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A Summer Reading List for Web Programmers

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What books do you recommend? This is a question frequently asked at my Java seminars. I have a list of favorites, but I often don’t answer the question well because of memory limitations. Now, however, in front of me sits a stack of my favorite books and I’m finally going to answer that question in full. So reserve a little space in your carry-on luggage, because this summer, you’re going to do a little reading.

It’s been said that the only way to learn is through analogies. We can’t learn something new unless we can relate it to something we already understand—like legacy OS/400 programming. Besides, our new Web applications need to integrate with our existing OS/400 applications. That’s why the first section of my list includes those that are published by Midrange Computing:

• Mastering HTML
• e-RPG: Building Web Applications with RPG
• E-deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web
• Java for RPG Programmers
• Java Application Strategies for iSeries and AS/400—Second Edition
• iSeries and AS/400 SQL at Work

I own five books on HTML, and Mastering HTML is the only one I’ve read cover- to-cover. Why? The other books go into too much detail on stuff I don’t need to know. Note that my 14-year-old twins both taught themselves HTML and JavaScript from this book. The next two books cover methodologies for extending your applications to the Web that leverage your legacy programs and programmers. The first half of e-RPG has an excellent introduction to HTTP, HTML, and JavaScript before it moves into using RPG to dynamically build Web pages. E-deployment uses Java as Web middleware that communicates with your legacy RPG application through data queues. The next two books cover Java using analogies. Java for RPG Programmers gives complete coverage of the Java language by comparing it to RPG IV. My book, Java Application Strategies, complements the previous book, as it goes into application design and, with this second edition, has a section on Web architectures. iSeries and AS/400 SQL at Work covers SQL completely, including how to debug and performance tune your SQL applications.



My next list of books is from other publishers:

• Inside Servlets: Server-Side Programming for the Java Platform
• Web Development with Java Server Pages
• Practical Java Programming Language Guide: The Addison-Wesley Professional Computing Series
• Enterprise Javabeans: Developing Component-Based Distributed Applications
• Design Patterns

Book Highlights

My own copies of these five books are in tatters. You see, when I read a technical book I have a highlighter on one ear and a pencil on the other. I highlight sentences that explain important concepts and I also pencil in thoughts and new understandings. Later, I go back and re-read the highlighted sections and revise my penciled thoughts. Grab your own highlighter and pencil and begin reading Inside Servlets. You’ll find it an easy read, even though it has a relatively complete coverage of Sun’s Servlet API. Inside Servlets, like e- RPG, has an excellent introduction to HTTP and HTML.

I have two copies of Web Development with Java Server Pages. One is a PDF soft- copy that cost me $14 when I downloaded it from www.manning.com. But I found the soft copy to be so valuable that I ordered a hard copy.

Hard-core Reading

The last three books on my list are for those of you who are already comfortable with Java but want to move on to more advanced development. Practical Java Programming Language Guide covers best programming practices for Java that will improve your application’s performance and maintainability.

If you are developing an all-Java application, then you need to consider Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs). (For more on EJB, read my Web article, “EJB for Everyone,” at www.midrangecomputing.com/ mc/article.cfm?titleid=b1537&md=200010.) While there is a small learning curve with EJB, one of its great strengths is that it is a standard architecture that you’ll use over and over again. After surmounting that first short, but steep, EJB learning curve, you can breathe easy because the curve flattens out. Tom Valesky’s Enterprise Javabeans is the best introduction to EJBs that I’ve read.

The last book on my list is Design Patterns. Definitely buy that book last, if you buy it at all. I’m hesitant to recommend it, because it is decidedly complex. Read it only if you want to be an object-oriented programming expert. If you read Design Patterns you will perhaps understand only some of it. But, if you use it regularly as a reference, you will be a step ahead of those Java developers that don’t have a well-thumbed copy of Design Patterns on their bookshelf.

Apologize to your spouse and get a hold of a few of these books. Then use the idle moments of your summer vacation to read them. Go ahead and get sand in those books; get ice cream on their pages; mark them up with highlighter, pencil, pen, or crayon. Whatever—the point is that you and your legacy applications need to become Web-enabled, and my list of books is a great place to start.



Don Denoncourt

Don Denoncourt is a freelance consultant. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


MC Press books written by Don Denoncourt available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Java Application Strategies for iSeries and AS/400 Java Application Strategies for iSeries and AS/400
Explore the realities of using Java to develop real-world OS/400 applications.
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