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Book Reviews

+ - Submission is pending for a long time

Submitted by dulepov
dulepov (1819966) writes "Hello!

Some time ago I submitted a book review to Slashdot. Here it is: http://slashdot.org/submission/1433988/Learning-ExtJS-32-book-review

I see that it is still pending. Is there a problem with my story? What can I do to clarify the status of my review (rejected/accepted)?

Thank you in advance for help.

Regards,
Dmitry Dulepov."

+ - Learning ExtJS 3.2 book review->

Submitted by dulepov
dulepov (1819966) writes "If you are a JavaScript developer, I am sure you have heard about ExtJS. ExtJS is an open source JavaScript framework with a large set of features. With ExtJS it is possible to create desktop-like applications inside the web browser. ExtJS API is rich and powerful, may be the most powerful among JavaScript frameworks (though your opinion may be different if you prefer another framework).

Extensive set of features makes ExtJS a very popular framework. But rich set of features comes with the cost: the framework is complex. While many frameworks can be learnt from source, with ExtJS it is not the case. Syntax of object-oriented programming in JavaScript could be very difficult to understand and ExtJS sources demonstrate that. As a practical programmer, I think that the best way to learn ExtJS is to read a good book and follow examples inside.

The ExtJS book I got was published by Packt Publishing. It is called "Learning ExtJS 3.2". I consider myself experienced ExtJS developer but there are always more experienced developers and the book was written by several of them.

This book is written by several active participants of ExtJS forums: Shea Frederick, Colin Ramsay, Steve 'Cutter' Blades and Nigel White. It contains seventeen chapters and 394 pages, which makes the book 2 centimeters thick.

When I looked through the table of contents, I realized that it is one of those rare books that suits all kind of readers: from beginners to advanced. The book starts from "Getting ExtJS" chapter. It discusses why ExtJS is different, how to get it, where to put it, etc. While this may seem like a chapter for beginners, I read it with interest and found several advices I will use in my next project. The opening chapter also tells what to do if the developer sees error messages. This is another advantage of the book: it is highly practical.

Next chapters describe how to use ExtJS. Here is what is covered: getting elements, creating and using forms, working with menus and toolbars, displaying and editing data with grids, using layouts for components (you can quickly rearrange objects by just applying another layout), creating tree controls, using windows and dialogs. There are also chapters about charts, effects and drag-and-drop. In addition there is a chapter about extending ExtJS. This area is probably one of the most difficult for programmers because this is not what the developer can find in the ExtJS package. The topic about extending ExtJS takes 38 pages, so it is really well covered.

Another interesting topic discussed in the book is data transfer between the browser and the server. There are traditional ways (such as AJAX) but ExtJS and the book go further discussing remote method invocation from the client on the server using ExtDirect. ExtDirect is a hot topic in the ExtJS community because it greatly simplifies communication between the client and the server. Thus the developer can save development time.

The final chapter in the book talks about useful additions to ExtJS such as HTML editor, state management on the browser side, using AIR, etc. It also describes several community extensions to ExtJS (such as TinyMCE and SwfUploadPanel) and how to use them.

The book contains a lot of examples, so the reader can learn through them. One side note here (and a recommandation to Packt editors): I found that spacing in the examples could be smaller to avoid line wraps. Reading of examples would be easier if spacing is reduced. Truly speaking, this is the only bad thing I can tell about the book.

Despite being experienced in ExtJS and using it since version 1.x, I found a lot of good tips in this book. It is really useful and now lives on the shelf among good programming books. So if you need a good learning resource about ExtJS, I can definitely recommend "Learning ExtJS 3.2" from Packt Publishing.

P.S. Current version of ExtJS at the time of writing of this review is 3.3.1. That does not make the book obsolete at all."

Link to Original Source

+ - Correction needed!->

Submitted by dulepov
dulepov (1819966) writes "Hello!

The title of my submission went wrong. It looked ok in preview but went wrong after saving. I am unable to correct it. Please fix it to:
Book review: "Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook"

Thanks,
Dmitry Dulepov."

Link to Original Source
Books

+ - Book review: “Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cook

Submitted by
Dmitry Dulepov
Dmitry Dulepov writes "Magento is a very popular open source e-commerce platform. It was created by the company named Varien in 2007. Varien worked with osCommerce but it did not suit Varien's expanding requirements. After writing more and more changes to osCommerce, Varien finally wrote its own e-commerce software from scratch. It took Varien seven months in 2007 to publish the first public version of Magento (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magento#History).

Since that time Magento started to get popularity and now it is one of the most popular and advanced e-commerce solutions available. The list of companies who uses Magento is huge. Most beautiful and successful shops are listed at www.magentoshowcase.co.uk.

Magento is very powerful. But power comes with its costs. Magento can be complex to users. Fortunately there are lots of books available for those who want to set up their web stores using Magento. Some of these books were released by Packt Publishing, the company known to focus on practical books.

Recently Packt released a somewhat unusual book. It is called "Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook". The book is written by William Rice, who is a software training specialist from New York city. As a trainer, William has a way to explain difficult concepts in an easy way: a gift necessary in case of Magento. Let's have a look at his latest Magento book!

