Hi there adamnichols45,
Personally speaking, and I don't mean to sound condescending, but start off with the smaller stuff:-
I have only tried a couple of things, but the basics seem to be here, and there are plenty of books available:-
This seems expensive, but you see where I'm going ;-p
As regards difficulty, this is something that's down to the individual, I can't answer for you. A lot of people that I know that do it say that it is as easy/straightforward to comprehend, but once again, the alkaline test wouldn't be the same from one to the next person, pardon the analogy but you see what I mean.
You've got me thinking about it now, I know that used in conjunction with div's and that you can call things statically from a database without having to refresh the page, so the benefits are good. Personally I like the ajax captcha & comments/blog style applications.
All the best with whatever you decide.