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JavaScript creativity : exploring the modern capabilities of JavaScript and HTML5
Hudson S., Apress, Berkeley, CA, 2014. 184 pp. Type: Book (978-1-430259-44-2)
Date Reviewed: Dec 31 2014

This is a nice overview of graphics (2D and 3D) and music manipulation in JavaScript. It covers the multimedia features of up-to-date web browsers, and also presents dedicated programming techniques and libraries to access a webcam, peer-to-peer networks, and setting up a JavaScript server. The book is example based and employs didactic and practical scenarios.

The book is very well written and easy to read, even for non-native English readers. The chapters are nicely structured, making the book pleasant to read from beginning to end. It begins with a gentle summary of what readers actually need for a confortable reading, including debugging and profiling techniques (a tricky topic in the JavaScript world, by the way). Small examples are first presented (image processing and music generation), which are reconsidered and extended in later chapters. This makes for an entertaining and natural story. Most chapters contain notes to explore a topic deeper. I appreciate the appendix, which gives links to additional academic and practical resources.

Examples grow alongside the chapters in expressiveness and complexity, but not much in code size, which is remarkable for this kind of book. Instead, examples are rather short to write, well explained, and accessible from online resources. Frequently, books about advanced programming give large portions of source code, which quickly discourages the reader from typing everything in. The book smartly avoids this classical mistake by using appropriate libraries and incrementally built examples.

Discussion of code quality is also a very positive surprise from the book. Books with an artistic perspective are often weak on code quality. For example, chapter 2 uses refactoring to make the code modular and easy to read.

On the downside, some readers may find the explanations about Node.js and Socket.IO a bit light (chapter 7). A couple of paragraphs explaining what these frameworks are all about would have made chapter 7 easier for JavaScript novices. Also, the introduction to WebRTC and the technologies behind it are a bit harsh for non-experts in networks (chapter 8). However, this is far from being too critical to enjoy the chapter.

The book is intended for an audience with solid programming skills, primarily programmers with a strong interest in seeing what web browsers are up to. A programmer with light knowledge about JavaScript should not feel disoriented.

I very much enjoyed reading this book. I am an academic in software engineering, deeply involved in many software developments. I have learnt many things about image processing and music composition, two topics in which I have no background at all. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer:  Alexandre Bergel Review #: CR143043 (1504-0256)
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