First off, before even getting into the book, what is "CoffeeScript"? For a quick and dirty definition, I hit up Wikipedia:
A couple of other "support" features before diving into the book and CoffeeScript. The sample code used in the book can be found on the book's official page at Pragmatic along with links to the errata, the discussion forums and of course, how to buy the book in hardcopy, ebook, or both formats.
How to get CoffeeScript.
I chose to use Ubuntu for my "testing platform" but was running Ubuntu's last LTS version, which doesn't support installing CoffeeScript, even in an exceptionally painful manner. Therefore, I upgraded my Ubuntu box to 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot), opened the Ubuntu Software Center, and searched for CoffeeScript. It was discovered in no time and I installed it with no difficulty. Notice that this means I completely blew off the instructions for installing CoffeeScript as found in the first chapter, but since the book was published last August and the production version of 11.10 didn't become available until October, I figured, "what the heck". We'll see if my impatience will come back to bite me in the rear.
So now I have CoffeeScript. How am I going to use it? Oh, yeah. I have this book.
Anxious to "meet coffee", I opened a terminal window and just for giggles, typed "coffee -v" to see what version I had. So far, so good, I have version 1.1.1, the same version used in the book (the latest version as I write this blog post is 1.1.3).
There are all kinds of text editors you can use with CoffeeScript, but the author, apparently being a Mac guy, prefers textmate. Fine and dandy, but I use Ubuntu and prefer Vim. Apparently, there are textmate plugins for a wide variety of text editors including Emacs, gedit, jEdit, and of course, Vim. You can choose to go through the time and effort of adding the plug-in but you don't have to. As it says in the book, any text editor will do.
I do like that the book devoted itself to creating a single product (a simple game) throughout the chapters and allowed the reader to make and refine this game as a way to learn basic CoffeeScript, but in my opinion, the book is as frustrating as it is illuminating. If you're interested in learning CoffeeScript and you have at least a little programming experience, I won't say not to buy Pragmatic's CoffeeScript book, but I would recommend also spending a lot of time at coffeescript.org which, in and of itself, isn't a bad way to learn this language.