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Spring Dynamic Modules In Action 63

RickJWagner writes "Every once in a while a technical book comes out that so exhaustively covers a topic that it becomes the definitive word on the topic. These books are the end-all reference, the final authority, the singular go-to reference that every practitioner falls back to in their hour of need. This book review covers one such book, the newly released Spring Dynamic Modules in Action from Manning." Read below for the rest of Rick's review.
Spring Dynamic Modules In Action
author Arnaud Cogoluegnes, Thierry Templier, Andy Piper
pages 548
publisher Manning Publications
rating 9/10
reviewer Rick J Wagner
ISBN 1935182307
summary Presents the fundamental concepts of OSGi-based apps and maps them to the familiar ideas of the Spring framework.
First, a quick word about OSGi. OSGi is a specification meant to make Java more "modular." In practice, this means it is an attempt to solve the age-old problem of "jar hell", including all the class loading issues that go with it. (Users of JEE application servers know what I'm talking about here.) OSGi lets you specify every external library your component needs, to the version. So if you need FooLib v1.2.3, and the application beside yours needs FooLib v10.9.8, that's not a problem at all-- both applications can happily run in the same OSGi container, at the same time.

Should you care about OSGi? The answer is maybe. It's without question a big deal to the makers of Java application containers-- everybody from JBoss to Mule has an opinion on OSGi, and many vendors are busy baking it into their infrastructure. What will differ to you, the user of the container, is how the container developers decided to make OSGi available to their users. This book is about how Spring went about it, and what you need to do to use Spring and OSGi together.

Spring DM (short for "Dynamic Modules") is a framework that enables you to use the popular Spring framework with OSGi. Spring, of course, comes with a multitude of components for solving all kinds of enterprise application needs. So this book is all about using Spring with OSGi.

It's a big book, over 500 pages, written by 3 authors. In those 500 pages you get lots of valuable content:
- An introduction to OSGi and an explanation of its purpose
- Explanation of how Spring can be used within an OSGi container, review of the currently available containers
- Details about how Spring DM works, and the parts you need to understand
- Details about OSGi services, and how they relate to Spring DM
- In depth best practices for data access, enterprise Java projects, and web applications (includes specific advice for popular web application frameworks)
- Testing practices
- Extended uses of OSGi, including likely future direction

A big part of what makes this book valuable are the many pieces of advice from the authors as they explain best practices for using various tools. So you want to use Eclipse, Ant or Maven? No problem, these are all covered. About to use MyFaces, Wicket, or DWR? All covered. Are you a Tomcat user or Jetty? Check and check. I'm sure you get the picture-- if you use these tools, the path ahead of you is already blazed and you can avoid some headaches by leveraging the author's experience.

Make no mistake about it, there will be some headaches ahead of you. Seldom is an application written today that doesn't use an external framework or library of some sort. Using these pre-packaged bits of functionality (and we need to be thankful for them!) might mean 're-packaging', if the library isn't offered as an OSGi bundle. This re-packaging means pealing apart some .jar files and editing the manifest files inside-- yuck! Luckily, this book offers you two things to help you with this task: tooling and advice. Tooling comes in handy because it can automate a lot of the manual, error-prone drudgery that goes along with such a task. Advice is even more valuable-- these authors have already worked done the hard work and have written down what you need to do to make your efforts successful.

So who is this book appropriate for? I'd say anyone who is going to use Spring DM. If you're convinced this is the right framework for your needs, you need a copy of this book. If you're not sure, or if you're just a casual reader wanting to know more about OSGi-- then I'd say you should look through the book first before you buy it. You might like it, or you might not because a lot of the book is all about hands-on use of Spring DM and the little tricks you need to make it work right the first time. But if you're just interested in an overview of the technology, this book might be too detail-oriented and not enough high-level for your tastes.

If you use Spring DM, you need to buy a copy of this book. It's going to be the definitive resource on the topic for a long time.

You can purchase Spring Dynamic Modules In Action from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.


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Spring Dynamic Modules In Action

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  • Drat! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:38PM (#34335718) Homepage Journal

    And I really hoped for an ultimate guide to building spring-loaded mechanical toys and devices in a modular way.
    Building complex mechanisms that don't use electricity seems to be a dying art and we could really use some modern reference...

  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:45PM (#34335794)

    Looking at the cover of the book, I might think that this is some kind of book about Russian opera. I mean, really, we're talking modern technology here, and then there's this guy that looks like he belongs in 1892 staring at me with his big cutlass, as if to say "Buy this book, american swine, or your code will remain twisted and unoptimized forever, buwha ha ha ha haaaaaa."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iluvcapra ( 782887 )
      The Manning technical books always have someone in an elaborate local costume on the cover. Their Ruby on Rails book has a Turkish bey with an elaborate fan hat, for example.
      • The Manning technical books always have someone in an elaborate local costume on the cover. Their Ruby on Rails book has a Turkish bey with an elaborate fan hat, for example.

        That would be almost forgivable if their typography wasn't so atrocious, furthering my belief that the cover designer was a lobotomized flatworm. Look at the typography treatment -- The casual reader might interpret it as "Spring Dynam Module". The designer of this took gestalt theory out back, pissed on it, rolled it through the mud, and then dropped it in the rubbish pile. About the only thing this guy got right was not using Comic Sans Serif as the typeface.

        • About the only thing this guy got right was not using Comic Sans Serif as the typeface.

          I hear they're saving that for the second edition.

    • I was expecting a treatise on Prussian cavalry tactics and their use in battles up-to-but-not-including Waterloo. Written in part by Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (with foreword by Tom Clancy).

