|Hibernate - A J2EE Developers Guide|
|pages||351 (13 page index)|
|reviewer||Simon P. Chappell|
|summary||Overall a solid work|
What's To Like
The first thing that I liked is the way the book is written. Mr. Iverson has a very pleasant writing style that I found engaging. Not too formal and not too light. Naturally, there is a certain amount of Hibernate evangelism, but hey, if the author doesn't like the tool, then how am I supposed to feel good about it either? The evangelism does not feel like it strays from the bounds of truth, and there is much honesty in his first and last chapters where he discusses reasons for using a tool like Hibernate, and how Hibernate has influenced the design of the soon-coming version 3 of the EJB standard from Sun.
Chapters two, three and four cover the basics of using Hibernate. Each covers a different aspect, and each is independent of the other. Chapter two covers the use of the Hibernate mapping file as the reference that everything else is built from. This is the recommended mode of operation, where the database schema and data access objects are built for you. Chapters three and four are for those of us in the corporate world where the code or the database schema comes first and we have to adapt to and accommodate it.
Chapters seven and nine give the database theory-challenged amongst us a useful refresher in database relationships and transactions. The information, while provided in the context of Hibernate, serves as a useful refresher for the rest of us.
Hibernate has three query mechanisms. Given its relational database capabilities, one of the options is the use of plain old SQL, naturally. The two remaining options are the Hibernate Query Language (HQL) and the Criteria API. The HQL gets a fairly decent amount of coverage and left me to infer that it is the preferred means of expressing queries. The Criteria API gets only four and a half pages of explanation, which is still more than the single page dedicated to SQL.
The next to last chapter is a collection of real-world advice and tips for getting the best from Hibernate. This is a very useful chapter and looks like it contains good advice. The only thing I would suggest is that it's a little slim for a chapter of its own. Either the information could have been tucked in an appendix, or it could have been spread through the book in the form of embedded tips.
Naturally, the book has a website to accompany it.
What's To Consider
The book carries a copyright date of 2005 and a first printing date of November 2004. That being said, it should come as no surprise that the version of Hibernate covered is 2.1.2, but at the writing of this review (early April 2005) Hibernate 3 went final. I feel that the majority of the concepts and basic operations will be unchanged, but take this into account when deciding upon a purchase. While it is difficult to write books against the constantly moving target of an open-source or free software project, it is possible. I was involved in the technical review of a number of Struts books and they were challenged with the task of being available as version 1.1 was released. A massive undertaking, but one that they proved doable.
The typesetting seems crowded in this book. I'm not a white-space extremist, but I sure recognise when there's too little. The listings are often multi-page and have a slightly squashed feel to them.
Depending upon your point of view, chapter five is either a very useful annotated explanation of all of the available mappings within Hibernate, or it's a bad case of using available online documentation as filler (53 pages). Personally, I dislike this, but if you're in the market for an "all-in-one" style of book, this might work for you.
This is a solid work that will take you from novice to a good working knowledge of Hibernate. If you can live with the fact that the book targets Hibernate 2.1.2 while the current production version available from the website is 3.0, then give this book a try.
You can purchase Hibernate - A J2EE Developers Guide from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.