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WebLogic: The Definitive Guide Jon Mountjoy and Avinash Chugh
Published by O'Reilly Media
848 pages
£ 35.50
Published: 5th March 2004
reviewed by Mike Smith
   in the June 2004 issue (pdf), (html)

WebLogic is a very sophisticated J2EE platform. I'm not sure how it compares with the Open Source JBoss, but it has some advanced clustering, security and management features, and all the usual J2EE services. This book tries to cover it all, hence the 800 or so pages.

I don't think I'm giving away any secrets when I say that the UK Government's DotP (Delivering on the Promise) web services are based on WebLogic. (UKOnline, one example of these services, used to use Vignette, but not any more. You can tell when it's Vignette because of all of those commas in the URLs, btw.)

The UKUUG has different groups of members - SysAdmins, Developers, and I guess Architects. This book provides information for each of these groups. It does expect some prior understanding of application servers -- it is not a basic guide, and to some extent it leaves some information out and is therefore incomplete (and not ``Definitive''). For instance there are no detailed installation instructions -- only guidelines. I'll accept this, as the book will complement the WebLogic documentation, of course.

There are some code and XML fragments, and a few diagrams. However the vast majority of the book is presented as a title and a descriptive paragraph (or several paragraphs) about the subject matter at hand.

Although I tried, I just couldn't get into this book. I found it quite dry and boring. Possibly because it is heavy reading, but also because it covers the three target audiences outlined above. Therefore probably only a third of it is of direct interest to the reader. (For example there is a lot of J2EE jargon, and similarly J2EE concepts that a non- developer, like myself, doesn't want to know about!)

Even the potentially most exciting subjects (for an infrastructure person), such as setting up for clustering and load balancing, don't seem to be covered well. WebLogic really shines here because you can cluster EJBs across different servers and WebLogic keeps track of everything for you. There are considerations when you're using, say, Apache to load balance across multiple servers (there's a WebLogic plugin you use), so there are a lot of options and considerations to be covered here.

I can't therefore recommend this book to you. The fact that this review is relatively short demonstrates that I couldn't find the interesting and exciting bits anywhere; and that normal O'Reilly sparkle just isn't there.

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