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JBoss: A Developer's Notebook

Norman Richards and Sam Griffith
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
172 pages
£ 20.95
Published: 1st July 2005
reviewed by Mark Jones
   in the March 2006 issue (pdf), (html)

The first thing that struck me about this O'Reilly book was the ``non-standard'' cover art. Instead of the usual animal adorning the front page, the cover is somewhat plain with a couple of coffee stains being the sole decoration. There is a reason behind this, namely that ``JBoss A Developer's Notebook'' is not a theoretical book full of abstract diagrams and design patterns. Nor is it a book about programming full of Java-application code. What it presents is a very concise, example-driven guide to JBoss, one of the leading open-source J2EE application servers.

I can't emphasise how concise this book is. At just over 140 pages, it runs through downloading and installing JBoss, deploying simple and more complex applications, database connectivity and data persistence, security, logging, monitoring, and production roll out. All major aspects of JBoss are covered in a short, snappy manner with plenty of example configuration and screenshots.

The book is also very easy and quick to read, helped by a risky but effective format which uses a ``grid lined'' page background complete with coffee and water stains. Scribbled notes are occasionally placed in the margins to add to the ``laboratory'' and ``hands-on'' feel of a notebook. The book contains a lot of ``In this chapter ..'', ``What Just happened?'' and ``How Do I Do That?'' summaries, which are useful and effective.

You'll get the most out of this book by working through the various labs and examples whilst sat in front of a computer running JBoss. However, skim-reading the book whilst not in class or getting your hands dirty also gives a good, high-level overview of the capabilities of JBoss and is thus suitable for designers and architects as well as programmers.

Some people may find this book too short. If you're looking for a detailed discussion of a particular area of JBoss or want examples of Java applications, then I would advise you look elsewhere. However, if you want a light-hearted, example-driven tour of the main features of JBoss whilst sat in front a PC or server, then I can most definitely recommend this book. Designers and architects looking for a quick overview of the capabilities of JBoss should also take a look.

So how to summarise? A daring format which works well, a style that lends to quick reading and progress, and an all-round enjoyable read. I look forward to other O'Reilly books in this series.

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