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Out Of My Hands

Posted by editor on September 24, 2007 at 7:50 AM PDT

On not judging books by their covers

Friday's blog about coding versus writing was in part responsible for the current poll, which asks "Which factor is most important in choosing a book on a Java topic?" Unintentionally or not, all the factors I chose as responses are external in nature, things you could know without actually opening the book (though the "what people are saying about it" option implies access to other sources of info about the book). I was sort of looking for these external factors that go into what makes you pick a specific title.

So, of course, it didn't even take a day to get called on that one. On the results and discussion page, mike__rainville points out a couple of factors that guide his book-buying purchases, and all of them are content-driven:

  • License to use code in my applications
  • Useful prior edition(s)
  • Complete instructions to quick start for practical use
  • Reasonably current version support
  • Strategic, reference implementation APIs, not tied to any particular IDE (aiming for portable applications)

Now my question back to Mike is, can you really evaluate these without having access to the full content of the book, before you buy it? Even if you look up the book on the publisher's page, it may not be completely clear what version of the topic is covered, what its license is, or some of these other factors. Having this kind of pre-purchase knowledge almost requires you to be able to pick the book off a shelf and read it first... and that's problematic, because bookstores have been reducing their shelf space for programming books pretty consistently since dot-bomb. What was once two racks of Java books at my nearby Barnes & Noble is now half a rack, not as a result of Java fading relative to other languages, but as a result of the entire programming section shrinking.

I'd love to be able to pick up programming books and really evaluate them before I buy. But unless the topic is really mainstream -- think CSS and not MMAPI -- it's probably not practical.

So what do you do to make an informed decision? Or are books not even the best source of information anymore? That could be a whole new discussion...

In Java Today,

Jean-Francois Arcand's Blog offers an introduction to Grizzlets, a small API that lets you write Comet-style Ajax applications more easily. He writes that rather than expecting developers to create their own Comet implementations with Servlets, "it would be much more simple if we can write a single POJO class, hook it to an Ajax client, and bang make it work! So here comes Grizzlet, an extremely simple POJO based approach to write Comet based application!" In a code example, he shows that Grizzlets are POJOs, implementing a single Grizzlet interface.

The latest edition, issue 139, of the Java Tools Community newsletter is out, with tool news from around the web and from community projects, announcements of new projects in the community, and a Tool Tip summarizing Daniel Lopez's eight-part "Scripting Away with Java 6" series, in which he experiments with different scripting languages on the JVM.

Recorded at QCon London, Scott Delap provides An Overview Of Desktop Java Technologies In Todays RIA World. The 49-minute session covers "the technologies that are making the development of desktop applications easier today, and also advances in deployment techniques such as Java Web Start and Pack200 which assist in the centralized deployment of desktop applications. Finally, the session will look at which situations where desktop java applications should be considered versus other technologies such as Ajax, Flex, and OpenLazslo."

In today's Weblogs,
Roberto Chinnici offers an illuminating
Java EE 6 Platform (JSR-316) Update.
"In the spirit of transparency, I'm going to be posting regular updates on the work of the Java EE 6 expert group (JSR-316). For the most part, this is going to be a condensed version of the updates that are sent to registered observers to the expert group."

Unmark Occurrences, Gregg Sporar writes:
"there is a nice feature in NetBeans IDE 6.0 that can be a bit overwhelming, but you can tune the options to get the exact behavior you want."

Finally, Mark Lam takes a fresh look at ME internals in
VM Inspector 0.1: Some new stuff.
"Some new features have been added to the CVM's VM Inspector. This entry will give you a quick update on this."

This week's Spotlight is on
the SailFin project, a communication application server that provides SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) functionality to GlassFish. As the project page points out, "SIP and SIP Servlets are behind many popular services we enjoy today, like Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service, instant messaging, presence and buddy list management and web conferencing." The project currently implements JSR-116 functionality and is working towards JSR 289 compatibility. SailFin Milestone 1 came out in October, and Milestone 2 is expected in October.

In today's Forums,
terrencebarr describes how to get the Mobile Aerith demo running in
Re: SVGMobileAerithDemo & uilabs_demos.jar ???
"There currently is no ready-to-run binary of the Mobile Aerith demo available. But running it yourself is easy. Check out the code from the link Borrys supplied using subversion. [...] Then open the project using NetBeans 5.5.1 with Mobility pack by pointing NetBeans to the top-level directory of MobileAerith. After NetBeans has opened the project just click the "Run" button in NetBeans and off you go."

hotjar would like to know
How to evaluate expressions in the java source debug context?
"As a swing developer, I usually need to debug something in the java source debug context. That's always not obvious (Even in this morning, I was pissed off for someone let a JTree's root node have a parent. That cost me two hours to debug and guess), and I got used to cost my whole lovely morning to find a clue in the java source code. Because I can not evaluate expressions in the java source debug context, at least, eclipse does that way. I want to konw if Netbeans can do that, or if that is a way to make eclipse work."

Finally, wisem adds a request to the
Re: Embeding JMAKI widgets in a JMAKI grid widget thread:
"I too want to use the Ext widgets within JMaki, and in what little spare time I have I am currently working on adding various Ext widgets. An older release of JMaki came with the Ext menu, tree and editable grid widgets bundled in a .zip file. This is what I am adding to in the hope that they can be used in the future. It may be an option for you to use the library from this older release (don't know if the Ext licensing would permit this), but I know from a previous post of mine that the JMaki team were hoping to be able to distribute Ext widgets as a separate bundle."

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On not judging books by their covers