    • In Soviet Russia, Java compiles you!
  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @03:47PM (#34335818) Journal

    You know the type:

    The author hires someone to review his book, and of course the review will be extremely positive. Like that guy did for his "Second Principia" textbook which was really a pile of trash written by a nomad.

  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:07PM (#34336042) Homepage

    Yo dawg, I haerd you like frameworks.

    So I made a framework for your frameworks so you can code while you...learn another framework.

    • As a Java developer i have to say friends don't let friends use Spring. Anything so branded will

      - introduce a bucketload of complexity
      - lack sufficient documentation for the latest version, leaving you trawling Internet boards or scrambling to have a Spring consultant or trainer come and visit so you can configure or customise your application
      - require you to jump through hoops to implement basic features that are commonly requested but not catered for by default
      - change significantly leaving you to rework

  • OSGi is great (Score:4, Informative)

    by A.K.A_Magnet ( 860822 ) on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @04:41PM (#34336422) Homepage
    OSGi and DI frameworks such as Google Guice are giving Java a new life. Of course 95% of Slashdot is stuck using Perl but thanks for your review (in fact I'm mostly replying here to compensate with the retarded posts). Sprint DM have been standardized in OSGi and renamed "OSGi Blueprint Services" and while I've not used them (because Declarative Services were enough for my needs and I never was a Spring user), I plan on checking them soon. A lot of people are using Spring and this is the way to get them interested in OSGi.

    By the way, another great (but free/creative commons) book on OSGi is Neil Bartlett's "OSGi in Practice". I can't recommend it enough. Unfortunately, it's still in draft so some parts are not completed, but I learnt more about OSGi reading this book than any other resource I could find (printed or online), except maybe looking at the frameworks' code directly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by durdur ( 252098 )

      Quite the contrary, IMO. After having had considerable recent experience with it, and before that, having had extensive knowledge of older enterprise Java technologies (EJB, Servlets), I think the benefits of OSGi are mostly illusory, while the costs are real and substantial. There are theoretical benefits in terms of flexibility and modularity, which are good things, but these benefits can be realized in other and simpler ways. The costs come in the form of complexity - especially dependency management and

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I do agree there's a problem with legacy Java code that makes use of features that are hardly reconcilable with OSGi. I think most of those libs that don't get along well with OSGi are doing something wrong, but sometimes they're trying to be too smart ;). Incompatible legacy code is pretty much the only reason one should run classloader issues, because frankly I find OSGi makes things easier here (especially if you generate your manifest with bnd, which avoids most of the mistakes). One way or another, I a
        • by durdur ( 252098 )

          Just ask if your benefits exceed the cost. If you are spending time fixing your manifests, tracking down why dynamic class loading is broken, integrating legacy code, or the like, then you're not adding features or value to your end software product. You are just burning cycles that your framework and app server are making you burn.

          • We have had different experiences. When I started using it, I definitely struggled many times with OSGi (or more like setting up some containers for my specific needs), but not any more than I did with any other 'advanced' framework (including JEE). But on the (full-OSGi) project I'm working on, OSGi is not costing us anything. We're doing agile development (Scrum) and we're very much feature driven. If we were wasting too much time fighting against OSGi, I'd totally agree with you. But we're not. And our t
    • by butlerm ( 3112 )

      Of course 95% of Slashdot is stuck using Perl

      Make up things a lot? The number of new web applications of any significance written using Perl has probably been minimal to non-existent for about a decade now.

  • What am I missing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eison ( 56778 ) <> on Wednesday November 24, 2010 @05:02PM (#34336632) Homepage

    From the article summary, this is a *500* page book on the topic of using an app framework with a packaging system.
    How can that topic take 500 pages? It sounds like it should be a 2 page FAQ? What does a packaging system change so much that it needs 498 more pages?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RichMan ( 8097 )

      And if the app framework and packaging system really need 500 pages to describe how to use do you really want to use them?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PJ6 ( 1151747 )

      It has been my experience that frameworks such as these frequently make trivial exercises nontrivial, for the sake of implementing an idea or serving a need in a way that most would call ill-conceived, bloated, far out of the realm of sanity. How much information in this book would anyone call timeless truth? How much is instead incidental complexity, gotchas, meaningless detail, and syntax of usage? In software, beware the pursuit of an academic objective for its own sake without any regard to practicality

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Presumable it goes into theory and value of the concept, not just a how to get it running.
      I haven' reed it, so for all I know it has 60 blank pages to write down what to wish for.

  • by secondsun ( 195377 ) <> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @03:15PM (#34344436) Journal

    I happen to be someone who actually likes Spring. A few months ago, I was asked to do a proof of concept project; it was basically a event organizing system with a plug-in architecture.

    A little google fu later and I found out Eclipse used OSGi for its plug in systems, Netbeans was going to support OSGi for their plugins, and Spring had an OSGi container solution called Spring DM AND Manning had this book in MEAP. I downloaded the earliest copy, ran through the "Hello World!"s and was on my way.

    Then I actually had to implement OSGi. Packages wouldn't load, they would load in the wrong order, jars weren't OSGi aware, etc etc etc. After two weeks of long nights of frustration I gave up. The next morning I wrote a classloader and was up and running in about 2 hours.

    To add insult to injury, SpringSource gave Spring DM to the Eclipse foundation and washed their hands of future development.

    TL;DR; If you want to use OSGi + Spring DM: Don't, Spring gave DM to Eclipse and OSGi is a shitstorm waiting to rain itself out. Write your own classloader and in two hours and 200 lines of Java you will have 80% of OSGi and 99% of what you care about.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend