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

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Flex3 in Action
Flex3 in Action
by Tariq Ahmed
Edition: Paperback
Price: £35.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Beginners Guide/Reference to Flex 3, 3 April 2009
This review is from: Flex3 in Action (Paperback)
The Flex 3 book is ok as a beginners guide, but I'd really have liked a more of an experts guide, instilling best practices. Rather than show users every way of doing things, concentrate on what you feel are the best ways of doing things and come up with a meaty example that illustrates how you would code a commercial app. That would be far more valuable to me as a reader and help busy people get up to speed fast.
Useful as a reference. Lots of code snippets. Copiously filed with lots of diagrams. Nicely laid out. Probably to be expected from authors versed in Adobe products. A few are a bit of strain on the eyes!
- Not very well proof read (particularly in earlier chapters), plus dead links in section 23.1.4
- Install guide wasn't very intuitive. See thread by JGF1 in Manning Forum "Eclipse: Which version of Flex Builder".
- Sequencing appeared a bit odd. Chapter 16 provides an OO primer, pretty good explanation for someone not from a OO background. But again this is beginners stuff. Odd to be 16 of 24 chapters into book and explaining this. Would think this would be chapter immediately after install! It's only at chapter 16 you learn how to create your own packages in Flex!

Seemed to have a few gaps in explanations:
- Converters (presentation to database)
- Some sort of FontMetrics example to facilitate pixel width calculation?
- i18n. Very biased to US market. Crazy date formatter! There is a post on i18n on forum that gives some i18n links from Tariq.
- Would have liked to have seen example of drill down from one chart to another. Eluded to capability but didn't provide example.
- accessibility to cookies etc. This could have been used as example to provide better i18n defaults. Out of the box Adobe is very pro US market with Flex defaults. Chapter 24 gives some pointers here but would need to look elsewhere for solution.
- SEO. I initially thought this was a weakness of Flex, but have since discovered the following book discusses it. AdvancED Flex Application Development: Building Rich Media X by FRIENDS OF ED, ISBN-10: 1590598962. So this would make a good chapter in Flex 4 book too.

Flex analogies to other technologies:
- akin to ASP.NET with thing like components, repeaters and data binding
wrapper XML in ArrayColletions and use it to do data binding and facilitate events to synchronise updates in data sources
- XPath style data binding options syntax @ symbol for XML atttibute access.

Flex strengths:
- CSS on steriods - colour gradients available in browser. Familiar if you've used GDI+ in .NET.
- Simpler Font embedding.
- Charting JFreechart/Googlecharts equivalent impressive array of options includes bubblecharts and HLOC

Flex weaknesses:
- Accessibility. Font appear to only facilitate pixels. No ems. (can't adjust text size from browser windows)
- Printing another achilles heel. Especially if you've used Crystal Reports. You construct compenents similar to Swing to print. I think Adobe could learn a thing or two from the Groovy folks with their DSL's/builders here.

- One final point. This book includes two free eBooks when you make the purchase. Flex 3 in Action, plus Flex 4 in Action when it comes out. I hope the Flex 4 book takes a more advanced stance. If they do this, I think it will make for a more compelling combination and make this book an essential purchase. We'll have to wait and see..

As I've read more about Flex a couple of things have become apparent. You can do printing. Check out either:
- Enterprise Development with Flex or
- ActionScript 3.0 Bible 0470525231 (The 2010 edition)
Also the emphasis I put on CSS on steriods. True the colour gradients are great, but it's style sheets, not cascading style sheets. The instruction set is really a subset of what CSS offers. Colin Mook's Essential ActionScript 3.0 covers the details. The CSS selector syntax is a reduced subset and the styles don't cascade, so fall backs aren't up for grabs. I still think the lack of accomodation of ems is the biggest single failing of Flex. Your forced to use pixels and points.

Programming Groovy: Dynamic Productivity for the Java Developer (Pragmatic Programmers)
Programming Groovy: Dynamic Productivity for the Java Developer (Pragmatic Programmers)
by Venkat Subramaniam
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive guide to meta-programming in Groovy., 28 Mar. 2009
It's unusual to find a technical author that possesses such clarity. A thoroughly engaging read that is easy to learn from. Devoid of fluff. Rich with crystal clear concise examples. Truely worthy of the "pragamatic" label. I particularly liked:
1) The coverage of MOP.
2) The testing chapter. The clearest distinction between mocks and stubs I've seen.
3) Venkat's analogy of XML to a human. :-) "Cute when small. Annoying when bigger!".
Clarity and wit. A great combination! Highly recommended.

Java Puzzlers: Traps, Pitfalls, and Corner Cases
Java Puzzlers: Traps, Pitfalls, and Corner Cases
by Joshua Bloch
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.60

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem from Joshua and Neal, 13 Mar. 2009
You can think of this book as the Java illusionists cookbook.
Full of examples designed to trip you up. Full of "Now you see it. Now you don't" effects. This analogy transcends from the examples to the images too. Optical overloading if you will! I really enjoy reading Joshua's books. He has a memorable style that conveys the nuances of the Java language in such a way as to be informative yet very entertaining at the same time. I thoroughly recommend this book.

Java Concurrency in Practice
Java Concurrency in Practice
by Brian Goetz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £31.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up to date blueprints for writing multi-threaded apps., 8 Mar. 2009
I would go so far as to say the authors have done a commendable job cracking a tough nut.

By reading the book you will be instilled with a set of blueprints that you can use to code multi-threaded apps and facilitate writing
threaded apps using the latest Java 5 and 6 classes.

Real life analogies were usually given to put problems into perspective at the outset of a new topic.

The book gave examples categorised into three groups. Good, bad and fragile stylised with a smiley, sad and indifferent faces.

For me seeing how not to code is equally valuable, lest you get caught with the same traps.

The book was broken down into four sections:
I Fundamentals
II Structuring Concurrent Applications
III Liveness, Perfomance & Testing
IV Advanced Topics

The book also has a good bibliography for further reading. I particularly found Hans Boehm's article excellent supplementary reading.

I particularly liked coverage of non-blocking synchronisation in chapter 15.

In contrast I found chapter 12 to be the most daunting to get to grips with (Testing Concurrent Apps). I found myself losing the thread in Listing 12-12! (Where a listing boils down to just a method! With undefined variable "barrier". barrier.await() is declared twice in succession! Huh? What's barrier?).
Thank heavens for section 12.4.2. / Findbugs.

jcip.net is the website where you can find the book source and errata.

J2EE¿ Connector Architecture and Enterprise Application Integration (Java (Addison-Wesley))
J2EE¿ Connector Architecture and Enterprise Application Integration (Java (Addison-Wesley))
by Rahul Sharma
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated and too high level to be of use, 2 Mar. 2009
I bought this because knowing about JCA is part of the architects exam.
The first 50 pages are particularly slow goiing installing the virtues of JCA, rather than getting down to some decent examples. Too much of a sales pitch. Things picked up a bit from here. But still not that impressive.
It's so out of date, I'd look for the PDFs on the Sun website.
To put things into context this was published in 2001 and things have moved on much since this time. J2EE 1.3 was considered to be the newest thing (ch15) JCA 2.0. EJB3 is out and this book is stuck back in the early EJB era.
I'd recommend looking at the Java EE 5 tutorial Chapter 35 instead.

Open-Source ESBs in Action
Open-Source ESBs in Action
by Tijs Rademakers
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable introduction to ESBs., 27 Feb. 2009
Helps to have Enterprise Integration Patterns book when reading.
Showcases ServiceMix 3.2.1/JBI and Mule. Touches on Spring Integration and JBPM/ODE.
Have be reading from source download as well as book to make most of things. Book in itself is not complete enough. I prefer to read book with complete examples contained within the pages, so you can comprehend from merely reading book itself.
Didn't solve anything meaty enough for me to give higher rating.
I found lack of detail explanation of Listing 4-15 the biggest failing of the book. I also hated the number of times I was told that I could test using the Swing test client. Why not put this in a readme of download?

The Definitive Guide to Grails, Second Edition (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
The Definitive Guide to Grails, Second Edition (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
by Graeme Rocher
Edition: Paperback
Price: £36.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for the aspiring Grails developer. A thorough grounding in Grails. Highly recommended., 21 Feb. 2009
The books builds a music store application - 'gTunes'.
It calls upon Amazon Web Services to download album art and Quicktime to playback music as streaming audio. Initially this is done natively with Groovy and later a technique is used to call upon Java's NIO methods to make process more efficient.

An email notification services is provided enabling users to be notified of new album releases by an artist by using ActiveMQ JMS.
The book also demostrates FCKEditor, a web enabled text editor akin to Word, conventionally used for blogging, but added to the pot to integrate web master style announcements.

