Excellent book; few typos.
Let me explain who I am so you know where I am coming from. I am a UNIX systems administrator/Perl programmer/web developer for an insurance company. I've had more than my fair share of shizophrenic managers and project managers that would qualify as ignoramuses only on their best days. I do not suffer fools gladly, as I just don't have time to hold their hands and tell them how wonderful they are.
For Managers and Project Managers:
If you are a manager or a project manager looking at web development, and you have a decent technological base, this is an excellent book. Not sure when you started feeling like you'd lost control of the technical people under you, or even if you were aware that you had. As far as I have seen, there are two shops -- technically savvy shops with no direction, and the Microsoft-loving shops with no clue and no direction. (IMO, MS products' sole benefit is to allow managers to delude themselves that that kid they hired out of a tech school for $10 an hour actually knows his --- from a hole in the ground. There are no substitutes for experience, no matter what Redmond says.)
Petersen has a very readable style -- pleasant and professional, without sounding preachy. This is important -- while I appreciate a good flame war as well as the next geek, sometimes software has to be evaluated in terms of its economic value. He also did not put me to sleep -- a rare quality in technical books.
Theo does a great job here. There are many books that will give you extremely detailed information on a single aspect of web programming. This book is more of an overview of how it should be done to get a great site that makes money and can be developed and supported on-time and on-budget.
Petersen's book covers useful technologies, gives you an idea how they are used, gives you examples of them in action, and then talks about tuning for performance. The security explanations are built in from the start, so you don't have worry about having to secure non-securable systems.
The technologies are explained well -- trust me on this. Don't feel ashamed if you skip the coding part and just read the bits around it. That's why you have technical people working for you. You just need to know what they are doing, and be able to give them direction that does not leave them wondering if you've truly lost it this time. Part of the great thing about this book is that it makes sense even if you do not understand perl.
This book will give you the ability to think about your web projects like an architect, not a bystander.
For the poor geeks who have to deal with Managers and Project Managers:
Great book. It belongs on your bookshelf; not just so you know what's in it, but also so you can pass it on when you need to get someone educated FAST.
I liked it because it gave me an idea of other ways of doing things -- why should I reinvent the wheel, when someone else has already came up with a solution?
Get it. Read it. Get a copy to your boss. It gives a good idea of what web technologies can do, and gives some solid examples. It explains these technologies in terms that any person in a technical field ought to be able to understand. This book will save you endless hours of discussing *how* things work, and may get you out of a number of pointless meetings where you wind up spending valuable time explaining basic concepts to people
and trying to stop them from picking impossible projects out of thin air.
With a copy of this on their desk, they will know what's possible, and have a better idea of the web development process. If you're lucky, they will read it, be able to ask intelligent questions and actually understand what you are doing and asking for. If they do not read it, you can still refer them to the appropriate sections of this book and escape out of the meeting.
(it's even of a decent enough size that you can still roll it up and smack them upside of the head if they are not reading it.)
I'd like to teach a web programming course someday, and if I do, I will base it mainly on this book. With it, you will be sure to have a class of developers who actually both have a clue as to what's going on, and can actually do what is needed. After the students have read this book, they can branch out to whatever specialty they need.