"Magento 1.3 Sales Tactics Cookbook" consists from ten chapters. Here is a list of chapters:
1. Attracting visitors
2. Placing Products on Shopping Sites
3. Driving Visitors to Your Product Pages
4. Making the Sale by Optimizing Product Pages
5. Increasing the Sale
6. Offering and Advertising Promotions
7. Engage Your Customers
8. Let Your Customer Speak
9. Internationalization
10. Create a Wholesale Store

That may sound like a typical generic book on improving online sales but it is not. Basic principles for online commerce will be always the same but if one wants to implement them for exact platform (Magento), this book tells exactly how to do it.

Each chapter consists from several topics. Topics consist from four parts:
- Getting ready
- How to do it...
- How it works...
- There's more...

Each section is a set of instructions that tell the reader how to quickly and efficiently achieve their goals.

Let's see what recipes each chapter has to offer.

Chapter 1 is about making users come to your store. It talks about adding meta tags, optimizing images, creating site maps and keeping them up to date. The very first topic tells how to add meta tags to product pages. "Getting ready" section describes constraints and requirements to fulfill before the task can be performed. For example, for meta tags it says that access to the administration interface is necessary, research about best keywords and customer expectations should be made. "How to do it..." section follows with detailed instructions about adding meta tags. It asks the reader to log in to the Magento backend, select correct menu items and edit products. Most of steps are illustrated with large images and example content in them. Thus it becomes very easy to follow directions. Example texts are also very good.

"How it works..." section shows the reader how to verify that keywords and description appear on the page. It also describes how search engines may use this information to show search results for the user. This section also talks about choosing better keywords.

"There's more..." section provides useful links that should help the reader to get started with the task.

Other advices in this section include optimizing image usage by using better titles and descriptions, improving site title, adding a site map and making Magento update it. All advices come with great level of details. If the reader is completely new to any of these topics, she or he will have no problem following these instructions.

Chapter 2 talks about importance of placing products on shopping sites. It gives a complete set of instructions to add products to Google. Google is a major search engine, so any shop would benefit from having Google list its products. As in the previous chapter, the reader is guided from the very beginning (such as creating a Google account) to the final step. The instructions are written so that the reader can proceed to the step she or he needs directly (for example, use his existing Google account).

Chapter 3 talks about creating information pages in Magento that would drive people to product pages. Selling is like a science. It is not enough to drop a couple of good looking images and dummy text and start making cash. To sell stuff effectively one needs to make customers want to buy that stuff. One of the ways is write about shop's goods in the attractive way. This chapter shows how to write about products and make customers love them. It is not typical blah-blah advices that anybody can find online for free. It is a real guide on creating a version of the page, looking at it critically and improving it. Most of such pages will become landing pages when users search for products.

Chapter 4 talks about making pages more interesting to users. This includes adding video, writing stories and changing the layout of product pages. Also it shows an interesting technique to customize products to customers. Each of us like to feel that product is made specially for us. This chapter explains how to make it and gives examples.

Another really good advice in this chapter is about images. Any reader will get a very interesting hint on using images better. The author of this review really liked the idea and had to resist a temptation to repeat it here. No, the reader had to get read it in the book because the limited size of this review does not allow to tell the necessary level of details of this nice technique.

Chapter 5 describes how to increase sales with upselling, using related products, cross-sells, etc. With upselling the customer can get more products similar to the one purchased. That really works. Upselling can help customers to get more of they want. Related products play similar role but they show products that look alike or close in some way to the product that the customers wants to purchase. There are also other options to sell more products. They are described in this chapter.

Chapter 6 is about using promotional pricing effectively. It is not a secret that we all love promotions and discounts. Magento products can have a set of rules that define price change when more items added to the cart. This chapter teaches how to use these rules.

Chapter 7 shows the way to engage customers using customized e-mails, RSS and newsletters. There is also a discussion of using social networking to increase sales. Newsletters slowly use their power and considered to be spam by many customers, social networking is ascending. This chapter gives valuable advices about using social networking to boost sales.

Chapter 8 is about getting customer's feedback through various tools. While there are tons of shops on the Internet, many people go to Amazon first (and often buy there). It happens because Amazon not only sells, it also allows customers to review products. When people read good reviews, they become engaged. Seeing a positive review highly increases chances that more customers will buy the product. This chapter tells the reader how to manage feedback from customers.

Chapter 9 talks about a complex topic of internationalization and improving international sales. Magento has several ways to translate products and pages. This chapter shows the best way to do it. Also the reader will learn about installing language packs and adjusting URLs for international stores.

Chapter 10 talks about creating a wholesale stores. Wholesale customers are different from regular customers in several ways. In particular, they usually do not pay sales tax. This chapter describes how to use the same physical Magento installation to serve both types of customers. It gives several serious benefits. For example, amount of products will always be correct.

These are all chapters of the book. The book is really great. As the author of this review, I am really fascinated by this book. I knew some basics but I found that this book contains so much useful techniques that I am glad I came across this book. It is really useful. William Rice is a great author and once again he wrote a great Magento book. Many ideas and advices will be valid also for non-Magento store owners but Magento users will benefit a lot.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely! This book is a must for any Magento shop owner.

The copy of the book was provided to me by Packt Publishing. Packt Publishing never asked me to write anything particular or change my texts. This and all my other reviews represent my true opinion about reviewed books."

"Don't talk to me about disclaimers! I invented disclaimers!" -- The Censored Hacker

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