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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
It is a good book but to get the J2EE 5 Web Component Developer certificate you must use other resources. Nevertheless, I would say that I learned a lot reading this book and it wouldn't be fair to grade it with 4 stars. I recommend this book for people who don't know nothing about web development using Java. However, if you want to be an expert you should read other books for complementing the knowledge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2008
The recently released edition of the book is a great improvement - there is less errata and the Q&A is much more tied into the Sun Web Component Exam.

One of the challenges with picking up Servlets & JSPs is the mass of acronyms and figuring out how it all relates to Java. The Head First book is here to help pick-up the technology as fast as possible and in a fun way.

This book has some of the best tutorials to get from zero to a working web application - and have fun learning along the way. Many readers will probably also want to use the book to cram for Sun's web component exam.

I would highly recommend the book but please do your due diligence: Have a look at the content section. Evaluate if the contents cover what you hope to learn. Read through some of the sample pages and make a decision.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2009
The subtitle should be the title of this book. The book is 879 pages; the material could be covered in about 150. In several instances the authors state a topic isn't covered on the exam so it isn't covered in the book. Each chapter contains "Sharpen your pencil" and "Coffee Cram" exam type pages; The exams contain one copy of each page with the questions, and a duplicate page with the answers.

Only the core JSTL is covered. Formatting, SQL, and XML JSTL are mentioned; but only to inform the reader they are not covered on the exam.

No mention of using Servlets and JSP to create a database driven application. As a matter of fact, they don't really mention or give examples of any large applications. It's not on the exam.

The book contains plenty of whitespace and is well written if you enjoy a little levity with your learning. It's a shame the authors selected such a narrow topic.

After you finish the exam, you might as well sell the book. It's a terrible reference (remember each page of mock exam takes up 2 pages: 1 for the exam, 1 for the answers).

The signal to noise ratio of this book is too low to be useful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2012
Okay - I buy a LOT things on Amazon - to include books. I recently started reviving my Java skills which have been getting a bit rusty and decided to go after a couple of certifications. I happened across the "Head First" series after reading the reviews.

As of today (May 10, 2012) I am two days into Servlets and JSP, currently on page 101 and I can say that the approach to learing that they take in this book works EXTREMELY well for me. The discussions are thorough, complete, and give me everything that I need to know to fully understand MVC (the right and wrong ways to approach MVC within web development - which I found extremely enlightening and fun!), and the programming drills really help to drive home the points.

With all that said - I am personally extremely impressed - enough so that I took a few minutes out of today's session to write this Amazon review (which I seldom do).

FYI - I am a long time developer turned manager, with little web development experience. So, take me comments above with that in mind. I dont think that a seasoned Java/HTML/JSP developer looking to bone up for the certification would find this the "right book."

I like this book so much, I will likely stick with the "Head First" series in the future.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2008
I used Kathy Sierra's "Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide" to pass both of those certification exams with flying colors. Although the overly jokey format of that book was more cringe-worthy than engrossing, the book contained solid information and was somewhat easy to review, reference, and study with.

I already have a solid working knowledge of servlets and JSPs, so I wanted to find a book that was geared only for certification. I was very hesitant about purchasing this SCWCD book after seeing that it followed the useless Head First approach to teaching, but hoped that the actual information in the book would outweigh the shortcomings. I read the entire book, and took every practice exam but still came away thoroughly disappointed.

PROS:
- The authors are also involved in writing the actual exam, so they have solid observations about the specific types of questions you will see, and offer tips on areas requiring memorization, as well as possible trick questions.

