like most everyone else I was a terrible JavaScript programmer. Today, I am seasoned and still learning. But I had to start somewhere and I realize there are still many developers out there still starting to get up to speed with modern AJAX development and need some good guidance.

Since I have read so much online, books, videos and downloaded source code I thought today I would share some must read books with everyone.

jQuery In Action

My journey began with the jQuery In Action book and so should you. The book introduces you the core concepts needed to create jQuery applications. You will learn how to select and manipulate elements. It then demonstrates how to use events and animations to bring a page to life. It then goes into the jQuery utility functions and how to create plugins or jQuery extensions. It then goes into details of how to perform AJAX using jQuery. It wraps things up with a couple of chapters on the jQuery UI library.

jQuery Cookbook

The jQuery Cookbook is the #1 book I have recommended over the past 2 years. I love the approach each section has. It defines a problem/use case and a solid way to solve it using jQuery. It spares over the top complexity to create and explain solutions jQuery developers at any level can appreciate and understand. Along the way you develop a nice intimate knowledge of the jQuery library needed to be an effective web developer. Often I think of this book at the one that can give you the confidence to tackle just about any jQuery need.

JavaScript The Good Parts

This is Douglas Crockford’s book, the godfather of ECMAScript. Crockford has a very unique way of explaining the fundamental parts of how JavaScript works in JavaScript the Good Parts. This is the book that pushed my JavaScript skills beyond just being able to use fundamental jQuery concepts. For example this is where I learned about truthy and falsey conditional statements and why you should use === instead of == for equality statements.

JavaScript Patterns

To be honest I started reading JavaScript Patterns in the past week. There are a lot of extremely useful concepts explained in the pages. I found much of the first 2 chapters to be a rehash of Crockford’s book, but still useful. After that it make a progression into more and more complex aspect’s of architecting JavaScript applications. Again I am not finished, but I have done a quick overview of the remaining content and I am anxious to read the details. So much about making a high quality AJAX application is having understandable and maintainable patterns. This books does a good job of reviewing various patterns and methodologies and why you would use or not use various techniques. This includes the pros and cons of each pattern and various antipatterns.

jQuery UI 1.7: The User Interface Library for jQuery

jQuery UI is a turn key library to help make your site UX rock with a minimal amount of effort. There are not many books about the library, but the PackT jQuery UI 1.7: The User Interface Library for jQuery book is the easiest to read and understand. I still use it as a reference from time to time. One thing I like about it is it seems to extend the examples and demos provided in the online documentation. One thing that it does not do is keep pace with the rapidly updated library. jQuery UI is currently holding at version 1.14 and updating faster each month. Don’t let that worry you, the fundamentals covered by the jQuery UI 1.7 book have held steady.


Don’t take this as an exhaustive list, but one I personally feel will get you grounded on a solid jQuery foundation. The reality is nothing beats actually writing and using code. Personally I have been reflecting a lot on where I was 3-4 years ago when I began this journey and how different I approach web architecture now, much based on sheer experience. I read a lot of blogs and review numerous plugins, frameworks, examples and sites I like. Hopefully I can afford some time in the next week or so to review some blogs and other online resources I have found valuable.

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