Douglas Crockford’s JavaScript: The Good Parts is the best kind of language tutorial. It is concise, it is opinionated, and it does not condescend.

On the “concise” front, this book weighs in at exactly 100 pages, excluding appendices. In comparison, a generic Beginner’s Guide to Javascript-type book at Amazon might run 500 pages. And it’s not because that 500 page book is “deeper” or has more information; it’s because a lot of tech writers love to pad things out to insane length. I don’t know why, but it’s undeniably true. Fortunately, Crockford wasn’t paid by the pound, and is able to write a short book.

On the opinionated front, boy howdy is he ever. It turns out Crockford has been involved in a number of rows in the Javascript community, and is a contentious, opinionated guy. His opinions are evident in full force here — including, really, the whole concept of the book, which is that he’s only going to talk about the good parts of the language and will only give a few warnings about the bad parts. (Appendix B, though, is all about the Bad Parts. Appendix A is about the Awful Parts.)

As for condescending, the book practically demands that you’re already familiar with functional programming to some degree. If you’re not, the main thing you’ll get out of the book is, “Man, I need to learn something about functional programming.” Crockford spends three pages explaining how closures work in Javascript; he spends a half-page on currying. If you’re familiar with these concepts, this is just about perfect. If not, well, you’ll probably want to get familiar first.

Recommended to people who have been dismissive of JavaScript (though there are fewer of those around these days) and who enjoy functionally-oriented languages like Lisp or modern C#.


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