With friends like these…

Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

Douglas Crockford has a book on JavaScript out. JavaScript: The Good Parts is a short (170 pages), information-rich, opinionated book on why JavaScript is a great programming language in spite of its major shortcomings. Crockford has been writing about JS for many years and is a primary advocate for the language. The book is a good all-in-one summary of JavaScript and its less salubrious corners, but it’s a book I can’t quite like.

If you love the language (I do) you’ll know many of the problems that he identifies, and have felt as frustrated as he clearly does at some of them. I worry that the book reads like a love-letter to someone who one would dearly like to be perfect, but who isn’t (think My Funny Valentine). As a consequence, it seems (to me) to be more passionate about the bad parts than the good parts, which in turn might put people off learning more about JS. If this was the first book on the language I came across, I’m not sure I’d be inspired to follow through.

(In particular, though there are code fragments dotted through the book, mostly themed around providing syntactic sugar for implementation, there are no larger motivating examples of interesting things you can do with JS. When Pete Marks and I ran a Serious JavaScript session at SPA2007, we had people implementing classes with closures and in a classical object model, building an aspect system, and one or two brave souls took up our challenge of implementing monads…)

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