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The book consists of 20 chapters. The first 12 chapters discuss the various salient aspects of JSP and the rest ( about two third of the whole book) is devoted to case studies.
A. THE BOOK'S STRENGTH:
By adopting Tomcat as its main testing software, the editors of "Professional JSP" have assured that most of the code examples will work. This is a big improvement over the past wrox books.
There are some excellent chapters in the first part. The discussion on session tracking is a real gem although the author failed to make a showcase of the code examples. The chapter on JSP Architecture contains some of the clearest explaination on the techniques of redirecting, forwarding and requestdispatcher. The chapter on customtags is equally very well done. But my favorite is the chapter on Global Settings, the idea is so practical. I also like the idea of emphasizing the importance of authentication which showed in many chapters of the book.
The case studies will serve as an excellent reference. Its coverage ranges from (1) the front end of an insurance company (2) a good pictures website which use JSP to publish its data (3) Security with JNDI (4) a online store using LDAP and JSP (5) J@EE, EIBs and Customtags (6) Multimedia and JSP (7) Weather website with JSP, XSLT and WAP (8) Porting ASP to JSP.
2. BOOK'S WEAKNESS:
The book is a combined effort of many authours and its unevenness showed. The first three chapters to introduce to JSP are out of place and a real waste. The chapter on Dynamic GUIs is a great idea which turned into a joke: after showing the general diea how to do it, the author sent readers to his website to learn the rest(?). And the chapter on JDBC connectivity and Pooling is a big disappointment: most of the chapter devoted to get connection, create databse,editing it and make query; and the rest the author explained how to use his own pool manager package, PoolMan. This wouldn't be too bad if PoolMan worked, with Tomcat.
The richness of the case studies is also its weakness. Unless you are experienced and have the facilities, you can't test them all. These techniques become obsolete pretty quick.
Probably the strongest objection to the book is its price. Buy it for your company and share with your colleague.
After the JSP fundamentals are out of the way (which I am sure any JSP newcomer will appreciate and can benefit from), the book picks up pace with discussion on JDBC connection pooling, and the best practice for data access from JSP. Then comes the chapter on custom tags. My favorite chapters are the ones on debugging JSP's and implementing the MVC design pattern in JSP/servlets.
The case studies are very comprehensive and closely correlated to the earlier chapters. In one case study the design methodology is clearly explained with UML diagrams, which are very helpful to someone who is currently architecting an enterprise Java Web application. Other case studies cover such a wide area of topics such as JSP in combination with LDAP, EJB, XSL, and WAP.
For ASP developers, this books has two enormously useful chapters to get them started on JSP right away. One is a case study showing how to port an ASP app to JSP, and the other compares and contrasts the object model and syntax between ASP and JSP.
Having said all the above, this book does suffer from certain weaknesses. One is typical of any multi-author book, i.e., repeat of the same topic in different chapters. This is the case with JDBC, which shows up in both chapters 4 and 7. Another problem is the lack of the use of a standard servlet/JSP container, which will help new users to run all samples under the same software setting (although there is an appendix on setting up Tomcat server). Finally, a few chapters seem to be out of place in term of the logic flow of concept, such as the ones on dynamic GUI's and JNDI.
Finally, this book is still thin on heavy-duty J2EE topics, such as EJB, distributed transactions, message service, and interoperability with CORBA. This is why I consider it as an intermediate level book, not an advanced one. Hopefully we will see another Wrox book in the near future that addresses some of these issues.
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