Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Review - Pro Jakarta Velocity

 Pro Jakarta VelocityPro Jakarta Velocity
by Rob Harrop

5 out of 5 stars

I have always been a strong supporter of Velocity. I even wrote an article for JavaRanch about Velocity back in March. Velocity is an open source template framework designed to simplify the task of generating content such as web pages, email, or any other text-based output. The Velocity documentation available from Apache is short, low on examples, and leaves holes (even if it is fairly good compared to some other open source projects). This book fills in the gaps and gives excellent coverage of the many features that are available with Velocity.

The book starts with an introduction to Velocity and then explains how to install and configure it. The author then discusses the Velocity Template Language, examines its shortcomings, and demonstrates how to get around them. Best practices are covered early in the book. Although Velocity is normally thought of as a web-based framework, the author doesn't let us forget that it can be used for both stand-alone and web applications and gives us detailed chapters on both. Velocity tools are well covered including Anakia, which can be used to transform XML. The Velocity architecture is explained as well as ways to extend that architecture.

The examples are well thought out and give good coverage of the features of Velocity. The most interesting part of the examples is how little work it is to integrate Velocity into a well-designed framework. The author shows how Velocity fits into both Struts and Spring, demonstrating that Velocity is not meant to replace these frameworks but rather to simplify content generation in any framework. I can strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in Velocity. For anyone not interested in Velocity, the question is, why not?

This earned 5 stars on Amazon. The book is published by Apress.

The review can be seen on Amazon on My Amazon Reviews page.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Review - Effective Enterprise Java

Effective Enterprise JavaEffective Enterprise Java
by Ted Neward

5 out of 5 stars

As anyone who has programmed using Servlets, JSPs, and EJBs knows, the complexities of integrating multiple layers of code can drive you to distraction. If you aren't careful, you can create an application that performs poorly under load, is difficult to maintain, and is impossible to port from one platform to another. The tricks that a programmer needs to avoid these problems often come painfully with experience. The author has taken his experience and given us a book that is well-written, easy to understand, and provides plenty of excellent advice that will help you produce superior applications. The best part is that the advice you get is practical advice from someone who has actually experienced the pain and suffering of J2EE development. This book deals in the reality of development and not pie-in-the-sky theory.

The book contains seventy-five items of discussion broken up into seven main areas. The items cover a wide range of topics from the broad, "Keep it simple" to the specific, "Never cede control outside your component while holding locks." The items cover everything from architecture, "Define your performance and scalability goals," to coding, "Use HttpSession sparingly." Even if a particular item is not of interest to you, there will be plenty of other items that will be of interest.

This book is not a tutorial or beginner's book. It is expected that the reader already has some experience with Enterprise Java. If that describes you, make sure you get this book to avoid more pain and suffering. You will end up a better J2EE developer and your applications will be cleaner and easier to maintain.

This earned 5 stars on Amazon. The book is published by Addison-Wesley.

The review can be seen on Amazon on My Amazon Reviews page.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Review - Java Garage

Java GarageJava Garage
by Eben Hewitt

2 out of 5 stars

Headache. That is what I got every time I picked up this book. Too cute. Too many short sentences. Sentence fragments. Headache. Recipes. Like reading my 12-year-old daughter's instant messages.

First thing to note is that this is a beginner's book. You won't find that anywhere in the description unfortunately. Second thing to note is that I blame this on "Head First Java". You know how when a successful TV show comes out and all the other networks try to copy it? You know how they never do it right because they always miss the point? It's as if someone saw "Survivor" and decided it was a success because people ate bugs so they made a show where people had to eat bugs to win. "Head First Java" uses humor to help focus the mind on difficult concepts. It makes use of educational techniques that have been studied by scientists. This book uses humor to be cool(?), funny(?) but most of the time the book is just annoying, which is a real shame because there is some good information here and some of it is very well presented. Other times I was left wondering why he stopped and didn't finish explaining a concept. Then there are these stream of consciousness blurbs that seem to just come out of nowhere and go on about anything except the topic at hand. I assume the author is trying to be amusing and be less like a traditional technical book but he fails at the former and overachieves at the latter.

At one point in the book the author suggests that if you still have questions that you should get some Zoloft and take up a hobby like gardening. I think it's a little odd for an author to suggest that his curious readers are in need of anti-depressants but if forced to read this book, it may not be a bad idea. cya.

This earned 2 stars on Amazon. The book is published by Prentice Hall.

The review can be seen on Amazon on My Amazon Reviews page.