CONS:
- The book tries to be both a "learn servlets and JSP" text and a "prepare for certification" text. These objectives are completely at odds with each other, and the book loses focus when trying to fulfill both. The certification thrust will confuse new developers just learning JSPs, and the learning thrust is extra fluff to wade through for the cert-minded (900 pages of fluff at that).
- Even at 900 pages, the book is not a comprehensive certification source. There were several instances where I encountered mock exam questions that had not been discussed in the text. Instead, the answer key referred me to the Sun specifications (free online). For example, the text devotes 2 pages to RequestDispatchers, and then poses 2 mock questions about query strings that aren't even covered. Later, the book provides a list of the commonly used ServletRequest methods along with the note "// MANY more methods". Of course, one of these unlisted methods is the answer to a mock question at the end of the book.
- There is no way to quickly review the contents of each chapter. I don't necessarily need a reference book, but the Head First approach takes you on several paths through related information, but doesn't step back and show you all the information at once. Some sub-chapters have bullet lists, but this is not consistent throughout.
- The humor is only funny in a "look at me, I'm funny!" way. Tech books can use subtle humor effectively (see Russ Olsen's "Design Patterns in Ruby") but the humor here really turned me off.
- The Head First approach adds a lot of fat that could have been trimmed. For example, the book takes you through 13 pages of examples on dynamic tag attributes before informing you that the approach is tedious and incorrect (the last page tells you to use the built-in DynamicAttributes interface instead).
- Typos abound, not all of which are in the published errata. Particularly egregious were the mock questions with completely wrong answers. The online errata showed nothing wrong, but loading the online copy of the book on the Safari O'Reilly site showed the answers magically correct. Another multiple choice question doesn't even have the options listed.
- For me, the Head First approach to teaching (visual learning, conversational style, keeping the reader's attention, and touching the reader's emotions) fails completely. Your mileage may vary, but a clear, concise lesson on these topics would have been much more effective than endless pages of bad cartoons and captioned kung fu movie screen caps.

As a comparison, I also read "Professional SCWCD Certification" by Jepp and Dalton. This book was perfect -- concise, easy to consult and review, and covering everything in a tome just 1/3 the size of the Head First book. Unfortunately, it covers an older edition of the SCWCD and does not cover SimpleTags, EL, or Tag files (the Filters section is smaller too). If they ever release a new edition, I'd recommend it with 5 stars in an instant.

Bottom Line: The fact that the authors of this book can give you an "inside look" at the style of the actual exam is all that keeps this book afloat as a certification text. Unfortunately, there aren't many other options that cover the most recent iteration of the exam. I got an 89% on the exam, but I equate this more to the free materials on JavaRanch and my pre-existing knowledge than this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2012
I have read all the chapters in this book and find myself referring to the book often. IMO, it is the best book in market to learn servlets, JSP, JSTL, custom tags, filters and some introductory MVC. A lot of effort has gone into this book to make the concepts stick to your brain, so it is not a dry monologue like Core Servlets and Javaserver Pages: Core Technologies, Vol. 1 (2nd Edition).

I understand that the authors wanted to capture the widest audience and wanted you to understand the basics well, which is why they did not use any IDE like eclipse. But an IDE is what people use in "real life", so a chapter at the end on how to develop a small MVC application with eclipse (or another IDE) would have been really useful!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2008
Head First Servlets and JSP: Passing the Sun Certified Web Component Developer Exam (Brain-Friendly Guides)

Great introductory book into Servlets and JSPs. The authors didn't assume the reader knew much about web applications or what goes on in the background. With 1 year of Java knowledge/experience, I found this book easy to follow with the way it explained how things worked step by step, and by effectively using excellent diagrams and examples.

I bought this book to learn about Servlets and JSPs, not necessarily to take the certification exam; and as such I would recommend this book to anyone who has little or no knowledge of servlets and JSPs, and wants to dive into the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2011
I'll be honest. I mocked my colleague for getting this book, being a fan of the Stroustrup style of programming books. A few months later I had to get up and running with JSP/Servlets and this book was a boon. This is not a bible for JSP/Servlet. What its really good for is if you want to get up and running really fast. I highly recommend this book for good programmers who have Java experience but have not done JSP/Servlets etc. Its got a funky way of presenting information but after a while you learn to digest content really fast because of the style of presentation. Crucial concepts and rules of thumb are highlighted very well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2009
The writing style in this book makes it a joy to read. The book doesn't dive into complex Java frameworks and stays on topic pretty much, focusing on JSP. I think even if someone is not taking the Sun certification exam, it does a pretty good job introducing the different technologies in a very logical and evolutionary way by asking questions, giving lots of visual examples etc. If you are looking for a reference or a solution cookbook, this is not the one, but it does bring balance...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2013
I'm starting to build java apps for the web. at first I had to search the web for every doubt, and use the trial-and-error methodology to get things to work out. Again Head First comes to the rescue! fun chats, interesting graphics, and lots of fun thing to do while you learn. besides, now I have a tool to help me get past the cert exam, which I didn't have in mind. Definately a great added value!
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