Java - JSP Books


Featuring: Java Servlet & JSP Intro and Cookbook

We think we have found a very good combination of books covering the fast growing Java Servlet and JSP technologies. The two Java technologies provide a simplified path into full J2EE framework and also work very well in read-only type applications like static database queries and report writing. Marty Hall and Larry Brown's Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages-2end edition provides not just a gradual and thorough introduction to Servlets and JSPs but also detailed installation instructions for 3 popular servers while Bruce Perry's Java Servlet and JSP Cookbook provide many very useful how to examples for doing real world Servlets and JSP applications.

Core Servlets and JSP by Marty Hall and Larry Brown (Prentice hall 2004 - $50US) is 700 pages of carefully laid out instructions on how to get started in coding Java Servlets and JSPs. The book assumes a familiarity with Java so those diving in with no Java may want to check out one of the 12 free books at But after this, Hall and Brown lavish careful explanations on potentially one of the most vexing problems with Servlets and JSP - getting an appropriate Servlet and JSP server running. All the details including extensive confirming tests take up the first 60 pages of the book ad explain how to install completely install Apache's free, open source Tomcat 4 or 5 servers, Macromedia's free developer edition of JRun 4, and Resins fast performing server. In addition the authors provide hints on BEA Weblogic and IBM's Websphere. And in the process of getting installed and started users also get a very good basic grounding in servlets and JSPs.

The ensuing chapters discuss HTTP coding, handling cookies and session tracking, plus processing form data using the Servleta pproach. Part II starts the JSP idetailed intro 300 pages into the book and gets users upto speed with the different coding methods including use of JSP scripting elements, expressions and scriptlets. There are complete devoted to JDBC and JavaBeans but no detailed coverage of TagLibs or integration with EJB-Enterprise JavaBeans - that is part of the Core 2 book. Nonetheless, Hall and Brown with this book and their associated website,, provide the perfect match for the JSP Cookbook reviewed just below.

Java Servlet & JSP Cookbook

Java Servlets and JSP-Java Server Pages are already popular and are likely to become more so with the wave of new Java application development tools due through 2004. As well there are a whole line of Java report writing tools from DataBeacon, Jinfonet, and ReportMill who deliver output in diverse formats but whose backbone to the Web is Servlet technology. So the release of Java Servlet and JSP Cookbook by Bruce Perry (ISBN 0-596-00572-2, $45US) is very appropriately timed. There will be demand just for this recipe based approach to developing with Java Servlets.

A word of cauution on what this cookbook is not. Do not expect a measured intro into Java Servlets or JSP. Yes, like any good chef Bruce sets up the kitchen and tools very well and in the first two chapters delivers recipes on how to get your Java Servlets deployed on Tomcat(an Open Source JSP server) and BEA WebLogic Server 7

a popular commercial J2EE server. In addition Perry introduces users to Apache Ant as a tool for making (compiling and deploying) Java Servlets.

The recipes are concise and thorough. Typical is page 83, Compiling a Servlet with an Ant Buildfile. As always Perry starts with a brief Problem statement followed by a Solution paragraph. This is a summary paragraph on how the Problem will be solved. Finally, the Discussion section details with code examples, diagrams plus tips and traps to beware-of exactly how to solve the problem. So its the set of problems that Perry chooses to solve that help to make the book. And Perry has chosen well.

The book quickly steps through recipes for handling forms in JSP and uploading files. Then comes the session management topics including cookies, session tracking and a look ahead into stepping into JNDI and Enterprise Beans. But in welcome fashion, the content sticks to bread and butter issues such as using JavaScript with forms, database connections, eMail setup and then using tag libraries effectively including using JSTL-JSP Standard Tag Library. I found the example code brief but effective in getting users up to speed in the many options available to JSP developers. There is a very interesting chapter at the end on how to setup Servlets and JSPs to take advantage of the Google and Amazon Web APIs.

But this chapter and the use of Ant and BEA Weblogic raise the question - what makes it into a O'Reilly book and what does not? There is no mention of the Struts Framework or JBoss, the Open Source J2EE server or Eclipse the GUI interface for JBoss and IBM's Websphere JSP and J2EE server plus many other Java tools. Why is BEA Server shown and not JBoss, Novell nXTend, Oracle 9iAS, Sun One, nor Websphere among others. True, at 720 pages the JSP Cookbook is already loaded to the hilt with great recipes and examples. But are Perry and O'Reilly just setting us up for the equally informative sequel - JSPCookBook 2 - A Goulash of JSP, GUI, and Servers ?

Jacques Surveyer admits to being a web developer; see his work here.

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