Book Review: Ember.js Cookbook by Erik Hanchett

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emberjs cookbook

Once you get beyond the Ember learning curve you’ll be left with endless possibilities. I love the Ember library because it’s one of the few frontend frameworks that has a tight-knit and lovable community.

Moving into real Ember development takes time and effort. But with some handy resources like the Ember.js Cookbook it becomes a lot easier.

I really enjoyed this cookbook and found it to be the perfect reference for building custom Ember apps from scratch. It has over 100 recipes each solving common Ember problems.

Granted the library does update quickly, so it seems like print mediums wouldn’t be the best resources. But the code snippets still work great and feel more relevant than ever.

Book Contents

Clocking in at just over 300 pages, the author of this cookbook Erik Hanchett offers 100+ unique recipes for Ember development. These range from basic setup & maintenance of models to OAuth with Ember and custom animations with Liquid Fire.

Each chapter covers a variety of Ember features with a brief introduction to each one. You get 11 chapters in total:

  1. Ember CLI Basics
  2. The Ember.Object Model
  3. Ember Templates
  4. Ember Router
  5. Ember Controllers
  6. Ember Components
  7. Ember Models and Ember Data
  8. Logging, Debugging, and Testing
  9. Real-Life Tasks with Ember.js
  10. Awesome Tasks with Ember
  11. Real-Time Web Applications

I found this cookbook to be a little different than all the rest. Each chapter starts with an explanation of the topic at hand, what problem you’re solving, and how it fits into the Ember workflow.

Because of these introductions I might even recommend this book to newcomers who still don’t know much about Ember’s full architecture. You can sorta learn as you go and the code snippets, while rather advanced, can still be studied in great detail.

liquid fire homepage

The earlier chapters are much easier for beginners who barely know the basics(MVC, templates, routes) along with people who want to learn the Ember CLI.

Erik follows a no-nonsense approach with his examples and recipes. You study from practical codes that can actually be applied in the real world.

I learned the most from chapter 8 talking about debugging and unit testing. I’ve never done this with an Ember application but I was able to follow along comfortably based on his examples.

The later chapters get into more advanced topics and the last chapter delves into real time responses. I’m actually surprised how much detail is covered before the recipes are even introduced.

I won’t be bold enough to say that a complete beginner can pick up this book and learn Ember. However I do think this cookbook can provide an excellent resource to a beginner while they study the basics from another book like Ember.js Web Development.

Each chapter slowly progresses further in difficulty so the contents are organized well for a complete beginner. However these recipes cannot help you master MVC or architecture so you’ll need another learning resource to pair with this cookbook if you’re starting from scratch.

Pros & Cons

Familiarity with Ember is not a big problem with this book. The intros for each chapter help you understand what you’re learning and how it fits into an Ember workflow.

In this regard content outperforms what I expected. The recipes are obviously great, but it’s the explanations that really caught my attention.

Pros:

  • Intros for each chapter cover the technical basics of each feature
  • Easy to skip around to different chapters and study what you want
  • Progressive difficulty which makes this safe for beginners
  • Clear explanations regarding how to implement the code properly

Cons:

  • Not as much API content as I’d hoped
  • Somewhat linear in development & teaching style

I can’t get over how much content is packed into this book. With only 306 pages I would’ve expected shorter recipes or basically no explanations. Instead we got both and Erik’s writing style is super easy to understand.

The biggest complaint I have is the linear fashion of each chapter. You’re taught how to study each recipe in a very straightforward matter. It feels like there’s little wiggle room to apply these codes into other examples—or at least the freedom to explore other applications doesn’t get emphasized enough.

Since I’m recommending this to beginners the linear style of learning might actually become an advantage. When you don’t even know what to build you’ll appreciate a professional telling you what to do.

But those in the middle ground may not have enough experience to solve their own ideas in code, therefore struggling to implement these recipes for custom solutions.

However I think that’s just part of being a developer. Nobody knows everything and the only way to improve is to try and fail.

Thankfully the Ember.js Cookbook will help you avoid failure as often as possible and guide you through the best possible solutions for each chapter.

Models, routes, and basic controllers are covered in great detail along with D3.js and other 3rd party applications.

This book’s greatest strength is how wide it goes. You don’t need to even read the routes chapter if you want to skip ahead to OAuth and API development. This flux along with the detailed introductions make this book perfect for any level JS developer.

Who Is This For?

If you’re brand new to Ember I do think you could work you way through this book provided you have another study resource handy.

This cookbook is not meant to teach you the fundamentals of Ember architecture. But in his own unique way Erik still seems to do this, making the book perfect for beginners and experts alike.

Whether you need to learn more about connecting Embe with Firebase, building a custom chat application on Ember, or just mastering the fundamentals of Ember routes, every diverse need can be satisfied with this cookbook.

It basically reaches across a full audience of anyone interested in Ember.js.

Those who have little-to-no understanding of MVC architecture really need to read up before diving into this book. However I believe once you’re past the learning curve Ember.js can feel even more organized than Angular, making it the perfect frontend library(and making this cookbook a wonderful companion).

Final Summary

Content, presentation, and writing style excel in Erik Hanchett’s Ember.js Cookbook.

His recipes are incredibly helpful and he actually takes the time to explain why his code snippets work the way they do. I’m amazed how much work went into this book and the actual examples used in each chapter are phenomenal.

Because of the linear style of teaching I can’t give this a perfect score. I do love Erik’s example of the chat application for real-time Ember development, but it left me wanting to build something else without the proper guidance to do so.

However freeform guidance isn’t the point of a cookbook, so my complaining seems at least a bit unwarranted.

The Ember.js Cookbook is the best study & reference resource for any Ember developer from an inept novice to an advanced SPA web dev. If it was a bit longer with more full-app examples I’d have given this a perfect score. Even considering what you can find online this is still one of the best resources you’ll ever own for Ember development.

emberjs cookbook cover

Review Rating: 4.5/5