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Submission + - Struts 2 In Action from Manning (

wawannem writes: "One of my favorite recurring topics on /. is the debate over Java. So many hard-core geeks hate it, and before I started getting paid to use it, I was very apprehensive. Although many /.'ers and even some editors aren't Java fans, there are a few items that provide a good argument for Java —
  1. Java is a popular language.
  2. Java has good commercial support from big players (IBM, Oracle, Sun)
  3. 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 /. Despite that, Struts has remained extremely popular. The 1.x series of Struts was a difficult framework to learn and heavily constrained developers to following it's notion of MVC. Even with its drawbacks, Struts has remained the most popular framework. Since the inception of Struts, programming web-apps has changed quite a bit. Many of the drawbacks of Struts have led to the creation of many competing open source MVC implementations. One of the competitors was a little project called WebWork from opensymphony. Anyone who has used WebWork/XWork can tell you that it is architecturally solid and quite easy to pick up. At some point, the Struts devs hooked up with the WebWork devs and they decided to merge for the next iteration of Struts. This led to Struts 2 being released. Struts 2 has moved along quite nicely and gained some popularity, but a lack of documentation and the expectation that it would be similar to Struts 1 has led to quite a bit of confusion for developers.

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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Struts 2 In Action from Manning

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