Grails is build upon Spring and Hibernate 3. It simplifies the developers life though by abstracting away the need to deal directly with so much of the XML configuration. So in effect you don't have as many disparate artifacts making up the code. It does this by utilising closures one of tne key features of Groovy. I believe Grails draws some of its inspiration from Ruby on Rails and follows the mantra. Convention over Configuration. All this makes the developers life easier.

Other aspects where Grails shines are in the way that all the telemetry involved in handling pagination. This is automatically provided out of the box.

The book shows how to create wizard type functionality. Now this builds upon Spring Web Flow. Grails narrows the disparity between the traditional Spring programming models of 'Spring MVC' versus 'Spring Web Flow' in this process and makes use of things like conversational and flash scopes. Something Struts 2 or JBoss Seam developers will be familiar with.

GORM the Groovy object relational mapping technology is showcased in detail. It's a DSL founded upon Hibernate 3 that does away with the need for the Data Access Object design pattern. It automatically creates finder methods for your domain properties through the Groovy Meta Object Protocol (MOP).

With GORM you embelish Domain classes with constraints which are used for validation purposes. But you can also embelish conventional annotated JPA domain classes by providing an additional class with the naming convention of 'domain name' with Constraint' appended, so you can easily reutilise EJB3 code. Compare this to things like Commons Validator or early Spring Bean Validation Framework with all it's XML and you'll find this a boon. (Things have admittedly improved with annotated BVF, JSR303 and Hibernate Validator).

GSP is illustrated. It much like JSP, but by taking advantage of the operator overloading Groovy provides to enhance Java, it becomes much easier to write custom tags.

In the area of Security, JSecurity is utilised and permissions used to only allow songs deemed as purchased to be listened to.
The book also touches upon how to defend against SQL Injection/Denial of Service attacks and Cross Site scripting.

The book also showcases Gant. (The Groovy version of Ant. Enables you to do conditional/loop processing without need for Ant Contrib). The book uses Gant and integrates with Ivy for dependency management instead of Maven. It is an agile development environment and is pre-configured for use with Jetty, much like Matt Raible's AppFuse. It touches upon how to manage the deployment process as well as IDE's that support Groovy/Grails.

The various flavours of Ajax integration gets a brief mention.

Web service coverage predominantly revolves around REST. There is an intro to using SOAP with Grails, but the example didn't seem to gel with the text.

The Appendix contains an overview of Groovy.

There were a number of listings quoted in the text which are incorrect. I guess this comes from the re-editing process and a lack of final proof reading. This tended to confuse things at times, but for the most part I was able to resolve these to their proper value and fed this back to APress/Graeme.

Overall the book is not as clear as Beginning Groovy & Grails, in that it tends to veer off course from time to time and illustrate things that aren't building upon the core gTunes app. But all in all it provides a much finer level of granularity and clarifies how Grails integrates & sits upon Spring and Hibernate.

To the uninitiated, I'd recommend reading Groovy in Action, Beginning Groovy & Grails, then this book to get a good understanding of both Groovy & Grails.

Beginning Groovy and Grails: From Novice to Professional (Expert's Voice in Open Source)
Beginning Groovy and Grails: From Novice to Professional (Expert's Voice in Open Source)
by Christopher M. Judd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £33.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book covering a fantastic bunch of technologies., 25 Jan. 2009
It starts out covering Groovy.
* Basically Groovy gives Java a facelift, making for a more terse syntax and includes closures and meta programming capabilities to facilitiate "builders" which make doing component construct for things like Swing and XML document manipulation a snap.
* For a more in depth I'd recommend Dierk Koenig's Groovy in Action, but there is enough here to get you up and running.

Grails is a web framework that uses Spring & Hibernate under the covers. * It has it's own Object Relational Mapping technology known as GORM that is described quite well.
* I think Id have preferred if the book had taken a full on explanation rather than a small amount early on (Ch 4) then take a step back and elaborate on this (Ch6).
** The early chapters made me questioning how to model a Person domain object with two self reference for mother/father or currency exchange rates with double reference to a currency say.
** But it gets covered eventually in chapter 6.

The book uses a "to-do list" domain model.
* Three client are created: Web, Swing and command line and they interact with RESTful web services.
** Third party libraries used for Swing include SwingXBuilder, Glazed Lists and JGoodies. There are passing references to JideBuilder and SWTBuilder too.
*** I would have liked to have seen the JGoodies syntax elaborated on a bit here. But the external links were provided.
** JLine gets used for the command line interface.

