This book's approachability is a major strength. Sure, there's plenty of useful expertise on display here, but the author doesn't get bogged down in too much detail. After showing off the fundamentals of servlets and JSPs, including basic syntax, this book uses simple and effective examples that show off these APIs at work. Several versions of a chat application are used to show off different strategies for maintaining "state" within JSPs using hidden form variables, cookies, and the JSP session object. (The same code gets enhanced with sockets and RMI later in the book.) This comparative approach is useful for seeing the advantages and differences of each programming strategy.
This title also delves into APIs that are essential for Web developers today. There's an excellent introduction to XML here, plus a chapter on JDBC for database programming. In a standout section on getting JSPs and Perl scripts to work together, the author shows how JSP code can invoke Perl scripts and retrieve their results. The book closes with a comprehensible example on JSP tag libraries, and how to use servlets and applets together, as well as a truly useful listing of all of the relevant servlet and JSP APIs in an appendix. There's even a glossary to help demystify key terms for the beginning JSP developer.
In all, besides providing a capable tutorial to the basics, this title offers good coverage on related Java-base Web development APIs and techniques that'll help make you more productive in the field. Java Developer's Guide to Servlets and JSP is a smart and thoroughly approachable choice for getting started with servlets and JSP development. --Richard Dragan