Simon P. Chappell writes "Life is busy enough without writing your own infrastructure code. With all of the high-quality frameworks available today, it's no longer necessary to even think about writing low-level code (except as a technical exercise, or to express your inner geek :-) Our problem today, is to review and select the best available framework for our needs. This is a non-trivial task, but help is at hand with Java Frameworks and Components by Michael Nash." Read on for the rest of Chappell's review.
OverviewThis book is a superb exploration of the current state of the web application development framework market. Both commercial and open-source/free frameworks are examined in detail.
The book works through a logical progression, starting with a discussion of what a framework is (and, of course, what it isn't) before moving on to an examination of the benefits that they bring to development efforts. The meat of the book is in the next couple of chapters where a framework (no pun intended) is explored to select and compare frameworks. A list of current frameworks is given, each being described, with strengths and weaknesses highlighted.
The trailing chapters cover aspects of development that are affected by the use of frameworks, including the obvious ones like IDE support and methodologies.
What's To LikeThe aspect that most impressed me was the depth of research that has obviously gone into this book. I think most of us know that frameworks are good, and a reasonable number of us could list several reasons why they are good, but I suspect that very few of us could generate such a comprehensive and cogent rationale for using a framework.
The information density in this book is quite high. Normally, I read technical books quite quickly, but this one took a while, because every good point prompted much thought and consideration. This was impressive to me after seeing so many books coming to the market that have simplification as their rationale for existence. The selection of an appropriate framework for web application development is not a simple task and this book takes it very seriously.
While non-free frameworks might be a non-issue for some of the Slashdot crowd, those of us working in corporate I.S. have to be very aware of the differences and our local management's attitudes concerning it. The book does come out strongly in favour of open-source and free software, but does not let this bind the discussion in any way. Commercial and free software are judged equally and fairly throughout.
Pragmatic is a much over-used word these days, but I would describe this book as pragmatic. The advice given concerning framework selection, urged people to consider many factors, including existing frameworks used in-house, the type of project, the degree of accordance between the services provided by the framework and the requirements for the system being written. I have seen many a framework selected because it was buzzword compliant, so this advice was a refreshing change.
What's To Consider
After enjoying the book, to reach the case studies and be disappointed was, well, disappointing. The case studies seemed rushed and lacking in substance. The idea of comparing and contrasting the four leading frameworks to solve the same problem was a good one, but somehow it didn't quite come off. The Struts case study got to me the most: I have conniptions everytime I see business logic in actions! Perhaps the case studies could be dropped in a future edition?
A tour de force! With only one quibble, this is the definitive work on Web application frameworks.
Table Of Contents
1. Components and Application Frameworks
2. Components: The Future of Web-Application Development
3. Application Frameworks: What Do They Provide and What Are the Benefits?
4. Choosing an Application Framework
5. A Catalog of Application Frameworks
6. Comparing Frameworks
7. Open Source and Components/Frameworks
8. Development Methodologies and Design Patterns
9. Integrated Development Environments
10. Strategies for Using Frameworks: Best Practices
11. Conclusions: The Future of Frameworks and Components
Appendix. Case Studies
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