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Mr. Jeremy Flowers "Working on Grails portal" (Milton Keynes, UK)

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Practical RDF
Practical RDF
by Shelley Powers
Edition: Paperback
Price: 25.12

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not a book for beginner to RDF/Dull and dated., 24 Oct 2008
This review is from: Practical RDF (Paperback)
When I read page x of the preface, where the author describes herself as a "practical" person. This was possibly the only place in this book where I felt a connection with author. My expectations from reading this however were soon dashed... Have you ever finished reading a page from a book and then ponder to yourself. "Huh? What did I just read?" (Particular pain points that stand out for me were: P28 last paragraph. P47 on rdf:type Property).

90% of this book was like this for me. I just didn't connect with the author. The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" springs to mind. I found the material to be poorly organised, full of bad sentence construction: e.g. "The type element has a range that determines the type of values associated with it". This was some of the author's finer work! What about this? : "To this point, we've looked at recording only individual properties, but RDF needs to record multiply occurring properties." I read this a couple of times then spotted the typo. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
The author flits from topic to topic leaving you feeling like your suffering from information overload and nothing seems to register in a cohesive fashion. What do you think of this for mixed signals?: P77 Note says Working Group removed bagID. Then just below author goes on to describe obsolete method as best way of doing things! How about just sticking to the most current spec at time of writing. No need for excess baggage it muddies the waters.

I think the author really knows her stuff but didn't do a good job of storyboarding the book to make sure the newcomer could get to grips with the subject. The editors at O'Reilley need shooting. With the right pairing of editors, there is the potential for a fantastic book.

I've yet to be blown away by an O'Reilly book. They really could do with following Manning's lead of providing a forum to interact with author and breaking examples down by numbered bullet points helps. P104-105 is a prime candidate for this topic. At tail end of P105, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be looking at the Element column or the Property column for "Content" element. "Resource Bio" doesn't jive with either!

The text is plastered with errors and outdated links. If you look at the confirmed/unconfirmed O'Reilly errata pages, you'll see what I mean... I reported a load more issues that aren't in the unconfirmed draft even as we speak. So who knows what the complete picture is! I'm extremely disappointed these have not been fed back in to a reprint. Five years have gone by since book was first published. Come on guys, you are not going to impress your customers with this kind of sloppiness. (I have since heard back from O'Reilly and it appears there was a reprint in Nov 07. I have that version and unfortunately loads of errors do still exist!)

I think my biggest gripe stems from the choreography of material covered. Its all 'back to front' and just floors the beginner. My gripe about P28 and all its techno babble glory is a prime example of this "node-edge-node pattern". Finally author gets around to discussing this on page 35 when she discusses Striped Syntax! The problems stem from the fact the author does everything in a 'top down' fashion. When you're building a semantic vocabulary, it helps to give a high level 'top down' overview, but when you get to the nitty-gritty details, describe the foundations first and build upon them in a 'bottom up' fashion.

This book would get zero stars if I could award it that. It gets its one star for harvesting the links which may help me further unravel RDF. At the same time I may get a more up to date perspective on obsolete references like P122: ublin Core dcmes-xml! P149: Jena 1.6.1 (2.5.6 as of now). P151: DAML+OIL. Replaced by OWL (Do a Wiki search). P157: rdfcontent url leads to project with nothing to download. Groovy!
P312-314: Also whole section in Ch15 on Tucana Knowledge Store. From what I can tell this got bought up by Northrup Grumman. Can't find it anywhere. Maybe it got renamed.

On a final note, I found the author to be most unhelpful when I did ask for an example to break down what author described on P28. I got a sense of, "Thanks for your patronage and buying my book. Now get lost"!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 25, 2013 11:01 AM BST

