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Keywords: Java web applications, JSP, servlets, Tomcat, J2EE
Title: Murach's Java Servlets and JSP
Author: Andrea Steelman and Joel Murach
Level: Introductory, some Java required
Verdict: A great book for those who learn best by following worked examples, building software and trying things out
Murach's 'Java Servlets and JSP' provides a complete introduction to web programming with servlets and Java Server Pages (JSP) to developers with only a rudimentary knowledge of the Java programming language. Based around the open source Tomcat servlet engine, the book assumes no prior knowledge of web application programming, HTML, JDBC or any of the other technologies required to get the best of servlets and JSP.
The first section of the book introduces the basic architecture of web applications, walks through a simple installation of Tomcat and provides a crash course in HTML. It's all very basic stuff, but for anyone rusty or wanting a quick refresh there's enough in these three chapters to get going.
With the basics out of the way the next section of the book moves on to the core material - a complete tutorial on the basics of servlets and JSPs. The six chapters in this section of the book move from a very simple JSP page to servlets to the Model View Controller (MVC) pattern essential to modern web apps to custom tag libraries. The chapters move on logically from one to the other, naturally progressing and building on what has already been learned. The writing is admirably clear and the clear design that is the hallmark of Murach books pays dividends.
The next section of the book looks at database access using JDBC. Here again there's a refresher course on the underlying technology (SQL), coverage of an open source product (the MySQL database), before moving on to show how JDBC can be used with servlets/JSPs to provide web applications access to a database.
Section four of the book looks at more advanced skills, such as working with XML, Enterprise JavaBeans, JavaMail, using secure sockets (SSL) for security and more. As with the rest of the book the emphasis is on the practical rather than the theoretical.
The final section of the book looks at a complete worked example, in this case a CD store application, complete with shopping cart, downloads, email and so on. It's a complete application which shows how the various techniques tackled in the rest of the book all come together in a seamless fashion.
This isn't the newest book on the market, and the versions of Java, Tomcat, and MySQL which are featured in the book have all been superseded. However updates are available via the publisher's web site. What has not changed is the basic technology to any great extent, and the book remains a relevant and useful tutorial. While this is not a book that majors on theory or underlying principles, this is a great book for those who learn best by following worked examples, building software and trying things out.