This title is Munich-based freelance software consultant Patrick Mulder’s attempt to give an introduction to web development with the Backbone.js ecosystem—in less then 200 pages. A difficult endeavor and unfortunately, Patrick can’t really live up to my expectations.

The book is divided into 11 chapters: The first two should give you an overview of what lies ahead of you and get you started with the development basics, like npm, JavaScript modules and browserify. The second chapter even starts describing two of Backbone.js’ most fundamental concepts, namely models and collections. In the following seven sections you build a simple movie database application and get to know views, routers, view templates and API techniques along the way. The book finishes off with two chapters on workflow automation sugar (Yeoman, Grunt, Bower) and an introduction to Thorax, a framework that sits on top of Backbone.js. The appendix explains how to install node and offers a short intro to underscore and jQuery.

The book has it’s own webpage (including the book’s project) and a github repository which seems to be incomplete at the time this review got published. I found some typos and minor technical mistakes that I submitted to O’Reilly—don’t worry, nothing dramatic. The project still suffers from some teething problems, though.

For me personally, the most interesting chapters are 7 and 8 called Synchronizing State and Basic API Concerns, respectively. Here you learn how to design a RESTful API for your web application which provided me some interesting insights.

The rest of the book rather consists of short comments that accompany the carelessly arranged code snippets. It seems like the author is trying to squeeze too many information and ideas into an insufficient number of pages. Thus, he is forced to skim rather important topics (e.g. MVVM, Grunt files) or leaves them out completely (e.g. testing, two-way data binding). The first chapter is the perfect example: It should be describing The Bigger Picture but really is a nightmare of a thematic overview. Patrick uses a lot of buzzwords that either are not explained thoroughly or are never used in the book again (e.g. Stitch, Express.js).

Also, you better have a good grasp of the peculiarities and pitfalls of the JavaScript language to follow along. The book is clearly aimed at proficient web developers, who know what objects, functions, modules, promises are all about, because the author sure does not explain those things. I consider myself a half-way decent front-end developer, but still the book did not really offer me a lot of value. It is more like a shallow tutorial, a concatenation of instructions and code lines (poorly indented, I might add), without going into detail or explaining any inner mechanics. Granted, it is quite hard to do all that in less than 200 pages, but maybe a tighter scope or an infographic every now and then would have done the trick.

Unfortunately, I can not recommend this book due to it’s shallow nature and too many loose ends—even for an introduction.