KillerSites Blog

Book Review: Head Rush AJAX

May 16, 2006

Head Rush AJAX targets web designers who have a basic understanding of JavaScript.

A couple of points:

  • A great book for beginners.
  • This book is not well suited for experienced Web programmers because the pace is probably too slow.

Using clever layouts and graphics, along with an easy to understand writing style, Head Rush AJAX makes AJAX very approachable for web designers.


AJAX is essentially the combination of technologies (JavaScript, DOM, CSS) built into all modern browsers that allows you to create web apps that act like (from the users perspective,) desktop applications – the so-called ‘rich user experience’. AJAX is used to send data to and from the server, and then display it in a web page, in a seamless way.

AJAX is typically coupled with a server-side technology like:

  • PHP
  • Java/J2EE

The server-side languages/environments are used to grab data (say from a database like MySQL) and then hand it off the to AJAX scripts. Wisely, Head Rush AJAX uses PHP as the server-side language to play this role*.

*PHP was the best choice because most web designers are going to jump into PHP over any other language because PHP is easy to learn and is ubiquitous.


By starting with simple concepts and examples, the book gently takes the reader from humble beginnings to (by the end of the book) where the reader should be comfortable creating AJAX based websites.

Some highlights:

  • Great examination of basic concepts.
  • Good tutorial on DOM scripting – a key component of AJAX
  • Nice comparison between AJAX with XML vs. AJAX with JSON – a lightweight JavaScript data format

Probably the best web designer centric book on AJAX.

Stefan Mischook (Web Design Heretic)