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Review of haXe 2 Beginner's Guide

posted Oct 12, 2011, 2:50 PM by Nikolay Krasko   [ updated Oct 12, 2011, 2:51 PM ]
Last weekend I’ve finished reading of “haXe 2 Beginner's Guide” which I was gifted by the publisher in exchange of making a review. So here it’s.

Writing a book about haxe seems to me extremely difficult because of the language multi platform nature, constant improvement process and a variety of projects related to the haxe. And I’m glad that Benjamin Dasnois started this great work of collection knowledge about haxe in a book format. This is the first edition and certainly there are a number of things I would suggest to improve.

My main complaint is to extreme brevity. Of course a small size is good for a book, but text often doesn't explain why things are so as they are, only enlists strict facts about the language without discussion, gets you know about alternatives or providing a list of advantages and disadvantages. OOP concepts definitions from my point of view are currently poor and I’m sure that it should be said in preface that a reader must be familiar with at least one OOP language to follow the author’s ideas easily.

The other thing I was very disappointed about is a low quality of the code snippets. Examples contain dead code, number of compile errors, absence of single code style and bad indentation. Also almost everywhere in the book single line comments spread across several lines and that produces errors after copying code into a text editor. As  a result there’s a strong feeling of incompleteness and mediocrity. Hope it will be corrected as soon as possible.

In my opinion there are still enough unexposed places in the book without further references (e.g.  how I can make types comparable, what is the range of integer, performance discussion and targets nuances). Some links to the documentation or even well-known discussions in mailing lists would be very useful if it is not possible to include that information into the book.

There are several things I would recommend to add to this book. A full description of haxe compiler options because it's not clear how to work with the given examples. More steps how to setup environment for running examples for those who is unfamiliar with described target platform. Also I think that there should be more explanation and some comparisons with other languages to know why one should prefer haxe instead of using them. A fair description of current haXe problems and their possible solutions could enclose a useful chapter. And surely I should mention that book doesn’t consider C++ target and has no information about macroses.

On the other hand I was glad to get know about templates and SPOD library in haXe and will definitely try to play with them closer. There is a good chapter how to feel comfortable in the community that is very important for haxe beginners.

On the whole “haXe 2 Beginner's Guide” in current version is an overview of some haXe possibilities. It could be useful for those who is familiar with OOP concepts and wants to see main features of haxe without a lot of details but with some examples. And It’s probably OK to have an eBook version to support author and to give a chance for making a new edition.
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