Top critical review
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Interesting But Muddled
on February 8, 2004
Overall, I was disappointed by this book. I develop business applications, and I was hoping this book would provide practical insights about such applications, more specifically in the database/web realm. While this book does contain some interesting pieces of information, it really is not of immense value to a developer such as myself. Here's why:
This book is a bit of a mishmash of different topics, but the vast majority of it (I'd say 75% or more) consists of ideas for object-relational mapping. Since most developers would use existing tools for object-relational mapping (in the Java realm, see Hibernate, JDO, etc.), I fail to see the real usefulness of this book for most developers building business (web) apps. Further, this kind of book encourages people who don't have the necessary expertise to try rolling their own OR mappers, which is simply not a good idea.
It's too bad, because the book starts off promisingly enough with 3 general approaches to business apps: Transaction Script: The procedural/transactional approach; Domain Model: The OO approach; and Table Module: The data-cetric approach. So far so good. Unfortunately the book then seems to steer off to the topic of "Fun With OR Mapping." It's not as sexy, but I think that's perhaps what the title of this book should have really been! The book then goes on to talk about different ways to architect Web applications, again mostly getting into how to develop framework code, which one largely would take for granted if one is deciding which framework to use rather than rolling one's own. Finally the book talks a bit about locking strategies (pessimistic, optimistic) and then presents a few generic items (e.g. the concept of a Money class or a Registry class).
Only a very small fraction of this book will be useful to a non-framework developer. Also, even though this book claims to be technology-agnostic, it seems rather firmly planted in the Java world. I'm not convinced an ASP/ADO.NET developer would find it particularly useful, for example. I think there is an important need to demonstrate how to put together solid business applications. I'd love to see a book of recipes that says "here's how to develop an ASP/ADO.NET app; here's how to develop using EJB; here's how to develop using Hibernate..." but without all the distracting details of how to implement the whole solution from scratch -- Basically I want a book that relies on the idea that frameworks are out there, but focuses the developer on how to choose a framework and how to take advantage of frameworks to produce solid, maintainable solutions.
Lastly, I would say Core J2EE Patterns from Sun Press is a more useful book for the Java/J2EE crowd, though it too suffers from framework-itis.