J2EE Applications and BEA WebLogic Server

Author: Michael Girdley, Rob Woollen, Sandra L. Emerson
List Price: $49.99
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ISBN: 0130911119
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR (03 August, 2001)
Edition: Paperback
Sales Rank: 14,794
Average Customer Rating: 3.03 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5
Watch out -- the examples don't work
This book has many errors. The typos are easy to tell, but many of the examples will not work without some tweeking. Unless you already know some basics of weblogic, and can figure things out yourself, you'll just sit there frustrated. I also found one example that seems plain wrong (formauth -- looks like you don't need login2.jsp at all), and it's very confusing.


Rating: 2 out of 5
Errors, no diagrams. Good parts, could have been better.
"J2EE Applications and BEA WebLogic Server" by Girdley, Woollen, and Emerson, is a book that I had been waiting for. "Professional J2EE Programming with BEA WebLogic Server" by Gomez and Zadrosky kept me hungry for the 'beef', and I knew that Woollen is one of the good answerers on the BEA newsgroups. It's a fat book of 15 chapters in over 600 pages plus CD, covering all the J2EE technologies. It begins with an overview of J2EE technologies, and then goes thru each of them: servlets, JSPs, JDBC, RMI, JNDI, JMS, EJB 2.0, JavaMail, and security, followed by two chapters on production deployment and capacity planning, and one outlining an example application, a web auction. Each of the J2EE technology chapters presents some small programs illustrating the technology, followed by some advice for design decisions. There are some WebLogic-specific topics like clustering, entity locking, and the WebLogic security service, but in the main the material is not specific to a J2EE product.

The strategy of using small disconnected "Hello World" programs to illustrate each of the technologies is good. Other books reject that strategy because such programs are not realistic. Those books are not readable selectively. In addition to the small examples, this book also has a larger, more realistic example. A separate chapter is devoted to it and it's on the CD.
Practical examples illustrate common tasks such as login verification. Throughout the book, the authors highlight tricks and unobvious traps.
I am happy to see the two chapters on deployment and about capacity planning. These are important topics that are frequently ignored or neglected. This information cannot be learnt from reading the J2EE specs and mustn't be left to guesswork.
The best area of the book are the chapters about EJBs. They explain the standard EJB behaviour, and the extra WebLogic functionalities like clustering and the use of WebLogic CMP. I appreciate practical advice that goes beyond what the spec says, for example how to write primary key classes, and how to use read-mostly entities.

Unfortunately, one wishes some content and its presentation were better. The presented technologies are not motivated enough. Before I read how to program a servlet, I want to know why I want to program a servlet.
The book does not compare and criticise the technologies enough. It should compare and criticise choices like basic athentication, form-based authentication, or certificate authentication for web access. It is not enough to say how to program them.
The book uses very few diagrams, and no UML at all! Concepts like the relations between the three or more interfaces and classes that make up an EJB can be presented so much clearer by just a few small pictures. It's obviously not a question of space: we see many superfluous pictures of DOS consoles executing deployment scripts.
The few diagrams in the book have several errors. For example in the deployment chapter, they contradict the text and therefore confuse. The diagram on page 568 gives "code" as the first stage in J2EE application development. Sigh.
The quality of the technical writing in this book is variable.
Don't read the JSP Chapter. If I didn't know how JSPs work already, I'm not sure I would have understood it from this chapter. There's grammar without definitions, like "import= " { package . class | package .* } , ... "". I could not guess what that is supposed to mean. The deployment descriptors are partly wrong. Class names are badly formatted. There are sentences like "out is a subclass of ..." --- it's not a subclass, it's an object of course. While it may seem fussy of me to criticise the wording at this level, this level is exactly where the reader spends unnecessary effort. An inexperienced reader may misunderstand the sentence completely. The chapter does not explain clearly what a JSP is and how it is executed. The chapter has become superfluous: Those readers who are able to understand it already know its contents.
There is a lot of badly formatted and incorrect code in this book. I won't go into details, except to mention the ridiculous pages 454/455 where we are surprised with:
abstract "C:\WINNT\Profiles\michaelg\javax\mail\Address.html" [] "C:\WINNT\Profiles\michaelg\javax\mail\Message.html" \l "getFrom()" () Returns the From Attribute.
It was supposed to be a repetition of the JavaDoc of javax.mail.Message, so it is superfluous anyway. In any programming book, the code has to be correct and it has to be beautiful, even more so than the narrative text.

Who should buy this book?

If this is your first book on J2EE, you'll be partly confused by it. As a beginner's intro to J2EE it is not detailed enough, and not pedagogical enough. If you read this after a J2EE tutorial and together with the specs and the WebLogic online doc, you'll gain quite a bit from it. If you're looking for critical assessment of J2EE helping you to decide on technical questions like which transaction isolation level to set, whether to use stateful session beans or HttpSession attributes, you'll find some help in this book. Maybe not as much as I had hoped for. If you want specific hints and tricks about using WebLogic: the book has little more than BEA's generally good online documentation.

Verdict

Many weaknesses can easily be fixed in a corrected edition. The next edition must eliminate the typos and add diagrams. The book has good parts, but it could have been a lot better. Of course many WebLogic developers will buy it regardless!


Rating: 2 out of 5
Disappointing
The title of the book immediately attracted me to it. However after reading through it over a week-end, it seems to me that none of the topics are covered in any real depth. The documentation on BEA's web-site is probably far better than this book! However this book might be good for someone new to J2EE and/or WebLogic. Overall this book is disappointing!

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