The state of POJO play

'Plain Old Java' back in fashion

Book review Few could deny that one of the biggest drivers of change in the Java world recently has been the complexity of "enterprise Java".

The complexities of EJB 2.x, with forests of XML configuration files, boiler plate script, the slow edit-compile-debug cycle forced by having to deploy to a server, the reliance on procedural code...

The list of problems is well known, and has been chronicled frequently and vociferously by any number of well-known Java developers.

However, a positive spin-off has been an explosion of interest and activity in what have been termed "rebel J2EE" frameworks. Spring, Hibernate, JDO and countless other frameworks have been developed to tackle some of the deficiencies in the Java enterprise arena. And, just as significantly there's also been a resurgence of interest in what are (very) loosely known as scripting languages, particularly Ruby. Similarly, interest in Ajax is extremely high in the Java community for some of the same reasons.

In POJOs in Action, Chris Richardson reprises all of these developments and shows how these new frameworks solve particular problems. POJOs (Plain Old Java Objects) is a term that was popularised by Martin Fowler (he of Refactoring fame), Rebbecca Parsons and Josh MacKenzie as a way of putting a fancy name on the practice of using regular Java objects rather than encapsulating business logic in Enterprise JavaBeans.

Part one of the book starts with a quick history lesson, outlines the major problems that enterprise applications have to solve (object relational mapping, data access, transactions, concurrency etc), and then looks at how these have been addressed using EJB 2.x. The POJO based alternatives are briefly outlined, along with a preview of EJB 3.0, which is considered to be a step in the right direction in that it is much more POJO-centric than its predecessor.

Part two goes into much more detail, and presents a series of design patterns for tackling things like object relational mapping, the encapsulation of business logic, and so on. Hibernate and JDO are used extensively, and a number of complex and realistic examples are developed to illustrate how to use them effectively.

While the book is heavy with source code, the writing goes into detail of the design process so that it's clear what the solutions are trying to do and why. Discussion of the pros and cons of Hibernate vs JDO vs EJB 3.0 is not neglected.

On the database transaction side of things there's discussion of JDBC and how iBatis and Spring can be used to implement the transaction script pattern in part three of the book. This section also looks in more detail at EJB 3.0 and shows how POJOs can be used with this to win back some of the benefits of "regular" Java development.

On the whole, the book is well written and provides solid technical advice. Richardson is a confident author, and he's well known within the Java enterprise community. No book on enterprise Java is easy reading, but for anyone seriously wanting to catch up with the current state of play this provides both an excellent over-view and some detailed hands-on examples.

POJOs In Action

Verdict: Excellent overview of enterprise Java

Author: Chris Richardson

Publisher: Manning Publications

ISBN: 1932394583

Media: Book

List Price: £31.99

Reg price: £25.59 (saving 20 per cent)

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