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Building Scalable Web Sites: Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications [Paperback]

by Cal Henderson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 23, 2006 0596102356 978-0596102357 1

Learn the tricks of the trade so you can build and architect applications that scale quickly--without all the high-priced headaches and service-level agreements associated with enterprise app servers and proprietary programming and database products. Culled from the experience of the Flickr.com lead developer, Building Scalable Web Sites offers techniques for creating fast sites that your visitors will find a pleasure to use.

Creating popular sites requires much more than fast hardware with lots of memory and hard drive space. It requires thinking about how to grow over time, how to make the same resources accessible to audiences with different expectations, and how to have a team of developers work on a site without creating new problems for visitors and for each other.

Presenting information to visitors from all over the world

Integrating email with your web applications

Planning hardware purchases and hosting options to have as much as you need without breaking your wallet

Partitioning and distributing databases to support large datasets and simultaneous transactions

Monitoring your applications to find and clear bottlenecks

* Providing services APIs and using services from other providers to increase your site's reach and capabilities

Whether you're starting a small web site with hopes of growing big or you already have a large system that needs maintenance, you'll find Building Scalable Web Sites to be a library of ideas for making things work.


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Building Scalable Web Sites: Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications + High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers + Even Faster Web Sites: Performance Best Practices for Web Developers
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What this book gives, possibly uniquely, is both a look at the whole spectrum of building a service and some details of all the major stages. It's ideal to give to someone who has a tight focus or experience on a particular area, e.g. writing lines and lines of PHP code which kills the database or filer because the author has little appreciation of what happens at other levels of the system structure. This book would make an ideal guide to people who need to be given some indications of the world beyond a small area. It's also a good read for those who build web sites which may potentially get a large volume of traffic to learn from flickr and why they made the decisions they made." - Sam Smith, news@UK, September 2006

Book Description

Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (May 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596102356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596102357
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cal Henderson has been a web applications developer for far too long and should really start looking for a serious job.

Originally from England, Cal is the VP of Engineering for Tiny Speck. Until recently he worked at Yahoo! Inc, as the Director of Engineering for Flickr, in San Francisco, California. He worked on Flickr from the day it started development (on his laptop) until April 2009 (when it was the "Official website of the Internet").

Before Flickr, he was the technical director of Special Web Projects at Emap, a UK media company. By night he works for a whole slew of web sites and communities, including the creative community B3TA and his personal site, iamcal. In his spare time, he writes windows software, develops web publishing tools, and writes occasional articles about web application development and security.

He promises he's working on a second edition of Building Scalable Websites.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scalability -- A Hot Topic June 12, 2006
Format:Paperback
When I first starting working on Web application development teams, I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of skills and range of knowledge needed to drive the project through establishing the technical foundations; design, development and testing iterations; to final staged release. Lots of things got discussed in team meetings that I had barely a clue about. Not only do I wish I had this book *then,* I wish all members of my teams could have it *now.*

Cal Henderson has a wide background in the area and is lead developer for Flickr, the photo sharing site that has gained deserved popularity and is often mentioned as the quintessential Web 2.0 application.

The author does an excellent job of spreading out before you the whole process at a high enough level so the book can be valuable for managers, designers, and all sorts of people involved in putting out the final product.

His focus is on program design and design implementation issues, not programming as such. Code is not neglected. Many points regarding design implementation are made with code examples and solutions.

I find this book so personally valuable in grounding me in a complex process, I give it the highest Amazon rating even though I found aspects of the book's organization to be completely incomprehensible. This is a book about scalable Web sites and applications but the author does not define scalability nor does he deal with the broad Web issues (like the scaling myth) until 60% into the book! Chapter 9, titled "Scaling Web Applications" should have been much closer to the beginning since it was a high-level view with no code, as the other chapters.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For beginners or clueless managers April 10, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title should be "Overview Of Building Scalable Web Sites".

I give it 2 stars not because it is a bad book but because I was tricked into thinking it was going to be useful as a scalable website builder. What you should do is look at the table of contents and research those topics and not bother reading this book.