* The web client is Ajaxified with Scriptaculous for showcasing 'edit in place' and 'auto complete' features.
* JasperReports are integrated into the solution and integrated with the Open Symphony Quartz scheduler to fire off "to-do" reports via email.
* Gant gets a brief mention in Chapter 12.
** Groovy version of Ant. You don't need Ant Contrib to do conditional/loop processing.
** This gets covered in more depth in Groovy in Action.
* Chapter 7 covers security.
** This chapter seems to deviate from the rest of the book. The topics covered don't seem to integrate as harmoniously as the other topics in the book.
** JSecurity, CAS and Acegi security get a brief mention.
** But there's not enough meat on the bone to sink your teeth into here. Acegi gets the lions share of coverage.
Overall though the book made for a thoroughyly engaging read and is one which I highly recommend.

I've recently tried to use some of the Grails code from this book and as the reader below indicated, it is rather buggy. The tests also seem fabricated. So, although the book gives you a fair overview, the precision in the details lets it down. Dave Kleins book is better for Grails as is the Jon Dickinson book. Consequently I've downgraded this review from 5 to 3 stars.

Pro Apache Log4j
Pro Apache Log4j
by Samudra Gupta
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £47.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Ordering of content could be slightly better., 19 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Pro Apache Log4j (Hardcover)
This book was written at the time 1.2.9 of Log4j came out. We are currently on version 1.2.15 at the time I'm writing this review.
(Book - second edition was written in 2005 and it mentions Java 1.2.x)
So it could do with an update to mention of SLF4J.

I believe Java's NIO classes that came out with Java 1.4.2 and SLF4J is the recommended approach these days which uses buffering instead for better performance.
If I had written this book, I'd have definately covered the Pattern Layout in Chapter one instead of 4. Hence the organisational reference in the title.
But the book does provide quite an extensive means of how to log applications using the likes of the Console, to File (JDBC, HTML & XML) and via JMS, Sockets SMTP and Telnet. There is good coverage of things like Mapped Diagnotsic Context to log multi-threaded apps.
I think Chapter 8 was the weakest in the book and seemed to concentrate soleley on Weblogic for logging J2EE apps. It should have covered a broader spectrum.
I'd recommend supplementing this book by reading the SLF4J website documentation too to get a more complete perspective.

Java/J2ee Job Interview Companion - 400+ Questions & Answers
Java/J2ee Job Interview Companion - 400+ Questions & Answers
by Arulkumaran Kumaraswamipillai
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good crib sheet to verify your breadth/depth of Java knowledge., 15 Jan. 2009
I had been following Steven Haines roadmap to becoming an Enterprise Software Developer over on InformIt. I think I've gone through 30 or so books in the past year following his advice and going on to specialise in Spring and RIA web/Ajax frameworks/toolkits. I can safely say you'd have to buy probably at least 15 individual books and supplement this with reading articles off the internet to get the equivalent diversity of coverage elsewhere. I used it to validate my acquired knowledge. It's a good mind jogger and identified a few gaps in my knowledge that I've expanded upon. I particularly liked the coverage of Design Patterns throughout the book, especially in the "How would you go about..." section.
It has a few pitfalls; in that there are countless of typos and grammatical errors.
My first impressions of this book were quite negative...
I spent my first day looking up and reading articles based on the links in the resources pages at the back of the book and was frustrated by the number of typos in the articles urls. Sometimes there wasn't even a URL just a title to track down with Google.
It also identified XDoclet as an emerging technology which I spotted when I opened book on first day and skimmed through it. It made me think. What have I purchased here!
These negative feelings were soon outweighed when I later realised how well it refreshed my memory on a vast array of topics. There are some great diagrams to pour over for a good architectural perspective on ways to develop systems.
It is showing signs of age. It's set around the time Java 5 had just come out and consequently there is not much in the way of generics in the code. It also focuses more on EJB2 than EJB3, but there is a smattering of this. Some of the articles it refers to on Hibernate are for the Hibernate 2 era too.
I've fired off all the errata to the author I found, so if LuLu prints a copy in future about 100 or so errors I spotted should hopefully be tidied up for you.
As the title for this review states. It makes a great crib sheet. It'll definately be a resource I'll refer to as a mind jogger when doing Java development and can envision it getting very dog eared over time.
It's pricey compared to other books, but you really do get good value for your money. It's more lightweight than 15 books to carry around with you too!

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