Ajax in Action
Ajax in Action
by Dave Crane
Edition: Paperback
Price: 31.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much waffle., 22 Oct 2008
This review is from: Ajax in Action (Paperback)
I wouldn't recommend this book unless your an absolute newcomer.
The best thing to do is run the screencast and don't buy the book!
On the plus side it gives examples using Prototype, Scriptaculuous, X and Rico. So you'll get an appreciation of these frameworks. It does go into some detail about design patterns. Chapter 8 on performance was the best chapter in book.
On the down side:
* Chapters 1-8: Are rather labored and elementary. There's a lot of superflous stuff. jQuery in Action by contrast is snappy & to the point.
* Chapter 9-13. Examples are given. The problem is this book tries to be all things to all developers and consequently delivers a watered down result. (Some VB.NET/ASP.NET/C#/PHP/Java. Wouldn't be so bad if versions of each server-side code were in Ch9-13 with deployment instructions).
=> I've just finished reading chapter 9 and found the author of that particular chapter both facetious and egotisical.
=> The last 5 chapters are presented in a fashion where code is created then refactored. Why not cut to the chase. Just show the refactored stuff. I found this most arduous in chapter 9 and feel enough is enough. Next book...
Other major disappointments:
* A couple of the more meaty examples appear to be missing (Battleships from ch7 and ObjectViewer ch4-6. You were supposed to be able to edit data on Planets. Couldn't see it in download).
* The code that is there is buggy doesn't work in IE7. I see a lot of posts along same line with IE6 on Manning forum.
* A lot of the external links are broken in chapter summaries.
* And finally unlike other Manning authors, the forum doesn't get regularly reviewed by it's authors.
* My advice. Steer clear and look at something like jQuery In Action.
The code for that book is spot on and the authors style of writing is much crisper.

The Definitive Guide to Spring Web Flow (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
The Definitive Guide to Spring Web Flow (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
by Erwin Vervaet
Edition: Paperback
Price: 28.44

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't cover Spring Web Flow 2... Drat!, 18 Oct 2008
If you were expecting coverage of Sping Web Flow Version ****2****, you'll be sorely disappointed. This is a slightly modified version of Working with Spring Web Flow that was updated to include coverage of integration with JSF.
I was personally mis-informed by Steve Anglin of APress to this effect. Can't say I've read this book again, because it looks too much like a carbon copy of the other - which was very good. Hence the rating. Grrr. If you have the other book. It'll be worth waiting for the version of Spring Web Flow 2.

jQuery in Action
jQuery in Action
by Bear Bibeault
Edition: Paperback

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars jQuery is the cats pjyamas for Javascript DOM manipulation., 18 Oct 2008
This review is from: jQuery in Action (Paperback)
This part of the review relates to the second edition of the book:
This time round the authors go into more detail of how you can use jQuery in conjunction with other JavaScript libraries and how to write jQuery plug-ins to extend jQuery and not step on the toes of say some Prototype code. More emphasis is now given over to the UI in the latter half of the book where themes, mouse interactions and widgets get a mention. The widgets covered include buttons/buttonsets, sliders, datepickers,progressbars,autocompleion,tabs, accordions and dialog boxes.
The book shines again with an impressive array of labs, and Bear hosts the code as well, so you can run the Ajax examples (which have both PHP & Java versions server-side) without the need to setup/deploy code.
My only disappointment was the fact that it would have be nice to see some more advanced controls like datagrids/treeviews documented, of the kind you find in Dojo.
The book still gets five stars, because of the clarity of writing and labs.

This part of the review relates to the first edition of the book:
If you've ever tried to do DOM manipulation of a web page and had to deal with browser quirks you'll find jQuery and this book will make you want to look at web development again with a reinvigorated spirit. jQuery does a brilliant job of levelling the playing field giving you a JavaScript library that abstracts away the complexites behind a common API. It's extensible too via plug-ins, so the scope for enhancement is there.
The authors have a wry sense of humour that is refreshing and informative. Maybe this books adage should be.. "The labs are worth a thousand words". Whenever things get a bit heavy going, you can run the lab examples and get your heads around things. It's a great way to hone your jQuery skills.
Chapter 8 contains some of the most interesting stuff for me. It covers using jQuery with Ajax. For this you'll need to host the apps in Tomcat. A familiarity with Java helps a bit here, so you'll understand the conversations revolving around servlets. (Though I think PHP will do too).
If you've used SAX, JDOM or similar parser technologies on the Java server-side, you'll appreciate how succint and cool this technology is. You can achieve big things with minimal effort. As well as being able to do XPath type node selection, you can do CSS style selector syntax matching. (Try Googling on selectors and look at the pattern table in the W3C docs).
If your a novice or a rusty JavaScript developer, the Appendices give a good refresher on the likes of closures. All in all this is a good book with excellent examples which I thoroughly recommend.