The book is more of an overview of the topics you need to consider when building scalable web sites. For example, if you are building a scalable website and the powers that be put someone who knows nothing about web sites in charge of managing you, this really is the perfect book to give to your new manager. Your new manager will get a clue, but your new manager won't know a thing about HOW to build anything, but will know ABOUT what is being built.

The thing that got me is the first 188 pages of the book, just doesn't seem all that useful. On page 1 there is a definition of "What Is a Web Application", I'd estimate a book like this should assume you know what it is (it even suggests you do know what it is), but probably should save space and not even bother writing about it.

Some sections and my summaries:
Layered Software Architecture - could summarize into: DB layer, app code, html, css on top
Layered Technologies - get appropriate book on actual topic such as DB book, and use a template language
Getting from A to B - separate program from markup, use a template system
Hardware Platforms - dedicated, co-located, self hosting, space/power consumption, networking

It took 26 pages to get through all of that.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish all software developers would read this August 20, 2006
Format:Paperback
Unfortunately, I'm finding that there are still some in the software industry--from "two guys in a garage" to the largest corporation--don't know, follow, or believe software best practices. Suddenly when something goes wrong (e.g. the wrong version of a file was deployed, changes can't be rolled back, the application won't scale), everyone scrambles in an effort to figure out what happened. Oftentimes, if simple software practices were followed, many of these issues would never surface.

This book does a tremendous job identifying many of these best practices, identifies how to easily implement them--in almost any situation, and discusses application scaling techniques. As the book mentions, scalability is made up of three characteristics:

* The application can accommodate an increase in users

* The application can accommodate an increase in data

* The application is maintainable

Like any good book on application scalability, this one begins discussing the tiered architecture that is common in so many modern applications, and is a fundamental step in creating any truly scalable application. This follows into a discussion on source control--another fundamental part of keeping the application maintainable.

The author briefly discusses security issues by touching on cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and the like. The discussion is well written and thorough for the amount of time spent on the topic.

Finally, the author discusses many of the issues related to deployment of web applications, including system monitoring and alerting. There is also an excellent section on load balancing, techniques to keep databases scalable, and caching.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful even in 2014
I loved this book. I think it's a must read. It introduces you to the major problems that you will face when scaling an application backend.
Published 1 month ago by MS
5.0 out of 5 stars great book for novices
The book is rather old, but it is still great for those who want understand the topic from scratch. Recommended
Published 4 months ago by Kourakob Aleksey
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't have much info in it
I was looking forward to reading very specific info but it turned out that the book is very general. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Alex
2.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended... and here's why!
Cal Henderson writes what many call the definitive book on scaling websites... but unfortunately that's all it is, a book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. Bourne
2.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Useless
This book should have been titled "Introduction To Building Web Sites in 2006". Only two chapters (8,9) have *any* relevance to scaling, and the tools they discuss are five years... Read more
Published on November 14, 2011 by Gustav Bertram
4.0 out of 5 stars More hardware than software
When I purchased this book I was looking for a resource that would give me some insights into architecting web applications, from the software side. Read more
Published on February 10, 2010 by Sardonicus
2.0 out of 5 stars covers a lot of important things, just left out building web sites
this book covers topics like version control software and network architecture, but it leaves out the actual building part. Read more
Published on January 13, 2010
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, overwhelming stuff
The book is getting a little dated, but most of what's in here still makes sense. I actually put it away after reading 50% of it because it keeps making me feel stressed about all... Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by User Guy
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Technical - Little Fluff Here
Typically when reading a technology book they fall into two categories.
They are over your head or too general. This book probably falls into the first category. Read more
Published on March 24, 2009 by Mark Ruzomberka
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a great book!
This was a great book! I highly recommend it! Have fun!
[..]
Merry Christmas!!!
Published on November 22, 2008 by M. Parker
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Is this a LAMP advocacy book?
If one wants to talk about 'next generation of web apps', would you use a proprietary example (no matter what it's benefits) that isn't easily (freely) available to everyone, and that is from a company with a history of rewriting it's world every few-several years (ask Visual Basic programmers... Read more
May 28, 2008 by Athaedrielle |  See all 2 posts
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