Review of jQuery Hotshot by Dan Wellman

JavaScript is something I have been trying to get better at for a couple of years now, and I’ve been concentrating on writing vanilla JS while paying very little attention to libraries such as jQuery. However I realise jQuery isn’t going to go away. I will have to deal with it in other people’s code and I still use it to cover my ass for things like AJAX, where I wouldn’t be confident that I could write good cross browser vanilla JS.

When Dan Wellman asked on twitter if anyone would like to review his latest book on jQuery I took the opportunity for selfish reasons as much as anything else. If I could take a brief interlude from vanilla JS to brush up on jQuery, why not.

jQuery Hotshot is nothing like what I was expecting, and in a good way. There is only the briefest of introductions to how jQuery works then straight into a tour de force of some pretty impressive real world examples of what can be done with jQuery. From a simple game, through UI enhancements, advanced Google Maps API developments, jQuery Mobile, the HTML5 file API and plenty more.

I really like Dan’s writing style. To me it seems relaxed and comfortable and I was able to follow along with the code and explanations without any bother.

It’s obvious Dan knows what he’s talking about and the first few pages of the first chapter will convince you if you have your doubts about his expertise. Absolutely top drawer.

The thing that impressed me most about the book was the constant refrain of best practices in the background, and not just with regard to jQuery. Yes, there was a chapter dedicated to the best way to write a jQuery plugin — and if you write a lot of jQuery plugins this chapter might just be worth the price of the book in itself — but Dan also talks about good practice when writing CSS (with a nod to CSS Lint), he points to articles on general JavaScript development, and gives a nod to accessibility.

One thing I wasn’t so keen on was the spy astronaut headings in each chapter. I thought they went just that little bit too far past fun and quirky into annoying and distracting, but they’re only headings so didn’t get in my way too much and may well make the book more readable for other people.

Another thing that wasn’t so hot was that the download to accompany the book didn’t work for me at all. I tried a few times over a couple of weeks in different browsers, but no dice unfortunately. Hopefully the publishers will have that sorted soon.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking to use jQuery. It’s a real eye-opener and I’d be surprised if you didn’t learn plenty about the library and its capabilities, and indeed plenty about web development in general.

If you would like to buy jQuery Hotshot you can get it on Amazon at or the publisher Packt at (those aren’t affiliate links).

Finally I’d like to point out that apart from a free copy of the book as an ebook I didn’t get paid for this review. It’s my honest opinion of the book and my only connection to Dan is the very occasional conversation in the public timeline on twitter.