Beginning Google Web Toolkit: From Novice to Professional (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
Beginning Google Web Toolkit: From Novice to Professional (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
by Bram Smeets
Edition: Paperback
Price: 31.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Intro to GWT., 16 Oct 2008
Chapter 1 : Sets the scene and gives a good overview of AJAX, how it was originally defined, and how it has evolved, so it's know know as Ajax, because it uses technologies like JSON over XML to send data over the wire. It also goes a good job of surveying the competition and describes the relative strengths and pitfalls of each technology.
Chapter 2: Conveys sets the stage for using GWT. It starts out a bit tedious, but gets better as the chapter progresses and ends up discussing some useful Firefox plugins to help with when developing Web Apps with Ajax.
Chapters 3-6 Then proceed to develop a task recording system. The example is gradually refined and is where you get the most value from the book.
Chapter 7: Is on testing. I think this is where the book lost a star for me. I found it particularly dull and boring. The examples were contrived. Why the book didn't create tests correlating to the domain example, I don't quite understand. The Selenium stuff would better be handled by pointing to a webcast. The benchmarking stuff was too basic to render it pointless it wasn't worth wasting the paper and readers time.
Chapter 8: This is a mixed bag. There is some good stuff here. For me it's not so much the failing on the part of the authors, it's the technology itself. Maybe there are better ways of handling i18n.. But if you've worked with Struts 2, you'll think defining a constants class to load up resource bundles is a bad smell. On the flip side of this, the discussion of the progress of file uploads with asynchronous callbacks was quite interesting.

GWT as a technology is interesting. It has it's good points, but also it's pitfalls (mainly i18n). I see similarites to Wicket or Tapestry in here. It will be familiar ground to folks who have worked with Swing and layout presentation managers, event handlers and the like. It has similarities to the way IIS in the .NET arena abstracts away the browser ideosyncracies/quirks. GWT does this by converting Java code to Javascript to do DOM manipulation or handle Ajax. It generates different Javascript code from one Java source, to cater for browser vendor and versioning variances. Then it adds i18n to that pot to multiply the variations by yet another dimension.
For me Struts 2 with it's Ajax theme is still the best web framework though.

A final footnote: This book covers GWT 1.5, so it's able to handle Java 5 stuff like generics.
BTW: I recently found out GWT does handle i18. It's just this book doesn't give it good coverage!

Pro Java EE Spring Patterns: Best Practives and Design Strategies Implementing Java EE with the Spring Framework
Pro Java EE Spring Patterns: Best Practives and Design Strategies Implementing Java EE with the Spring Framework
by Dhrubojyoti Kayal
Edition: Paperback
Price: 32.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book explaining Java EE Design Patterns in the context of Spring., 14 Oct 2008
This book does what it says on the cover. It does this by explaining a lot of the Core JEE Design Patterns made popular by Deepak Alur et all within the context of the Spring Framework. It's a good book, that I would recommmend to architects and developers interested in Spring.
With the exception of the section on Web Service Broker, it is very clear and concise.
It doesn't get five stars because it has the usual slew of obvious APress typos and erroneous diagrams that could have been tidied up by a more thorough proof-reader. As usual APress choose to leave out import statements to save on space and leave user to the source download to work things out. It's a bug bear of mine...
Additionally it's not as up to date as Spring Recipes which covers Spring annotations. This is ironic, since Spring Recipes came out a couple of months before. I particularly noticed this with respect to ThrowawayControllerHandlerAdapter and Transactions.
I've fed my findings back to Apress and the author, so hopefully any reprints can improve on this.

Web Content Mining with Java: Techniques for Exploiting the World Wide Web (Computer Science)
Web Content Mining with Java: Techniques for Exploiting the World Wide Web (Computer Science)
by Tony Loton
Edition: Paperback
Price: 32.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting material on how to extract data from the Web., 14 Oct 2008
Tony came up with an ingenious way to parse HTML and convert the DOM model of an HTML page into a string which can then be then be queried.
He provides a tool to view the strings which can then be selected and use wildcards to bring back similar sets of data. You end up being able to create a SQL like syntax to pull out the data. Cool stuff.
The portal stuff looked a bit dated, but the book had a few of extra bits that I wish more authors would follow suite and do:
1) Include imports statements. Which is a particular bug bear I have with so many APress books.
2) Provide a summary at the end of the chapters briefly describing the API's
3) Include comments at the top of the source code to indicate the name of the artifact and where it is in the source directory. I'd always thought I do this if ever I get around to writing a book myself. It's the first book I've read that does it. A man after my own heart. :)

Lucene In Action
Lucene In Action
by Erik Hatcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: 24.32

