This book is not only good conceptually and instructionally, but it's also a great reference text. Aside from reading very well, the content presentation is straightforward and concise. Using this book the reader can quickly throw together everything needed for development of this nature. The book is worth it for the chapter on developer tools (chapter 4) alone. After sitting down and going through it once, I was finally able to get a complete development environment up and running under Linux. I had made a few attempts before but couldn't set up the environment correctly nor had any good choice for an IDE. Under Linux (my preferred development platform) I had always just used the command line compilation tools and text editors (like vi). Now the IDE is set up and I can test, debug, write, and deploy code easily and I'm considerably more productive. The book is incredibly useful for experienced programmers and indispensable for anyone trying out Java and J2EE (particularly if you don't have access commercial development environment or testing platform... as a grad student I rely heavily on open source for development in all languages). It also explains how open source solutions can enhance production environments as well. And I've not found another reference that had everything I needed all in one place. This text is thoroughly recommended to anyone with an interest in J2EE or Open Source.
I would definitely recommend this book to developers or enterprises that need to build applications with limited resources. Having been the commercial app server developer for years (using Weblogic, JRun and Websphere), I was unaware of the capabilities of todays opensource app server. The capabilites and performance of opensource app servers like JBoss are well illusted in this book. This book also introduces the reader to a variety of opensource API's. Most of these API's are supported by Jakarta or Sourceforge projects. As it's name suggests, if you need opensource knowledge, start with this toolkit.
This book is perfect for anyone wanting an introduction to the capabilities of Open Source software. It is EVEN BETTER to help convince management on using Open Source. It clearly shows how to quickly setup a free, fast and reliable enterprise platform for your development team without spending thousands of dollars! If you want to have a professional level enterprise platform for you or your development team this book is for you! Using the book and the Companion website you can use all of the most popular open-source tools to build a single, integrated platform.
I tried to make myself read this book, but it didn't say much. Mainly a list of open source projects for a given topic. For example, templating engines, then proceeds to explain each one. This goes on for the entire book. Most of this information is available on the web for free. I wouldn't recommend this book.