Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review for "Apache Wicket Cookbook"

Have you heard of Apache Wicket? It's a web framework that tries hard to eliminate all the XML configuration you see in most modern application frameworks. The developer produces two primary flavors of artifacts-- Java classes and HTML pages, and with these two your application is built. If this sounds interesting, you probably don't need to see this new book from Packt.

You may be wondering why I wrote that you don't need to see the "Apache Wicket Cookbook" if you found the description of Wicket interesting. The reason I wrote that is because this book is going to be of very little value to someone who's just found out about Wicket. But if the reader already knows the basics-- then this book is a powerful resource.

There's very little introductory material. The book is honest about this in stating the target audience-- it says if you've already written a couple of Wicket applications, then you're a good candidate to pick this one up. I agree. If you don't know the basics of Wicket, a lot of this will be over your head.

Still reading? Then you might be familiar with writing Wicket applications already, and might wonder what you'll find in this book. I'd summarize it by saying there's plenty of material for someone charged with writing real-world applications in Wicket. A few examples: Securing your application, editing pairs of fields based on values in each, displaying data in the form of charts and tables that are sorted when you click a header. Still want more? How about integration with Spring, Seam, and JPA? The book reads like a bunch of answers to support questions, provided by someone who really knows Wicket but doesn't have time to explain all the theory behind the answers. There's just a flat out explanation of what to do, backed by code examples that quickly import into Eclipse and run flawlessly. If you want to understand *why* what you're doing works, it's going to be up to you to follow up with Wicket reference material to see why. High level overviews are not in the very direct path this book takes.

The book is written by Igor Vaynberg, who is probably the most prolific contributor to Wicket, so you know the author knows his stuff. The use cases are supposed to be issues that real-world users will need to conquer, and again Igor is a good source for these. (He is well regarded in the Wicket community. I encourage you to consult your friend Google to check this out.) Igor knows what people are wanting to do, and he knows how to do it. This book is a collection of that kind of information.

The book is written in Packt's "Cookbook" format, which is exactly what this book needed. It presents a problem, tells you the steps to find the answer, then briefly (very briefly) explains how it works. In-depth research is up to you.

Final verdict: If you're an active Wicket user, you should buy a copy of this book. It'll pay for itself the first time you need to solve one of the roughly 50 scenarios it covers. You'll have the right answer, the first time, and a running example to help you understand it. If your sense of curiosity demands that you understand all the details of how those parts work-- that's extra credit research for you, dear reader. But your site will have the functionality you seek in short order.

The book can be found here.

Happy Wicketing!


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