Reviewed: ExtJS 3.0 Cookbook

There is a quantity of snow falling outside as I write this and that means it’s a good day to read programming books. I’ve recently been enjoying the ExtJS 3.0 Cookbook by Jorge Ramon that is published by the Packt group. I’ve been using ExtJS for the last year and have experienced the transition from version 2.0 to 3.0 and have been rather pleased with the results it has delivered for numerous web projects I’ve coded. After trying many other JS kits and frameworks including Jquery, Mootools, and several others I have generally settled on ExtJS to solve the layout and user interface parts of my applications because of its ease of use and flexible nature for expansion. The framework is an extension of the Yahoo javascript framework, otherwise known as YUI, but with many quality extensions. This book comes as a welcome guide to the general tasks that the framework will solve as well as some of the more unique and in-depth items that it can provide. Quite simply it’s a book with over a hundred examples of all the best features of the ExtJS framework. The examples are well explained with detailed write-ups that are fun to read. The examples also have immediately usable code for dropping into place or modifying for your own needs. If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing framework or are already acquainted and need a quick guide to expand your abilities, then this will be a good reference to own. Before I get going you can see the book here.

The book starts out with an overview of the way that ExtJS handles DOM and data types, which is all very basic stuff but required understanding as well. It’s a good start to understanding the base elements if you are a bit rusty. It’s also a good chapter to see how ExtJS handles them since it might not be what you are used to if coming from another framework. After enough pages to answer most typical questions of that topic the book dives into the UI building aspects of the framework. This is where things get really good as I’ve always enjoyed how the framework builds UI for the web. You get examples for containers and positioning, accordion functionality, card and tab based windowing, column and table layouts, and the windowing functions for full browser UI building. I’ve used many of these features all in one layout and the results are a effective and efficient manner of data distribution and information organization for content driven sites. The book even covers dynamic building of UI elements, which comes in handy for a user interface that grows and changes with the needs of the user.

After you build your UI you need methods to get content into the application and ways that the user can interact with the app. The book addresses these needs as well. Plenty of examples abound for all of the required manners that users will be using forms, date fields, combo boxes, remote data loading via JSON and XML, as well as covering grid panels and data tables. Of course it must be mentioned that there are numerous examples that discuss the AJAX features of ExtJS since this is one of it’s major strengths and successes. If there’s a way to use remote data calls via XML or JSON, it is covered in this book. We also get a nice run down of trees and tab data which is inevitably useful for many purposes. If you are interested in progress bars and customized progress circles the book covers those with over 20 pages of examples. Just before the topics are finished off Jorge covers the functions for building rich charts and graphs. Details involve static data display, remote data display, as well as auto-refresh of data for realtime charting. Patterns, class extensions, plugins, and ‘keeping state’ are the last topics of the book. They offer quality methods for customizing ExtJS with your own JS code and keeping the user’s data consistent between sessions.

Overall this is one of the best books I’ve read about ExtJS. It’s as if the author took all of the items that I had to research over the last year of using the framework and put the solutions all into a nicely readable form with quality code examples that are explained in a useful manner. If you are looking for a book that touches upon the most common and some of the more esoteric options of the ExtJS framework but don’t feel like scouring the online forums and hundreds of pages of documentation then this is the book for you. If you haven’t already built your own code for the features that the chapters discuss then the examples given will save you time and get your projects up and running fast and efficiently.

One thought on “Reviewed: ExtJS 3.0 Cookbook

  1. Jorge says:

    Hey Mat,

    Thank you for taking time to review the Ext JS 3.0 Cookbook. I’m glad you found it useful.

    Best regards,

    Jorge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>