- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (May 26, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0596102356
- ISBN-13: 978-0596102357
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 40 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Building Scalable Web Sites: Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications 1st Edition
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"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
Building, Scaling, and Optimizing the Next Generation of Web Applications
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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. Indeed they are all very important topics (for the web builder and your new manager to know), but as a builder (if you've gone past the first "hello world" website) you should really know that you'll be using a database and writing web app code and using html and css. You should already know that in order to run a website, you'll need to run it on a computer which takes up space and power and needs to be networked. It's good to know that dedicated/colo hosting exists, but no need to write so much about it.
It's almost like a book titled, "Building huge skyscrapers" and then goes on to say you are going to need construction equipment, concrete and steel. You'd hope the person interested in that book has already built houses or commercial buildings and has used construction equipment and concrete and steel already. I'm probably being too harsh here, but that's the jist of it.
My "favorite" chapter is 3, "Development Environments". Use source control, have a good build system, track bugs. Those are very good rules, but to have 19 pages on source control AND 3 of those pages on RCS/CVS, it's like, "Are you kidding me? Isn't this book about building scalable websites?". Nowadays people probably have never even heard of RCS... (the book is a bit dated though).
Chapter 9, Scaling Web Applications has some stuff about load balancing and database replication/master-slave info, but after reading the chapter, you still won't have the first clue of what load balancing system to use or how to setup database replication or clustering... but you'll know that load balancing and database replications exists and know a little about them.
The actual best chapter is chapter 10, Statics, Monitoring and Alerting, there is information there that is useful. For your own sake though, look at the Nagios, Zabbix, etc monitoring packages and that'll get you started in the right direction.
For the reviews which say this book is technical, I couldn't disagree more, if it was actually technical I wouldn't be so annoyed with this book. If it was technical, then you'd know HOW to do something after reading it...
In conclusion, I think it's a good overview on the topics involved, but it's not really about building anything, it's about some topics you need to know that are involved with building a scalable website.
The introduction chapter started off quite dry, as the author attempted to introduce "What is a Web Application", a step probably not necessary for this volume's intended audience.
The second chapter opened right up however. Henderson's analogy of a trifle to describe Architecture was genius, with your sponge base all the way to your garnish of sprinkles on top. I went racing into the third chapter, exited about the prospects of Source Control ( a problem with our current environment, and one I only see getting worse).
Unfortunately, the book slowed right back down again, dragging through too long segments on Release Management, Issue Management Strategies, and the like. I took longer and longer breaks to come back to this section, almost leaving the book to the side here.
The book continued in this fashion, some bits of great insight and interest, but scattered with wordy, heavy sections that seemed to strangle the pace. As a Higher Education Programmer, Unicode was completely irrelevant to my projects, but the section on Canonical Holes brought me right back in again.
SQL Injections kept me reading right along, but a whole chapter on email in your web application had me drifting again. In summary, Henderson goes into great detail where you need it in some great areas on Scalability, but I'd not read it straight. Find the chapters that relate to your project or your goal, and you'll find a great resource.
The index is great for this purpose, with well thought out keywords that I've already found myself referencing even though I've just only finished the book. The lean of the volume is pretty heavily LAMP, with several Linux/Unix only references and software leads, which would be great for some audiences, but in our ColdFusion/IIS environment, I found myself searching for a tool that was described in the book only to realize that it didn't support Windows Servers.
It also focused heavily on scaling up to millions of users, and I think many system administrators would be more interested in a quicker, dirtier look at taking their dozens to hundreds of users into the thousands and tens of thousands of users instead. Preparing that heavily for growth at these early stages would slow production much too far, in my opinion.
And enjoy the trifle analogy. Mmm...trifle.