Thanks for writing a book about this topic. Although I needed such a book 7 years ago when I started my adventure with Websphere and Java. It´s great that finally someone did it. Congratulation! Newbies in the topic should be happy ;).
Thank you very much for writing this book. The subject seems very interesting. At work we developed and maintain a Java application that run on web technology. We use another application server for deployment, however it could be informative to learn about websphere and its potentials.
I posted replies to the individual posts so I won't duplicate that info here.
One thing I should explain is that I'm not advocating WebSphere over other technologies. I came to use it because it has a comprehensive package of tools for java development. When I first started doing java training I used Eclipse (well actually, at first, it was notepad) and TomCat. As I got more into server side development I found I was searching for plugins to do things that RAD and WAS came with. Since then I haven't kept up with all the other options and their performance vs. WebSphere. Sorry I can't help you all there.
Since this is a beginners book I don't go into how the tools work rather I explain how to use them. So minimal performance, monitoring, server configuration options, etc. Of course, options within RAD to make the programmer's job easier are covered.
Your pain using the IBM products and the support documentation is not only acknowledged but deeply felt - I've got a lot of scars myself. But that's one of the reasons for the books step by step format.
I hope I answered all your questions. If not, just let me know.