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- Java is a popular language.
- Java has good commercial support from big players (IBM, Oracle, Sun)
- I've made a good living since I picked it up as a skill.
Even if you aren't a Java developer, if you are a web developer, you have at least heard of the Struts framework. It seems like a new Java framework is born as often as a topic gets rejected on
Struts 2 In Action from Manning attempts to fill in the blanks as both an introduction to Struts 2 and a partial reference. Struts 2 is a comprehensive framework that provides a lot of functionality, so it would be impossible for a single volume to thoroughly cover all aspects of Struts 2 development. If you are looking for a reference on Struts 2 AJAX tags, this book will not work. If you are working with Struts 2 on a regular basis or are curious about adopting it for a future project this book is definitely a good fit.
Struts 2 In Action walks developers through many common use-cases where Struts 2 will help. The example content and easy-to-read text make the book readable from cover-to-cover. This book will work for many levels of reader. Due to the lack of online documentation on certain topics, experienced Struts 2 developers will likely find clarification on topics like OGNL, new developers will find a thorough introduction that will lead to productive development. The authors did a very good job of creating creating examples that covered the material. This is a bit of a difficult task considering the size of the framework, but I was very impressed with each chapter. Each chapter could nearly stand alone because the authors were able to cover the topic without delving too far into side topics.
All-in-all, this is a good book, and likely to be the only book necessary if your goal is to learn to use Struts 2 or hone your skills on Struts 2. Although I hate book reviews that fill space by telling you what's in the book, Amazon doesn't have a Table of Contents, so I feel a bit obligated to say what's covered. The book is broken into 5 main parts — Part 1 is a quick introduction into JSP development and a small Struts 2 example. Part 2 covers core components, writing actions, using and configuring interceptors, type conversion and OGNL. Part 3 moves into the View of the MVC, it covers results and tags. Part 4 covers more advanced topics — Spring/Hibernate integration, input validation and i18n. Part 5 wraps it up with struts 2 plugins, best practices, and migration from Struts 1.
There are many topics the authors chose not to cover (AJAX, Sitemesh, and JSF to name a few). I was a bit disappointed not to find some of these topics at first, but to create a book covering everything that Struts 2 can do and all the ways to integrate it with popular technology is not a reasonable expectation. I would expect that if Struts 2 continues gaining popularity, more volumes will be released covering these topics. This book concentrates on the fundamentals and delivers a thorough explanation which will serve it's readers much better than a light intro into everything.
For the sake of full-disclosure, I will say that I am one of the Struts developers, and I want people to read the book because it does a great job of answering many questions that would otherwise make their way to the mailing lists."
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