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is this a book on Lucene or JUnit?, 11 Oct 2008
This review is from: Lucene In Action (Paperback)
Note this review was for the first edition... Amazon's deceptive this way.
The bulk of this book (Part 1:Chapters 1-6) is made up of JUnit tests to illustrate the ideosyncracies of the Lucene framework. Hence my review title! I suppose it's an interesting way to learn a framework, but it wasn't the book I was expecting.
I think this was really exacerbated by all the references back and forth. The first couple of paragraphs on P178 made my head hurt. I like to read a book linearly. You've got what I call a "chicken or egg" thing going on here. The material is so intertwined that early chapters are referencing things later in the book. There is a second edition in the pipeline (Due for May 2009 according to Manning website). I hope they improve on this in the next edition.

There was also chapter 9 on the ports which I found to be of no interest... The best chapter was chapter 7, then chapter 8. Chapter 10 on the case studies was a bit hit and miss for me. I found the jGuru and Nutch discussions more stimulating.
I would really have liked to seen more emphasis on accessing web pages rather than documents on your hard drive along with a much more detailed discussion on Nutch. The Lucene based search engine. Until new edition comes out, I guess I'll wait for Manning's Collective Intelligence to arrive. I think it'll be more my cup of tea. It's supposed to cover Nutch..

HTTP Programming Recipes for Java Bots
HTTP Programming Recipes for Java Bots
by Jeff Heaton
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book. Really meaty project gets created. Provides lot's of food for thought., 11 Oct 2008
This is a brilliant book.

The book has a few niggles in that I spotted some flaws in the code. The book and code download could do with some JUnit tests!

But I guess the author can be forgiven for this, because of the usefulness, clarity, commenting and detailed coverage of the code that he develops.

When all is said and done this is a recipe book of examples.

There is a complete implementation of an HTML parser. I was a bit surprised to see book wasn't using JTidy or NekoHTML here...

By the time you're done you'll have a great appreciation of HTTP and tools like WebShark to help for create a "bot" [ie bespoke screen scrapers designed to extract data from specific sites], as well as the more generic "spider".

You'll find this book a great resource for learning about concurrent programming in Java as you work through the code that makes up the highly configurable Heaton Research Spider. There are various implementations here. An in memory version for a single host site, and a couple of SQL based ones for MYSQL/Oracle..

The book also shows how to call into the Google search API's to create what it calls a "hybrid bot". You could then use this to setup the seed data for your spider. (Setting up this seed data is where you are left to your own devices and perhaps where book could have been expanded on slightly).

You'll also get a bit of exposure to AXIS web services and RSS feeds along the way too.

I'd thoroughly recommend this to anyone wanting to learn more about harvesting information from the web and expand their knowledge of Java, HTTP, and Multi-Threading/Concurrency.

Struts 2 in Action
Struts 2 in Action
by Don Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: 28.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag. Webwork in Action is much better.., 3 Oct 2008
This review is from: Struts 2 in Action (Paperback)
In a few places this book shines. I think this is reflected by the fact that different authors wrote different chapters.
1 : Good
2-7 : Nauseating. They get the point across. But you're left having to sift out the junk. Not good for busy IT person wanting to get to grips fast.
8 : Excellent
9 : Good. Integration with Spring and Hibernate JPA
10 : OK
11 : Bad.. If I find another book explaining the abbreviation I18N. Then to add insult to injury do it more than once...
12 : Poor 12.3 in particular.. Huh?
13 : OK
14 : Good. Migrating Struts 1 -> Struts 2
15 : Excellent. Best practices.

The bulk of the book has way too much fluff and preamble. of the style.. "We're going to take you on a journey... Are you ready... Let's go".
Also there was too much time is spent regurgitating the same stuff. The editors at Manning did a lousy job here. If I'd have reviewed this text, I swear I'd have put a red line through a third of text. Chapters 2-7 in particular.
I read this book hot on the tail of WebWork in Action. The style of both those authors was so much easier to comprehend. Maybe it's something Manning could put through a readability analyzer. The best way I could describe it was the tempo seemed off. Stick to Webwork in Action. It's more concise and to the point. Then flick through this for the chapters I've highlighted. The fact the waffle was getting my hackles raised most of the time didn't help here. Kept thinking 'Get to the point'.

Could have placed more emphasis on annotations. This way buying both WebWork In Action and this book together would have been more worthwhile.

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