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Book Review: Learning the Yahoo! User Interface Library

We've published many of Dan Wellman's articles here on Dev Articles, so it's a particular pleasure to review his first book. Learning the Yahoo! User Interface Library, published by UK-based Packt Publishing, promises to ease the job of JavaScript developers building web-based programs. Let's take a look between the covers.

Author Info:
By: Terri Wells
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 8
August 12, 2008
  1. · Book Review: Learning the Yahoo! User Interface Library
  2. · What's a YUI?
  3. · AJAX, Animation and Buttons, Oh My!
  4. · Navigating the Rest of the Way

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Book Review: Learning the Yahoo! User Interface Library - Navigating the Rest of the Way
(Page 4 of 4 )

Chapter seven deals with navigation and AutoComplete. Wellman shows you how to put together a basic navigation menu with the YUI library, as well as an application style menu bar and a right-click context menu. It looks surprisingly easy to do. The AutoComplete control does what you would expect: add typing suggestions when someone is putting text in a text field. The YUI library just gives you the front end of this control, so you'll have to create your own suggestion engine or use a third party for your back-end data source.

Wellman covers content containers and tabs in chapter eight. Oddly, the Container control in the YUI library is not actually a control, but a family of container-like controls that let you create different kinds of visuals for your website. These include modules, panels, tooltips, dialog boxes, and so forth. As to tabs, it's not at all surprising that the YUI library includes a TabView control, since it's used extensively on Yahoo's own web site. Wellman shows you that creating tabs is quick and easy with the TabView control, unlike more traditional methods (this also makes sense, given that programmers never want to make more work for themselves than they have to).

Users may love drag and drop operations on web pages, but they're a bear to code – unless you're using the YUI library's drag and drop capabilities, which Wellman covers in detail in chapter nine. Finally, in chapter ten, he explains how to debug code written with the YUI library by using Logger. The developers behind the YUI library understand the importance of debugging; that's why they created Logger. It isn't used in production applications; as Wellman explains, it is “just for you, the developer, to assist you primarily in the design phase of your site or application, but also in maintenance or upgrade phases as and when required.”

As I observed before, the content of the book as a whole is comprehensive and detailed. Wellman's writing style is easy to understand, allowing you to see the implications behind the adaptations you can make to each control. As an editor, however, I must admit that I found myself drawn up short a number of times by typos. Most were pretty obvious, but I winced when I saw that some of them concerned code.

Elizabeth Connick, in reviewing the book on Amazon's web site, noted that “in several code samples 'var' (the JavaScript statement that's used to declare a variable) was typed with a capital 'V.' For the uninitiated, JavaScript is case sensitive so 'Var' will NOT work and your program will fail.” Ouch. Please keep this in mind when you transcribe code samples from the book.

On the other hand, Connick did give the book four out of five stars, and I'd have to give it an eight out of ten myself. If you want to learn how to use the YUI library, and wish you had someone with a thorough knowledge of the subject sitting beside you to walk you through it, this book is the next best thing. 

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