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Keywords: Java, JEE, JSP, web applications
Title: Tomcat: The Definitive Guide
Author: Jason Brittain with Ian Darwin
Verdict: Recommended for Tomcat administrators and architects
Tomcat is the world's most popular Java servlet and JSP container, without question. It's a key part of the open source stack that powers many web applications - both in the enterprise and on the internet. However, if we're honest getting Tomcat installed, configured and tuned is no easy task in many cases, particularly for more complex applications. Tomcat: The Definitive Guide aims to be just that, the definitive guide to all aspects of Tomcat installation, configuration and administration. Specifically the book covers Tomcat 5.5 and Tomcat 6.0, though the latter is recommended by the authors and gets most of the attention.
The opening chapter is about getting started - installing, starting up and stopping Tomcat, with some history and background thrown in for good measure. Chapter two is in many respects the core chapter of the book - this is where you get the low-down in how to configure Tomcat to do your bidding. From using an alternative to port 8080 to changing JSP compilation to session management, CGI and more. Deployment of applications is covered in some detail in chapter three, including hot deployment and automation using the Ant build tool.
Performance tuning, including capacity planning gets a chapter, with a good discussion of the difficulties of measuring web server performance. In terms of performance bench-marking there is coverage of a number of tools including JMeter, Siege and the Apache Benchmark tool. Integration with the Apache web server and Tomcat security also get a chapter apiece.
Tomcat configuration is via a selection of config files (server.xml, web.xml, context.xml and the rest). Chapter seven looks at these configuration files and the various settings that are available. This part of the book is most obviously reference material rather than pure tutorial, but it's useful nonetheless, even most of this is available on-line.
Debugging and troubleshooting is covered in a relatively short chapter, and there's a chapter on compiling from source and another on clustering. And finally, the book ends with closing words and a few appendices tacked on the end.
For administrators and those interested in the architecture of Java web applications this book provides some excellent material. The writing is of a uniformly high standard - technical without being academic and always with the practical side of things in mind. However, for Java developers coding applications to be deployed within Tomcat there's not really that much that's geared to that side of things. If you're looking for tips and techniques to build better servlets or JSPs then this isn't really the right book for you. However, with that proviso in mind, it does provide excellent background on how Tomcat works for programmers looking for a more detailed over-view.
In all, this is a great tutorial and resource for Tomcat administrators.