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October 28, 2005

JBoss at Work: A Practical Guide: Building and Deploying J2EE in the Real World

Sebastopol, CA--To say that you are a Java programmer these days is about as meaningful as saying "I play sports" or "I like food." Saying that you're a J2EE programmer provides a few more details, but still doesn't paint a complete picture. J2EE is a loose collection of server-side technologies that are related, but are by no means homogenous. As authors Tom Marrs and Scott Davis point out in their new book, JBoss at Work: A Practical Guide (O'Reilly, US $34.95), "Asking any one specialist to describe the J2EE toolkit brings to mind the story of the blind men and the elephant. Each blind man describes the elephant based on the part he touches." Their new book takes a different approach, describing the whole J2EE elephant in the context of JBoss, the popular open source J2EE container. "Like the technology it implements, JBoss is not a single monolithic application," Marrs and Davis explain. "Rather it is a family of interrelated services that correspond to each item in the J2EE collection."

Both authors are practicing software engineers who have worked together off an on for years, and both are former presidents of the Denver Java Users Group. Prior to beginning work on their book, they polled the group for potential interest, and noted that the same phrase came up over and over again: "I don't want to be an expert in it, I just want to make it work."

JBoss suits the "I just want to make it work" gestalt to a T, Marrs and Davis agreed. A developer can download, unzip it, and have it running in less than five minutes. Turning services on and off is as simple as adding or removing files from a directory. Because it's free, there are no per-seat or per-CPU licensing costs. JBoss is both a great learning tool and a production-quality deployment environment. But any tool as powerful as JBoss also has pitfalls and complexities.

"There was a huge need in the JBoss community for a book that was aimed at developers who wanted to use JBoss," says Marrs. "We found all kinds of good reference books that showed JBoss internals, but there was nothing that showed real working examples on how to deploy all of the core J2EE technologies, and Hibernate, for a typical application. So, our goal was to start with a simple example that did nothing (it had only static HTML pages) and then iteratively add in the rest of the technology stack: JSPs, Servlets, database access (JDBC and Hibernate), EJBs, JMS, security, web services, and logging. Instead of bombarding people with everything at once, we felt that people could learn how to use JBoss faster by adding one technology at a time."

"There aren't many books out there that take a holistic approach to software development," adds Davis. "Most books are what we affectionately call 'an inch wide and a mile deep.' they take a thin slice of an application--often a single API or library--and cover every possible aspect of it. While that level of depth is good to have, it can also lead to tunnel vision."

Davis and Marrs chose instead to write a book that is an "inch deep and a mile wide." Says Davis, "We wanted to show an entire application, end-to-end, and discuss all of the technologies that went into making it a success. Getting a single open source application installed and configured can be quite a challenge. Getting that same piece of software integrated with a dozen others can often be overwhelming. JBoss at Work shows you how to get all of the software synched up and working in unison."

As they work through the book, readers will develop an enterprise application from start to finish, learning how to:

  • Implement a full J2EE application and deploy it on JBoss
  • Discover how to use the latest features of JBoss 4 and J2EE 1.4, including J2EE-compliant web services
  • Master J2EE application deployment on JBoss with EARs, WARs, and EJB JARs
  • Understand the core J2EE deployment descriptors and how they integrate with JBoss-specific descriptors
  • Deploy JSPs, Servlets, EJBs, JMS, web services, JavaMail, JDBC, and Hibernate on JBoss
  • Base a security strategy on JAAS
  • "A full J2EE application is a complicated beast. There are many moving parts to it, and it can be tough seeing how each piece interacts with the others. JBoss at Work breaks down the J2EE stack into a series of individual chapters," says Davis. "If you read the book from start to finish, you'll see an application unfold before your eyes."

    Additional Resources:

    JBoss at Work: A Practical Guide
    Tom Marrs and Scott Davis
    ISBN: 0-596-00734-5, 278 pages, $34.95 US, $48.95 CA
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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