Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook Book Review

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook by Packt Publishing. This review has not been altered in any way as a result of that circumstance, and as always contains my honest opinion.

I’m a public facing jQuery fanboy and I’ll admit it. At the same time, however, I like to keep my eye on what else is going on in the world of JavaScript. Although it may seem like it to the design community, jQuery is not the end-all-be-all JavaScript solution. In fact, the design community is most enamored by jQuery simply because it makes writing JavaScript so simple, even to a fault. Many designers simply copy and paste until things work the way they’d like, even if it wasn’t an original intention.

I try my best to keep up to date with other JavaScript libraries/frameworks not only to help my personal curiosity, but I also see the true value of knowing JavaScript instead of knowing jQuery. The two are very different, and that’s something to keep in mind. As a quick refresher, Ext JS is defined as:

Ext JS is a cross-browser JavaScript library for building rich internet applications. It includes:

  • High performance, customizable UI widgets
  • Well designed and extensible Component model
  • An intuitive, easy to use API
  • Commercial and Open Source licenses available

As it’s defined, the goals of Ext JS are a bit unique when compared to other JavaScript libraries out there in that it totes itself as being aimed at building rich Internet applications. It does that my mimicking many of the interactions and UI elements we’ve become familiar with by using computers in general.

Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook by Jorge Ramon

Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook book cover

Not too long ago, I read my first Ext JS book, Learning Ext JS. I learned a lot in that book, as I don’t have much day to day experience with Ext. If you’re brand new to the framework, I’d definitely suggest starting with a book such as Learning Ext JS instead of something like the Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook. Learning Ext JS is much more of an introduction to the framework, while the Cookbook is more technical in nature, and focuses on solving specific problems with Ext JS, as opposed to learning about it. As defined by the author:

Get solutions to common Ext JS usage scenarios, to build professional layouts, custom components, and flexible architectures with clear and easy-to-follow recipes.

The author’s experience with Ext JS enables him to share insights on using the Ext JS library effectively, in a clear and friendly way, giving practical hands-on solutions to problems, questions, and common tasks encountered in the development of rich internet applications.

From the first page in this book you’re already working with the Ext object. The subtitle for the book is 109 great recipes for building impressive rich internet applications using the Ext JS JavaScript library and you dive right in. The first chapter includes recipes titled:

  • Detecting browsers and platforms used by clients
  • Retrieving DOM nodes and elements
  • Acquiring references to Ext JS components
  • Running high-performance DOM queries

There are about a dozen more recipes in the first chapter alone, but they’re all grouped as DOM and Data Types, the Ext JS Way.

The format of the book

Again, this book is labeled as a cookbook, and it follows that convention quite well. It’s meant to be a reference of sorts, with many different implementations and solutions. What I like about this format is that it lets you quickly discover the capabilities of Ext JS all the while learning by application. There’s a nice format for each recipe that mostly follows:

  1. Definition/explanation of the recipe
  2. The How to do it…… section
  3. The How it works… section
  4. The There’s more… section
  5. The See also… section

This reoccurring pattern really helps you quickly find what you’re looking for, especially when you’re using the recipe as a refresher as opposed to initial discovery.

If you’re already familiar with Ext JS and looking to boost your knowledge about what the framework is capable of, I’d definitely suggest checking out Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook by Jorge Ramon. It’s chock full of to-the-point examples using plenty of code to work with, and lots of supporting information to boot.