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Keywords: Java, emerging technologies, software methodologies
Title: The No Fluff Just Stuff 2006 Anthology
Author: Neal Ford
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Verdict: Interesting range of topics - though not all of them make grab your attention
The No Fluff Just Stuff (NFJS) symposia have achieved a reputation for providing the geekiest content to its developer audiences. Primarily focused on Java and open source technologies, the symposia major on delivering sessions devoted to leading edge technologies presented by the leading practitioners. Audiences are deliberately kept small, and the usual presenter/audience barrier is actively discouraged. The aim is to encourage sharing of knowledge and experience as much as possible.
Now, thanks to the good folks at the Pragmatic Bookshelf, a selection of speakers from the 2006 symposia each get to do one or more chapters in this first NFJS anthology. While it's not directly billed as a 'best of NFJS 2006', that's certainly the impression that a book like this creates. And, inevitably, it prompts the question what's the fuss about no fluff just stuff?
The first point to be made is that there is a pretty eclectic bunch of topics covered in the book. Web services, SOA, Spring AOP, CSS, Domain Specific Languages (DSL), agile techniques, Apache Shale, testing and plenty more. It's an impressive range of topics, certainly anyone expecting run of the mill enterprise Java is in for a pleasant surprise.
Each of the chapters is a self-contained piece; part tutorial, part discussion and part thinking out loud. The tone is nearly always fairly informal ? one colleague talking to another rather than a teacher talking to students. And there's an assumption that the reader is technically competent, though that doesn't mean that the reader is already familiar with the topic at hand.
Obviously with a range of topics, some are going to be of more interest than others. For this reader at least some chapters stand out in terms of level of interest.
David Geary's piece on Shale is an excellent introduction to the Apache project's new MVC (Model View Controller) framework. As one of the main candidates to be the successor to the extremely successful Struts, Shale warrants further investigation and this a great place to start. Neal Ford, who is also the editor of the book, contributes an interesting chapter on building DSLs. For those interested in design patterns, Brian Sletten's chapter on Extreme Decorator is a must read. More enterprisey topics include a look at real world web services by Scott Davis, Stuart Halloway's chapter on aspect oriented programming in Spring and a look at Enterprise Service Bus by Mark Richards.
And for those interested in processes and methodologies there are a number of chapters to look out for, including Jared Richardson's look at continuous integration builds and Venkat Subramaniam's quick intro to agile methodologies.
Aside from the individual chapters, the book also includes an appendix where the different contributors tell us what they've been reading recently and what tools they've been using. This adds to the geek appeal, without doubt.
To conclude then, there's plenty of food for thought packed into this relatively slim book.