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Pragmatic Project Automation: How to Build, Deploy, and Monitor Java Apps

4.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0974514031
ISBN-10: 0974514039
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Clark is a consultant, author, speaker, and programmer. He helps teams build better software faster through his company, Clarkware Consulting, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Pragmatic Starter Kit (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: The Pragmatic Programmers (August 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974514039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974514031
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Bock on August 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you are doing any serious software development, then you have tasks that need to be automated. Your build process, unit tests, deployment, measurements of quality, and other metrics for project management can all be automated once, and then created over and over again, basically 'for free'. This is what computer do, right? So why not let them do it for software development?

Mike Clark does an excellent job describing both the 'high-level why' of project automation, as well as real-world 'low level' examples. He describes project automation with shell scripts, tools like Ant and CruiseControl, automation of routine tasks in CVS, and create automated 'status reports' with things like log4j and RSS feeds of data from your build report.

The day after reading this book, I had modified our automated build to send an email to my cell phone if it failed - along with the names of everyone who had commited a change since the last successful build. While not every project needs this level of paranoia, this kind of 'project safety net' gives us great confidence in the quality of our code.

It's hard to say what could be improved about this book - its biggest strength and its biggest weakness are its size... at 150 pages, I feel like there could have been so much more said on the subject... on the other hand, the books size makes it very approachable - you can pick it up, read it, learn something, and use it that same day. If the book were any larger, it would run the risk of trying to say too much, not saying it as clearly, and dating itself much more quickly.

This book (actually all three of the prag prog 'starter kit' are on our team bookshelf, and are considered part of our project's documentation.
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Format: Paperback
This little book could double your productivity by showing you how to make computers actually help you do your job. Do you spend too much time chasing configuration bugs, following checklists, and performing repetitive tasks that take time away from your coding and design duties? Then "Pragmatic Project Automation" is for you.

This isn't the kind of "software process" book that tries to sell you on following a methodology. There's no preaching, and there are no outlandish claims of productivity increases. Instead of selling snake oil, Mike Clark just wants to explain, in a clear, effective way, how to use open-source tools to automate your builds, release process, and application monitoring. Java tools like Ant, CruiseControl, and JUnit are the centerpieces of this book, but shell scripts and batch files also make cameo appearances.

There's even a section on assembling novel monitoring devices. Admit it -- wouldn't it be cool to have red and green Lava Lamps that light up according to the status of your project build?

The beginning programmer might wonder what all the fuss is about, but anyone tasked with delivering software on a schedule will appreciate the many ways in which this book will help them.
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Format: Paperback
Don't let its relatively small size (152 pages) fool you -- this book has more relevant content per page than I've seen in a technical book since, well, the last book I read from the Pragmatic Programmers ("Pragmatic Unit Testing", by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas). In fact, I believe this book's compactness to be one of its greatest features.

Mike Clark has done a masterful job of distilling the essence of the topic of automation and presenting it in a well-thought-out, easy-to-follow progression. He finds a natural starting point -- the build -- and takes us from a simple on-demand build using Ant, to scheduled builds using CruiseControl. At each step he shows us how we can safely relinquish control to an automated tool, buying time and increasing reliability.

Subsequent steps follow in natural progression -- from simple builds to automated, scheduled, and triggered builds. From building the software to assembling a release. Then on to deploying the release. And finally, monitoring the release once it's deployed.

Don't be fooled into thinking this book is just for server-side Java developers. That audience is certainly a main focus, and the book doesn't have room to be encyclopedic by any means. Even so, Mike does a great job of pointing out alternatives where they exist -- if there's a .NET equivalent of a tool, you'll find at least a mention of it, along with a URL where you can go to learn more. There are shell scripts of various flavors sprinkled throughout the book. There's even an example written in Ruby!

Mike has a gentle, relaxed writing style. He doesn't -- as too many other technical authors do these days -- try too hard to impress us with his knowledge; he just lays it out there.
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Format: Paperback
I've always been a tool-builder. When a solvable problem presents itself, I like to fix it with the simplest possible solution. This book--fun and interesting to read--is a wonderful collection of tips and tricks that will help you take simple everyday tools and do amazing things with them. By the time you are done reading it, not only will your builds be repeatable, but you'll have industrial strength monitoring and troubleshooting tools in place as well. Mike stays one step ahead of you and builds a compelling case for each tool as well as how to combine them. And, in the end, you might even end up with a couple of lava lamps out of the deal.
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