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JSP Tag Libraries

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<pre>Author/s : Gal Shachor, Adam Chace, Magnus Rydin
Publisher : Manning Publications
Category : J2EE & Distributed Computing
Review by : Carl Trusiak - sheriff, June 2001
Rating : 9 horseshoes
A book dedicated strictly to the development of Tag Libraries.
You might think that would be a bit much. No way! The Authors
cover every aspect of developing and using JSP Tags. All the examples
are annotated in detail. You quickly learn every detail you need to
start developing sophisticated professional Tags.
No stone is left unturned. It covers Tags for JSP 1.1
and JSP 1.2. There are examples for Iteration, decision,
JDBC, EJB, JavaMail, WAP etc. A fully functional version
of the JDBC-driven WebStore and EJB-driven WAPStore are available
for download along with all the books examples.
The book is extremely well written and edited. I was hard put to
find 2 minor errors.
Every person or organization developing JSP�s should definitely get
copies of this book!
[Sample Chapters]
More info at
More info at
More info at
[This message has been edited by Johannes de Jong (edited December 05, 2001).]
"The Hood"
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From the publisher:
Manning Publications announces the release of:
JSP Tag Libraries
By Gal Shachor, Adam Chace, Magnus Rydin
How to develop powerful custom JSP tags
A V A I L A B L E J U N E 2 0 0 1
Greenwich, Connecticut -- The word in the web development community is that tags are the next big thing for JSP. With its leading book, Web Development with JavaServer Pages, going into a second edition this October, Manning is now reinforcing its leading position in the JSP space. A sneak preview of the 656 page JSP Tag Libraries debuted at JavaOne 2001 in San Francisco, California this week.
JavaServer Pages programmers who are looking to give their page developers a powerful yet simple syntax for building pages, will want them to use JSP tags. JSP Tag Libraries shows how to develop custom tag libraries that can separate presentation from implementation, expose functionality in robust and reusable packages, provide easy access to J2EE services, and ultimately avoid the use of scriptlets (with which a page developer can inadvertently cause errors or even shut down an entire system). The book also shows how tag libraries can clarify the flow of events in a page, making it easy to follow what's happening--and to find out what's not (i.e., to debug). It covers two full-scale use cases showing the effectiveness of tags in the context of e-commerce and of WAP applications.
Because tags help systematize reuse and let non-programmers access powerful system features, tag libraries are expected to have a huge impact on the way people develop JSPs. The book includes tags to perform iterations, access databases, access EJBs, use email systems, work with JavaBeans and do many other things. This book covers all aspects of JSP Tag development for scriptlet-free generation of online content. It focuses on reusable component-centric design via JavaBeans and custom tags to separate presentation from implementation.
For a closer look at JSP Tag Libraries, Manning offers components of the book online: the table of contents, two sample chapters, the index and source code can be viewed at the book's web page The publisher sponsors an Author Online forum where readers can pose questions to the authors and discuss with them topics related to their books. Found at the book's web page, Author Online is open to all visitors, including those who do not own the book.
JSP Tag Libraries is also sold as an ebook in PDF format. The ebook edition contains the complete text and illustrations of the printed edition, plus a linked index and bookmarks to every entry in the table of contents. It is available from the publisher's website and is sold at a considerable saving off the printed edition.
JSP Tag Libraries
by Gal Shachor, Adam Chace, Magnus Rydin
ISBN 1930110-09X
Printed Edition - Softbound, 656 pages, $44.95
Ebook Edition - PDF format, 8 MB, $13.95
Printed edition available from Manning and wherever technical books are sold
Ebook edition only available from publisher's Web site:
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Thank you very much for your positive review, its great to hear that people appreciate our book.
Please let us know what the 2 bugs were so that we can verify and fix it.
Magnus Rydin
Cindy Glass
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Well, Hi Magnus. Welcome to JavaRanch ! Apparently the REST of us need to read this book too.
One of our Moderators loves to visit Authors homepages. You wouldn't have a URL for a website would you?
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Yes Magnus,
I loved the book! I submitted the two very minor errors I found to the Authors Forum on the Manning site. I just checked, Adam is going to include them in the errata.

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Hi guys,
I recently wrote a rather lengthy review on this book for the AutinJUG. Here it is. Enjoy!
