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Mastering JSP Custom Tags and Tag Libraries by James Goodwill

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Author/s : James Goodwill
Publisher : John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Category : J2EE and Distributed Computing
Review by : Junilu Lacar
Rating : 6 horseshoes

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<review>
Despite its title, only five (out of twenty-eight) chapters of this book actually discuss the details of writing custom JSP tag libraries. The first four chapters go over setting up Tomcat 4.0 and the basics of servlets and JSPs. The remaining chapters are really more of a desktop reference covering the Jakarta Taglibs project and the JSP Standard Tag Library (JSTL) using the "In a Nutshell" format. There are numerous examples but most are short and very similar to those you'll find in the online documentation. Since Taglibs and JSTL are constantly evolving, the reference material will quickly become outdated--some of it already is.

The discussion on writing custom tag libraries is fairly comprehensive but I didn't care for the organization of the topics. I prefer a "cookbook" type approach when learning these things but the book had me jumping from one section to another, skipping ahead to find details and then backtracking to the examples. There are also a number of typos and errors in the text that might confuse the unwary novice. One example instructs you to put a JAR and its TLD in the WEB-INF/lib directory whereas the web.xml specifies "WEB-INF" which makes Tomcat unable to start the web application. This had me cursing Tomcat for a while until a colleague suggested I look in the log files.

If you prefer "Nutshell"-type books to online references, you might find this book useful for a while.
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