Oct 03, 2004

Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages...

A bit ago, I downloaded the first edition of Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages from Javalobby, but electronic books of this length are harder to manipulate than a book, and so I have recently purchased Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages, Volume 1: Core Technologies, Second edition, and over all, I find it a good book. Of course, it should be noted that servlets and web development are not new to me, and as such, I skimmed through large portions of the book.

One of the key things that I enjoyed in this book is the fact that it teaches architecture and design of servlets. Instead of being strictly a HOWTO book, which illustrates samples left and right of how to do something, this book discusses some design issues to consider. For example, they do a good job at comparing Servlets to JSP. In this discussion, he shows how to do some advanced things like why you may want to consider using the MVC Pattern and how this would work with minimal effort. The only part that was lacking, in my opinion, were UML diagrams to show the structure of the classes involved in the MVC.

As another example, they describe cookies at length, discussing some of the pitfalls and some of the advantages, and then compares them with Sessions, which he also provides the same indepth discussion of how to use them, and how to avoid common pitfalls. A similar discussion occurs in the JSP section where they describe the applets; while they make it perfectly clear that applets may not be the best way to go, they go straight in to discuss all the common problems associated with applets, and how to get around them or to work with them.

In addition to focusing on Servlets and JSP, the book also points out some insights into Java. Although a lot of its content I was already very familiar with, I think that it would be a good book for someone who is new to Java. As an example of this, there are chapters that are dedicated to JDBC, and although it does not go deep into the topic, it does provide some good insight to make your queries faster.

Furthermore, the book also provides a good introduction to HTTP, forms, and other web-related technologies.

My only complaint in the entire book its HTML and CSS. The tags are all in caps and the documents are not well formed, making the transition to XHTML more difficult, not to mention harder to read. Regarding CSS, there are a very few references to it, and there is no entry in the index regarding CSS (the acronym or the full content).

Do not get me wrong; I am not saying that it should have a lot of content on CSS, and in fact its omission shows that developers should not be designing the look and feel of a site exclusively. But even with this rational, it would have been a good addition to simple discuss why developers should bother using CSS. Specifically, by defining the right classes, the designer can easily augment a predefined page without asking for code changes by simply changing the CSS file.

Volume II is not yet available, however, I am looking forward to taking a look at it, as it does cover more advanced topics than this particular book, such as JSTL, Apache Struts, JSF, JAXB, advanced JDBC and more.

Another book that has been recently released is Effective Enterprise Java by Ted Neward. This book is in Scott Meyers' Effective Software Development Series. I have only flipped through it so far, but its content looks interesting.

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