Tuesday Jun 25, 2013

Book Review: Oracle ADF 11gR2 Development Beginner's Guide

Packt Publishing asked me to review Oracle ADF 11gR2 Development Beginner's Guide by Vinod Krishnan, so on a couple of long flights I managed to get through the book in a couple of sittings.

One point to make clear before I go into the review.  Having authored "The Quick Start Guide to Fusion Development: JDeveloper and Oracle ADF", I've written a book which covers the same topic/beginner level.  I also think that its worth stating up front that I applaud anyone who has gone  through the effort of writing a technical book. So well done Vinod.  But on to the review:

The book itself is a good break down of topic areas.  Vinod starts with a quick tour around the IDE, which is an important step given all the work you do will be through the IDE.  The book then goes through the general path that I tend to always teach: a quick overview demo, ADF BC, validation, binding, UI, task flows and then the various "add on" topics like security, MDS and advanced topics.  So it covers the right topics in, IMO, the right order.  I also think the writing style flows nicely as well - Its a relatively easy book to read, it doesn't get too formal and the "Have a go hero" hands on sections will be useful for many.

That said, I did pick out a number of styles/themes to the writing that I found went against the idea of a beginners guide.  For example, in writing my book, I tried to carefully avoid talking about topics not yet covered or not yet relevant at that point in someone's learning.  So, if I was a new ADF developer reading this book, did I really need to know about ADFBindingFilter and DataBindings.cpx file on page 58 - I've only just learned how to do a drag and drop simple application so showing me XML configuration files relevant to JSF/ADF lifecycle is probably going to scare me off!

I found this in a couple of places, for example, the security chapter starts on page 219 but by page 222 (and most of the preceding pages are hands-on steps) we're diving into the web.xml, weblogic.xml, adf-config.xml, jsp-config.xml and jazn-data.xml.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you shouldn't know this, but I feel you have to get people on a strong grounding of the concepts before showing them implementation files.  If having just learned what ADF Security is will "The initialization parameter remove.anonymous.role is set to false for the JpsFilter filter as this filter is the first filter defined in the file" really going to help me?

The other theme I found which I felt didn't work was that a couple of the chapters descended into a reference guide.  For example page 159 onwards basically lists UI components and their properties.  And page 87 onwards list the attributes of ADF BC in pretty much the same way as the on line help or developer guide, and I've a personal aversion to any sort of help that says pretty much what the attribute name is e.g. "Precision Rule: this option is used to set a strict precision rule", or "Property Set: this is the property set that has to be applied to the attribute". Hmmm, I think I could have worked that out myself, what I would want to know in a beginners guide are what are these for, what might I use them for...and if I don't need to use them to create an emp/dept example them maybe it’s better to leave them out.

All that said, would the book help me - yes it would.  It’s obvious that Vinod knows ADF and his style is relatively easy going and the book covers all that it has to, but I think the book could have done a better job in the educational side of guiding beginners.

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