Building Java Enterprise Applications Vol. 1 Architecture, by Brett McLaughlin, (Paperback, 302 pages); ISBN 0-596-00123-1

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, send e-mail
Published by: O'Reilly & Associates, go to the web site
Source code: go to the site
Requires: Distributed computing environment
MSRP: US$39.95; Cdn$61.95

This is the first book of a 3-volume series on Java enterprise application development. It covers three aspects: (1) databases, (2) directory servers and JNDI, and (3) Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) including the message beans. The author uses a fictional company, Forethought Brokerage, to illustrate many aspects of the implementation. The author has structured the book as though the reader is a developer who has been given requirements for building an enterprise architecture. This volume primarily covers the data and business layers while volumes 2 and 3 are planned to cover more of the presentation layer.

Chapter 1 discusses the book plan and tools needed for enterprise development. Chapter 2 is a collection of blueprints for the new technological development for the fictitious company. Unlike other Java books, this one goes into details about the initial set of requirements, the concept of moving project targets and changing requirements and justifying the use of Java technology. It considers the overall requirements in depth, as well as the individual layers of design and implementation.

The whole book is very task-centered. Chapters 3 to 7 are about the data structure and design details, including RDBMS table structures, LDAP directory server, entity beans, session bean managers, JNDI naming and connection sharing. Chapter 8 is about details of implementing the business logic, including remote interfaces, user manager and stateful session beans. Chapter 9 is about messaging, the deployment of the codes and options. The last chapter gives a summary and some forward looking thoughts. Several appendices round up the book: SQL scripts, RDBMS databases, directory servers (iPlanet and OpenLDAP), application server setup (BEA WebLogic) and Java bean code listings.

This book is an excellent discussion of a realistic project within the context of requirements for a brokerage firm. Source codes can be downloaded (see below) to help understand the discussion. However, there are some places where more details will help. For example, the "object" names for directory server are mentioned in the text without actual codes. Although the downloaded source code will provide some hints, it is not reasonable to require readers to search and read source codes in separate files. The book should mention the location or absence of codes to illustrate the main points.

One interesting phenomenon about this book, similar to other technology books published recently by O'Reilly, is that it refers throughout to other books also published by O'Reilly. While this might be considered a friendly effort from the author to point out related resources, it imparts an impression that the author of the book is not neutral when he recommends a reference related to the topic being discussed. (Ed. Note: We agree with Songmuh, but it should also be noted that O'Reilly's list of tech books in print is so large that an O'Reilly author would be foolish not to use the list).

Despite some minor shortcomings, this book is an excellent companion for developers interested in building enterprise applications in Java. Before you dive into the coding, read this book to summarize and organize your overall design and implementation. It will be well worth your time. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the volumes in this series.

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