on March 3, 2003
Writing a certification guide poses some serious challenges to the author. Having co-authored a guide my self, I understand how tricky it is to decide how much to cover. It is not unusual to attract criticism from both sides of the aisle - too much detail or too little detail. A test like SCEA that covers such a broad ground makes the job even tougher.
The first ever SCEA guide met most of my expectations. It is concise, covers most of the exam objectives and most importantly, maintains the focus on the test without digressing over to J2EE trivia. Every chapter attempts to cover a set of objectives, and has a review section followed by some sample test questions. The accompanying answers not only explain why an answer is the correct answer, but goes a step further to elaborate why other answers are not correct, or not-so correct. The book also introduces a case study that introduces the reader to skills essential for solving the part II assignment.
I said the book covers "most" of the objectives. That's where it falls short of expectations. Any study guide should, at the least, cover all the test objectives. Some test objectives such as Legacy connectivity and Messaging have been totally left out which made me question the seal of approval from Sun Education! It is one thing not to cover an objective in detail, but totally dropping a couple of them is inexcusable. The editorial bragging "..in-depth coverage of every exam objective.." is simply a prevarication when the guide itself totally drops a few objectives. A good reader can easily point out some spottiness too - such as not including the state diagram for entity beans along with that of stateful and stateless session beans.
In summary, this guide will help you prepare for the test but you will need to supplement it with other study resources and notes. They badly need to fill some gaping holes, and to the extent possible, work towards completeness.
on September 27, 2002
Not only it's one of the best overviews of Java Archtitecture issues I've ever seen, it's the only you need to pass the first part of the architecture exam. I read the whole book in less than 2 hours the morning before the exam which was enough to get 100% on the majority of the test sections. It's a real art to write succinct, brilliant tech books, and this one definitely succeeds at it. And the design pattern section is absolutely superb, up-to-date, relevant, intuitive examples!
on March 24, 2004
Writing a certification guide poses some serious challenges to the author. Having co-authored a guide my self, I understand how tricky it is to decide how much to cover. A test like SCEA that covers such a broad ground makes the job even tougher.
The first ever SCEA guide met most of my expectations. It is concise, covers most of the exam objectives and most importantly, maintains the focus on the test without digressing over to J2EE trivia. Every chapter attempts to cover a set of objectives, and has a review section followed by some sample test questions. The accompanying answers provide explanation of correct, incorrect and not-so correct choices. The book also introduces a case study that introduces the reader to skills essential for solving part-II assignment.
I said the book covers "most" of the objectives. That's where it falls short of expectations. Any study guide should, at the least, cover all the test objectives. Some test objectives such as Legacy connectivity and Messaging have been totally left out which made me question the seal of approval from SunEducation! It is one thing not to cover an objective in detail, but totally dropping a couple of them is inexcusable. A good reader can easily point out some spottiness too - such as not including the state diagram for entity beans along with that of session beans.
In summary, they badly need to fill some gaping holes, and to the extent possible, work towards completeness.
on June 16, 2003
I was tempted to only give the book three stars, but it does accomplish what it sets out to do, which is to prepare you for the 48-question enterprise architect exam. The exam was somewhat easier than I expected, so I've moderated my initial opinion that the book was too simple--now it's the exam that I think is too simple, and the book is just right for the exam. Reading this book, just like taking the exam or gaining certification, won't make you an architect nor even prove that you already are one.
Note however that this book was published in March 2002, so it is already somewhat dated. However, as of June 2003 the SCEA exam still focuses on J2EE 1.2 (and EJB 1.1), so for now the book is still relevant to the exam. By the end of 2003 there should be a new version of the exam, and then the book will be out of date. (BTW, if you take the J2EE 1.2 version of the exam, beware not to answer any questions based on J2EE 1.3 or 1.4--for instance, there were no message-driven beans in EJB 1.1.)
One area the book completely misses, but which figures prominently in the exam, is the subject of interfacing with legacy systems. Fortunately for me I had plenty of experience interfacing with legacy systems already when I took the exam or I would have felt a little blind-sided by the lack of coverage for it in the book. (Hmmm...not sure if 'fortunately' is quite the right word to describe my experience with legacy systems.) Other than this omission, if you feel comfortable with the subjects in the book then reading this book (which won't take too long) should be enough preparation for the exam. Hopefully most of this will be review of stuff you already know with a few new pieces of information scattered throughout. I mean, you only need to get 33 out of 48 questions correct to pass, so it's not exactly rocket science.
on February 9, 2003
I carry around far too many books in business travel, so I appreciate the short ones: Fowler's UML Distilled comes to mind, as does Clark's Designing Storage Area Networks, Brooks's The Mythical Man Month, and Bloch's Effective Java.
Cade and Roberts have reduced their guide's content to the essential elements for test preparation; I appreciate that good work. Plenty of books try to boot-strap the reader into their topic in the name of reaching a broader audience. Trust me, you'll appreciate this effort less as the overlap in your book collection grows. You'll appreciate it even less still when you have to box them all up for a move.
If you've been working with web designs for a few years and have used a practical, higher-level language to describe new systems to other people, and you've been through J2EE systems a few times, you're probably ready to certify. All you need is some focus and an idea what to expect to build your confidence; this little study guide, complemented perhaps by studying with other test candidates, will take you the rest of the way.
on June 24, 2002
I found this book almost PERFECT for my needs. Short, concise, and focused on the exam. The sample questions were also very reflective of the exam. If you pass the sample questions, you are probably ready for the exam. With what you learn from the sample questions, content as well as question style, you should actually do a bit better on the exam. That was my experience- about 75% on the book questions, 87% (42/48) on the exam, with no extra study after my initial reading.
