April 22, 2005
"Spring: A Developer's Notebook": A Better, Simpler Way to Build Enterprise Applications
Sebastopol, CA--Bruce Tate describes himself as a bona fide weekend
extremist. "I've done some pretty crazy things on a mountain bike," he
confesses, "and I love to kayak." So naturally, Tate begins his
introduction to the Spring Framework with a tale of running the Little
River through the Great Smokey Mountains one March: "As we put in, two
inches of snow frosted the landscape, and flakes lightly dusted our boats
on another memorable, incredible day..." The intensity of the run left him
sleepless for a week. "The cold weather that starts a new paddling season
adds an indescribable kind of energy to a run," he explains. "There's just
something magical about the thaw--the springtime."
The Java community, however, is encountering a Spring of a different kind.
In Spring: A Developer's Notebook, (O'Reilly, US $29.95) Tate and
coauthor Justin Gehtland speak of the spring that follows the great freeze
of Enterprise JavaBeans 2.x. "Tens of thousands of applications lay in
frigid, near-death conditions in this well-intentioned, massive block of
ice," they observe. "EJB can suck the life out of developer if you're not
careful, and sometimes, even if you are."
After all, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) was supposed to be simple, but
it didn't turn out that way. Tate and Gehtland list several reasons why
EJB hasn't been the cure for J2EE developers' headaches that it was hoped
to be: you can't test EJB applications well, EJB is incredibly intrusive,
EJB forces unnatural design decisions, and so on. The Spring Framework,
on the other hand, cuts through layers of overhead and makes enterprise
application development simple again.
"As Java developers embrace the notion that not everything has to be
hyper-complicated to work, enabling technologies, such as Spring, will see
a big boom," says Gehtland. "Spring is more than just a 'lightweight
container.' It allows Java developers who are building J2EE apps to get to
the heart of their real domain problems and stop spending so much time on
the minutiae of providing services to their domain."
"Spring is one of the most important, rapidly growing open source projects
today," agrees Tate. "Spring freed me from thinking about the details of
transactions, security, and persistence. Spring simplified my code in ways
that EJB couldn't. Justin and I wrote about this experience in our Jolt
Award-winning book, Better, Faster, Lighter Java, but weren't able to
give Spring the full treatment it deserved. The Developer's Notebook
series was perfect for this."
"After we delved into it for Better, Faster, Lighter Java, Spring just
became more and more the enabling tool of choice for me when creating Java
applications," adds Gehtland. "Spring solves a lot of the configuration
and management problems so many teams struggle against, and the framework
provides a lot of sensible default implementations of emerging
technologies--like a good AOP framework, solid MVC implementation, and
support for more specialized frameworks like Tapestry and JSF."
Spring: A Developer's Notebook shows how to take advantage of Spring to
write lightweight applications that perform heavyweight tasks: how to put
effort into writing code that matters, not writing interfaces and
descriptors that make the container's bookkeeping come out right. Using a
hands-on, lab-style approach, the book shows developers how to:
Use the Inversion of Control pattern to simplify wiring classes together
Use Aspects to add services like transactions and security without pain
Use tools like Hibernate and iBatis
Use Spring MVC and Spring Rich to build web frontends and rich clients
Use Spring with frameworks such as Struts and JSF
Lightweight containers, aspect-oriented programming, and Inversion of
Control have a reputation for being confusing and difficult. And, in
earlier implementations, they were. They are simple and powerful in the
Spring world, however, especially when explained by someone who has been
there, struggled with the alternatives, and come to realize that there is
indeed a way out of the J2EE mess.
"With Spring: A Developer's Notebook, Bruce Tate and Justin Gehtland
offer a great way to get started with the Spring Framework," says Rod
Johnson, the creator of Spring, in his foreword to the book. "You'll find
the consistent structure helpful, as it takes you step-by-step through
important development activities. You'll find many code examples
demonstrating exactly how to use Spring to address common requirements."
Johnson notes that although Spring has a large and growing literature,
with more books coming out every quarter, this one fills an important gap:
"If you're new to Spring and need to get started quickly, you need this book."
Spring: A Developer's Notebook
Bruce A. Tate and Justin Gehtland
ISBN: 0-596-00910-0, 184 pages, $29.95 US, $41.95 CA
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