Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Handiest Java Book in Years.

One of the constant challenges I have as a Java developer is keeping up with the numerous good FOSS dev tools. I no sooner start testing one tool and adapting my project to it, when a new one comes along. Being an analyst and naturally curious, this new product (or new release) represents a constant temptation. Is it better than what I am using? How much effort is required to try it out? What does it do better? On and on.

I can put a lot of those concerns to rest now. I just received a copy of Java Power Tools from O'Reilly and it's exactly what I've been looking for. It contains deep explanations of the principal FOSS dev tools in 10 major categories. These explanations are not two- or four-page summaries, but in-depth expositions that provide crucial info on the strengths and weaknesses of the product. The author, John Smart, then provides detailed tutorial on using the product. It's clear he's spent lots of time exploring the dark corners of each tool. And he makes good use of that knowledge in his comparisons and comments on the products.

If you want to spend an hour or so coming up to speed on what a product is about before installing it (and without having to work through the usually limited docs), this book will get you there faster and enable you get an overview of a whole lot of tools quickly and with the assurance you have a clear understanding. Here are the tools that are covered, followed by the number of pages for each one in parentheses:

BUILD TOOLS: Ant (55), Maven (60)
SCM: CVS (20), Subversion (78)
CI: Continuum (24p) Cruise Control (19) LuntBuild (32) Hudson (19)
IM: Openfire (12)
UNIT TESTING: JUnit (20) TestNG (25) Cobertura (17)
OTHER TESTING: StrutsTestCase (10) DbUnit (44p) JUnitPerf (10) JMeter (20) SoapUI (22) Selenium (30( Fest (9)
PROFILING: with Sun tools (16) with Eclipse (15)
DEFECT MANAGEMENT: Bugzilla (20) Trac (35)
QUALITY: Checkstyle (20) PMD (18p) FindBugs (12) Jupiter (18) Mylyn (14p)

All told, 856 pages of crisp, well-written explanations. A must-have reference for the bookshelf.