And considering the purpose of architect certification is to certify someone with 5+ years experience and deep understanding of design and architectural issues, then a more detailed book would be a thick painful experience. Also, a more detailed book would commit the authors to exposing more of the exam content, and devalue it as a fair measure of an architect. The fact that it requires a wide professional background with some core reading is excellent. If you struggle with the exam, enjoy the honest feedback! You have more reading to do, and experience to gain.
With sufficient experience in Java, UML, design patterns, security, general IT and web knowledge, and basic architectural principles, the book more than suffices. Basic EJB knowledge is sufficient since the book doesn't expect a programmer's knowledge of APIs and such.
If you are new to architecture, my recommendations are similar to another reviewers:
UML Distilled, Martin Fowler
Design Patterns, Gamma et al
Mastering Enterprise Java Beans, Roman, Amber, Jewell
EJB Design Patterns, Floyd Marinescu
And if you don't know enough about design patterns and UML to pass those chapters before even reading the chapters, you may be taking the exam a bit prematurely.
I will agree with one statement- the book lacks chapters on some of the objectives. But, considering that they might be considered fair prerequisites for someone qualified to take the exam, I'm not complaining. Though, in looking over my exam results, most of my wrong answers were from the sections without corresponding chapters...common architectures, legacy connectivity, messaging :(. I think my proclivity for screen-scraping did me in.
All-in-all, a masterful book and exam.
on May 9, 2002
I disagree with what some readers feel about the book. This book is just what a study guide should be. Concise and focused on the objectives of the exam. I read the book, took the exam and passed. I had very little time to study and this book, being so concise, definitely helped.
If it had taken 1000 pages to help me prepare for a 48 questions exam, then I would think that the author merely just did a 'cut and paste' from EJB specs and a few other books. Instead, this author bothered to extract the essence of the information required for SCEA and presented it to the reader.
Most of the sections - Security, I18n, Protocols, EJB, and Design Pattern are well written in an easy to understand and concise manner.
Having said all that, I wonder why some objectives are missing. Common Architecture, Legacy Connectivity and Messaging are left out completely. Also, the UML section could have covered a few more notations.
Still a good book for SCEA candidates but take note, it says "Study Guide" not "Idiot's Guide". So don't expect the book to teach you how to write the "Hello World" Bean.
on April 3, 2002
Firstly, I must say that the SCEAJ2EE certification is supposed to test candidates on a wide range of knowledge on J2EE and other enterprise technologies. I am not sure if it is possible to comprehensively squeeze all the information required for the exam into one single book of acceptable thickness. Probably a few good books are needed to serve the purpose.
In the past, many candidates faced a lot of problems preparing for the exam because they may not know where to start searching for the relevant information. There were quite a few books they have to read and each of them probably deals with one topic in great depth. There was no overview, just focus.
This book provides an overview to what kind of knowledge is needed to pass the exam. It may not be complete, but it provides a skeleton for one to build one's knowledge for the exam. After achieving a good breadth of knowledge, one can then go in-depth.
If the right kind of expectation is set, I believe this will proof to be a good book.
on March 28, 2002
This is the first published book for the SCJEA certification.
Although it's very light (less than 200 pages), it does cover
EJB, UML, Design Patterns, Security, Internationlization, and Protocols. It provides useful information on how to apply your
knowledges on these topics, but you should learn the knowledges
from practice or from other books. It contains some very interesting mock questions, on UML, Security, Internationalization, Protocols, which help you a lot to understand the concept in an architect's way. It provides a case study for part II and part III, although it is a good example, you need to know enterprise java architecting before reading this chapter.
I finally decide to give it 4 stars instead of 5 because of two reasons:
1. There is nothing about messaging. legacy connectivity.
2. They copied the nine sample questions from Sun's site, but gave no more explanation. What's more, in the book, the answer of question 5 is incomplete (it should be A, E, but in the book, the answer is E), and the answer of question 9 does not appear in the book (which is D).
Since it's the only one available, I suggest you buy (or borrow) this book...
on March 22, 2002
I have received the book yesterday and it is not quite what I expected. I was actually very dissapointed - having been waiting for the book to finally ship. I am an actual person (Software Engineer) intending to take the exam, not some person giving his educational view on the book - so you can be assured that this review is unbiased.
This book only has about 150 pages on the actual exam topics, then has a 21 page case study (Chapter 8). It is far too brief in reviewing exam topics and has very little in terms of actual content. In fact, one of the chapters isn't even on exam objectives (but you do have to know it to take the exam) - the chapter on UML was a good brief overview of the building blocks and the diagrams, but it takes up 24 pages alone - leaving only 125 pages of actual exam topic coverage (which is my point - far too little content).
I will admit, I have only read the first few chapters thus far (I have Security, Internationalization, and Protocols left), but am very dissapointed with the J2EE content covered, especially in chapter 2. There is only 20 pages on it! MUCH too sparse of coverage, there is no coverage at all of JMS for example - they only simply state that it exists as part of the J2EE platform!
I would recommend that this book be used more of a guideline as to what the objectives are. It does not seem to do a good job of suggesting additional readings either, so I have found that this book is very obsolete in being a 'study guide' for the SCEA exam.