Almost every web developer uses PHP and MySQL these days. Because it is such a popular combination, most web users think that all dynamic sites utilize both. Since it is not the only choice, I picked up this book as a reference for integrating PHP and MySQL code with JSP pages (SAP connector) for a client. Since this book follows the popular step-by-step scheme, we’ll start from the beginning.
The author of the book, James Turner, begins with the fundamentals of Java Server Pages (JSP). He goes into detail on JDBC, Tomcat and basic database interaction. Later he explains JavaBeans and discusses Servlets and the features and functionality they can add to JSP.
The next two parts focus on a sample application. The reader is walked through the entire process of creating an online store with category and product administration, shopping carts, checkout, order steps. It is like, “Build your own Amazon in 30 days!,” step by step. What I really liked about the sample application is that Turner did not just focus on the technical parts, he also goes into detail on functional specs and takes us with him on the long journey of software development up through the final stages of implementation.
Part IV, labeled “Advanced JSP Topics” brings us up-to-date on XML, LDAP, the Struts Application Framework, Enterprise JavaBeans and finally, Security, Load Balancing, Failover and more. The latter is pretty interesting because the author explains topics such as SSL implementation and integrating Tomcat with the Apache webserver.
Now what did I expect from the book? Overall, I am semi-pleased with the coverage. I expected at least a chapter or two on integrating JSPs with other technologies (“Hello, PHP calling!”). The author also failed to discuss alternatives on this sector. Apache’s Jakarta Turbine classes are not the only choice for developers. The Java-world offers countless ways (Slightly exaggerated!) to go into JSP and MySQL development. There are alternatives, such as the MySQL Connector/J or Resin JDBC engine. Having said that, the book is a bit shortsighted since it fails to at least mention all the tools that are made available to Java and JSP developers.
Definitively one the books fortes is the very comprehensive appendix and its walkthroughs on installing JDK, Ant, Tomcat and MySQL. Everything you need to get a fully functional testbed up and running on your computer at home or on a server anywhere else – on Windows or Linux/Unix. Every newbie will like this part! I also liked the discussions on LDAP and XML, although I feel that the reader is better off with an additional book on either topic. Certainly a nice addition to the book though.
If you peruse the last few chapters of the book, is “just” a step by step tutorial to building a program according to Mr. Turner’s scheme. Rather than a comprehensive overview of all available options that a developer might want to read about when spending US$40 on this book. Browsing some newsgroups I also found people who told me about errors in the sample source code provided.
Overall, not a very good impression. I am a beginner and I therefore can not recommend this book to other beginners. Experienced JSP coders will find it a tad boring since all the coding is rather simple and intermediate. Your money would be better spent elsewhere.
Comprehensive appendix, easy step by step tutorial. Interesting chapters on LDAP and XML.
Flawed code samples? Shortsighted especially on providing an overview on available technologies (aside from Jakarta).
Look elsewhere. If you can get it used, you may give it a shot.