Like other cookbooks in the O'Reilly library, this one is organized as a series of specific problems, with their solutions neatly presented and grouped into the major chapters. Each solution has a discussion to flesh out the details. The website has downloadable copies of the examples in the book, which I used to test out the various recipes. ECMAScript 5 is fairly new, and HTML5 is still under development, so I made sure I had the latest stable versions of the major browsers (Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari) to see how they would cope. The HTML5 features are very sparsely supported as of yet, so those portions of the book should be considered more of a sampling of things to come rather than a definitive set of solutions.
Chapter 3 covers dates, time, and timers. Handling dates is shown to be pretty straightforward, and one-shot and recurring timers are presented in a clear, easy-to-understand manner to wrap up the chapter. The next chapter, Working with Number and Math, consists mostly of basic mathematical solutions. The fifth chapter rounds up the basics with recipes for working with arrays and loops. As a Perl programmer, I found this to be familiar territory – especially the discussions of the splice and map method, and using associative arrays.
We would all like each browser to work just like another but, unfortunately, each one has its own quirks. Chapter 8 talks about the various ways browsers handle color support and page sizes. The chapter ends by dealing with dynamic pages and bookmarking their state.
All programming involves error handling and usually some debugging. Chapter 10 describes the various ways to handle errors, followed by a well-written set of tips on how to use the debuggers and inspectors for the major browsers.
The following three chapters all deal with manipulating web pages. The first of these contained a lot of discussion of namespaces. Namespaces can be confusing, and I didn't really understand them much better after I was finished reading. In addition, you are presented with several boilerplate templates, with little information as to why you would use them. I also had problems with some of the downloaded samples not running correctly on my browsers. Chapter 12 contains lots of fun ways to manipulate page content, with specific instructions on how to handle IE and its different ways of doing things. Finally, chapter 13 provided some good basics of page manipulation, including creating collapsible sections, and creating tab pages.
Accessibility is the major topic of chapter 14, where you are introduced to ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications). Many web pages are not built with accessibility in mind, so this chapter is very important for giving the web designer the tools for well-designed and usable pages. Some ARIA techniques are straightforward, but others (such as creating collapsible form sections) are much more complex to get right. This chapter does a marvelous job, even though it is somewhat hard to read.
The next chapter covers creating media-rich and interactive applications. This chapter was pretty deep, and the examples were not necessarily bad, but the techniques required need the coder to really think clearly about how to accomplish their goal.
Communication via Ajax is the main topic for the recipes of chapter 18. Without a proper web server at my disposal, I could not properly evaluate the workability of the solutions. I was also somewhat amused that one of the solutions was described with the caveat that it's not a recommended procedure. I would ask why it was included in that case.
The penultimate chapter covered the issues around persistent information. While using URLs and cookies to maintain some state are discussed, much of this chapter revolves around new capabilities made available in the new HTML5 specifications. Unfortunately, most browsers either do not support, or only partially support these features, so the information is only useful as a "taste of things to come".