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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Introduction to Interactive Programming on the Internet
Author:
Craig Knuckles
ISBN:
0 471 38366 X
Publisher:
Wiley
Pages:
423pp
Price:
£23-95
Reviewer:
Christopher Hill
Subject:
internet
Appeared in:
14-6
A college lecturer reviews current texts and finds them all lacking. So he writes his own course, refines it over two years while teaching from it, and then publishes the course with review questions, exercises and a support web site. It sounds like the book has every thing going in its favour.

Teaching is moving a student's understanding from what they currently know to what they want to learn (if you are lucky) and careful use of metaphor is a useful tool. But when the universal translator (as used by the USS Enterprise) is used as a metaphor for a URL, I begin to have my doubts - 'The URL is a device that uses a set of protocols to communicate on the WWW.' The author later explains that this 'device' does not really exist.

There is no reference to HTML standards, or XHTML. As far as I can guess the author is using 3.02, which is now long in the tooth and the text makes reference to '.not even new version 4 browsers.' -so it would appear that the text has not been updated over the 2-3 years of development.

There are too many errors to list here: - '.gb' for the United Kingdom TLD and 'http can only transport harmless files'; 'the typical computer has 72 pixel per inch' and so on.

The author wants the book to appeal to a wide audience, so PC and Mac screen shots are used using both IE and Navigator on both platforms, sometimes within the same teaching sequence. This makes it very difficult to see the specific point the author is making.

I have not used enough JavaScript to be able to comment on the accuracy of that part of the book. However, from general programming I know that Knuckles has an eccentric way of putting the programming process across, which I guess works for him, but I doubt it will appeal to a wider audience. Not recommended.