Struts Book Roundup

I just finished teaching a 6-week tutorial on Struts. As part of the prep for this class, I went through all of the Struts books I owned (Current Count: 5) and tried to figure out which book I was going to recommend as a tutorial that they could use for this class. I was able to bring the list down from five to two easily, but selecting just one book was a little hard.

The two books that I selected were Programming Jakarta Struts by Chuck Cavaness and Struts in Action by Ted Husted. Struts in Action is really a good book but I felt the Chuck Cavaness’s book did a better job of acting as a tutorial. Here are some of my thoughts on these books that I posted in review on Amazon.

Programming Jakarta Struts
Chuck Cavaness
Paperback: 462 pages
Publisher: O’Reilly & Associates; 1st edition (November 2002)
ISBN: 0596003285

Programming Jakarta Struts is a great book. I bought this book the first day it came out and read it cover to cover. This was one of the first books out that covered Struts 1.1 in any detail. Chuck Cavaness, the author had published most of the book on where readers could review the beta copy of the book and so I knew this was going to be a great book.

The book starts with an intro to Web development, servlets and JSP pages before jumping into the basics of the Struts framework. Chuck does a great job in breaking down the components of the Struts framework and explaining them in details. After the intro, the book builds into the guts of the Struts framework with detailed chapters exploring MVC, the Action classes, Model components and the display tier.

The chapter on tag libraries is very well written. The author mentions JSTL, the JSP Standard Tag Library but only includes a 2-page summary of JSTL. I wish the section on JSTL had a little more meat to it. I think this probably had something to do with the timing of the publication of the book and the JSTL standard.

I also liked the chapter on the validation framework. With the framework wasn’t covered in any detail, there was still enough information to get you started with the validation framework. In the later chapters, the author discusses EJB integration in Struts and provides some good best practices for that integration.

To summarize, this is a great book and has to be one of the best Struts tutorial books out there. I should know, as I own about five Struts book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about Struts.

Struts in Action
Ted Husted
Paperback: 664 pages
Publisher: Manning Publications Company; (November 2002)
ISBN: 1930110502

Struts in Action is a good book that has some flaws. I had this book pre-ordered on Amazon from the minute I heard about its publication. The lead author Ted Husted is very active in the Struts development community and still manages a great Struts resource site.

I read the book right away and spent a few weeks going over all the examples in the book. My overall feeling is that this is a good book but it suffers from a lot of the same thing that affects other Struts book. These books were published right around the release of Struts 1.1 and so they are on the fence where they talk about Struts 1.0 and 1.1. Since I had used Struts 1.0 before, the sections that described the changes from 1.0 to 1.1 was very helpful.

Like other books, there is some mention of JSTL but not any details. The section on tag libraries is extensive and well written.

Struts in Action is really a good book but I felt the Chuck Cavaness’s book did a better job of acting as a tutorial. So if you only want to buy one Struts book, I would recommend the Chuck Cavaness book. However, if you want more than one, I would highly recommend this book as your second book on Struts.