Friday, July 08, 2005

Review - JavaServer Faces in Action

JavaServer Faces in ActionJavaServer Faces in Action
by Kito Mann

3 out of 5 stars

JavaServer Faces (JSF) is one of the newest technologies in the Java toolbox and is designed to make developing web applications as easy in Java as it is in .Net. JSF is designed mainly to be used inside of an IDE by dropping JSF components onto a screen from a palette. This book is an introduction to JSF and although it is far from perfect, it is still a worthwhile read.

The book starts with an introduction to JSF with a good overview of the component technology and how it works as well as a brief discussion of some of the IDEs that support JSF. The next few chapters discuss the components in depth and the book bogs down. There is too much detail with very little in the way of code samples. To some extent this might make sense since the components are meant to be dropped from a palette, but at the same time it makes it very difficult to follow along without some understanding of how the components would be used in an application. Starting with chapter 8, the author tries to put it all together with a sample application. Unfortunately, it is presented as a development case study instead of a JSF case study. We get three chapters of screens with no code behind it that includes prototype versions and final versions. This seemed very unnecessary and helped to inflate the page count. It isn't until chapters 12 and 13 that we finally get to see some detail code but by then I had forgotten what the screens introduced four chapters earlier were supposed to be doing. The book ends with a chapter on Struts integration and a chapter on developing your own custom components.

There are bonus chapters available on the Manning web site, but since some of the bonus chapters are important to understanding the material in the book, unless you are reading the book while sitting at your computer, this isn't very helpful. The book would have been much better with some serious editing and rearranging of topics. The sample application should have been simplified and combined with the component reference material presented earlier. Code and screens should have been discussed together. The bonus chapters should have been incorporated into the printed version of the book.

I don’t want you to get the impression that this is a poorly written or useless book. In fact, there is a lot of good material here and after reading this book you will have a thorough understanding of JSF. The author gives very clear (if not concise) explanations but the book is too long and parts are difficult to wade through.

This earned 3 stars on Amazon. The book is published by Manning.

This review and all my other reviews can be seen on My Amazon Reviews page.

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