Book Review: JSP Tag Libraries
April, 2002
Reviewed by Michael J. Yuan for AustinJUG
Custom tag is one of the most important elements in JavaServer Pages (JSP) technology. Working with other server side Java components, such as JavaBeans, EJBs and JDBC, properly designed custom tag libraries allow developers to encapsulate and reuse code. Custom tags create a tag-based content authoring environment and allow web authors to write highly dynamic web applications in HTML style without learning the Java programming language. So, architects, developers and content authors can all benefit from studying JSP custom tags.
Manning's book "JSP Tag Libraries" by Gal Shachor, Adam Chace and Magnus Rydin (ISBN 1-930110-09-X) is an excellent JSP custom tag text suited for both new and seasoned developers. This book covers JSP specifications 1.1 and 1.2.
One of the main strengths of this book is that it does not merely repeat API documentations. The authors put a lot of effort to show the readers the big picture, the philosophy behind JSP custom tags and how to apply them in real world applications. This book talks about "why" as well as "how".
After studying this book, the reader should be able to understand:
* What JSP custom tags are and why we need them;
* How custom tags work;
* How to use tags to perform common and advanced tasks;
* Steps to develop and deploy tag applications;
* Basic design patterns for tag applications;
The book is very well organized and well written. It is full of excellent code examples. Those examples put the techniques into context. The readers can learn effectively by playing with the examples. As added bonuses, the code examples can be easily adopted for real world applications. In section "Case Studies", the authors discuss two complete multi-tier E-commerce and M-commerce applications. They offer not only code examples on applying practical techniques but also insights and templates on how to design good JSP applications.
All the code examples in the book are annotated with in-depth explaining text. That truly helps readers to understand not only what the code is doing but also what the authors intended to do.
However, there are still things I wish the authors could improve in the next version:
1. The authors had excellent discussions on how to implement conditional tags, iteration tags and database access tags. But they did not mention similar tag libraries under development by the Jakarta Taglib project. I would really like to hear about their insights on the designs of Jakarta tag libraries and many similar libraries developed by commercial companies.
2. In the "Case Studies" part, it is quite easy to add a parallel WAP store front to the JDBC-driven WebStore through another set of custom tags. That would really drive home the power of separating business logic from presentation logic and highlight the flexibility of a JSP custom tag based solution. I wish the authors had done that.
Overall, I think this is an excellent book and would like to HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone working with JavaServer Pages technology.
Part I: The Language of Tags.
The book starts off by introducing the big picture of tag-based dynamic Java server programming. The authors make the effort to explain WHY the tag-based approach is good for both developers and content authors. Even for experienced JSP developer, I recommend this first chapter since it reminds us why we would choose this technology and how it affects our choice of designs in real world development. The points made in the first chapter are well echoed throughout the rest of this book.
Then, the authors go on to describe basic Java and JSP syntax and give a quick example on how to develop and deploy a working custom tag. For a new developer, in less than an hour into the book, you already have a working custom tag deployed on your server to play with! Following that simple example, the book describes the custom tag APIs, life cycles and TLD files.
After reading Part I, the readers should understand how the custom tags work. But there are still a lot of finer points in the APIs that need more explanation. So, read on ...
Part II: Basic Techniques.
The book continues to discuss the tasks custom tags normally perform, such as handling attributes and tag bodies, writing tag output to the resultant page, logging and exception handlings. The authors do not talk about those techniques in dry terms. Instead, they give two very useful examples to illustrate the techniques: One is an email tag and the other is an improved JavaBean tag. The example of the JavaBean tag also helps the readers to understand how standard bean tags work and therefore how to use them more correctly and efficiently.
Part III: Advanced Techniques.
This part is a natural extension from Part II. The authors give more examples on how to use custom tags to perform sophisticated tasks. In this section, the book has four examples. Two of them are presentation flow control tag examples: conditional tags and iteration tags; The other two are backend access tags: JDBC tag and EJB access tags.
Part IV: Case Studies
In this part, the authors give complete examples of a JDBC-driven WebStore and an EJB-driven WAPStore. Through those two cases, the authors explain the design philosophy, architecture and approaches. They also give full annotated source code for implementations. After studying those two cases, the readers should be able to design and implement database or EJB driven multi-tier E-commerce or M-commerce applications on their own. The existing source code given in the book can be easily customized and applied to real world applications.
These two case studies really add value to the book and make it a must have for developers and architects alike.
Part V: Design
There is only one chapter in this section: tips and tricks. It discusses a number of misc designing and implementation issues, suggests best practices and reminds readers about the pitfalls. I recommend this section for all developers.
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
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