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Jess In Action by Ernest Friedman-Hill

Book Review Team
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<pre>Author/s : Ernest Friedman-Hill
Publisher : Manning
Category : Miscellaneous Java
Review by : Thomas Paul
Rating : 9 horseshoes
</pre>
This book is not about rules engines, although it does have a brief introduction to rules engines. This book is about Jess, a rule-based system written in Java. If you are interested in learning what kind of problems Jess can be used to solve and how to use Jess to solve these problems then this book will answer your questions.
The book is divided into two sections. The first section is a tutorial on Jess. This section covers the Jess syntax and demonstrates how to write rules for Jess. The tutorial is clearly written with some simple examples that do a good job of helping to make Jess understandable. The tutorial even shows how to do some optimizations for rules.
The rest of the book covers some fairly complicated applications written using Jess. The author refers to this section as a cookbook and the examples are complex enough and explained so well that it could easily serve this purpose. The best part of this section is that it will help someone who isn't familiar with rules engines develop ideas about how they might implement a rules engine to solve their own business requirements. The examples themselves cover integrating Jess with Java both in typical client based applications and J2EE web based applications.
If you are interested in using Jess as a possible solution to your business needs then this book is a virtual necessity. I couldn't imagine trying to use Jess without this book.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
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  34

Thanks for the review! The Pittsburgh Java User's Group published their own review today that I'm quite pleased with.


[Jess in Action][AskingGoodQuestions]
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
Thanks for the review!
So I assume that I will receive the check within the next 10 days?


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Admit it, you just wanted to keep this thread up!
--------------------
"I have socks older than you!"
Ernest Friedman-Hill


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

Map --
Love your sig!
(There, this thread is STILL on top...)
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
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Originally posted by Book Review Team:
This book is not about rules engines, although it does have a brief introduction to rules engines. This book is about Jess, a rule-based system written in Java. If you are interested in learning what kind of problems Jess can be used to solve and how to use Jess to solve these problems then this book will answer your questions.
[/QB]

Am I the only one who is dense here?
How can I know if I am interested in learning what kind of problems that Jess can be used to solve, if I have no CLUE as to what kind of problems that Jess can solve?
Jess is a rules based system written in Java that . . . . WHAT?


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Book Review Team
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<pre>
Review by : Michael Ernest
Rating : 9 horseshoes

</pre>
I first came across Jess in the late 90's, rummaging around the net. I could use the tools after a little work, but most of the comments and insights surrounding Jess seemed expert-driven, and I backed off the idea of using Jess to teach for the lack of material helpful to a beginner.
Jess in Action changes all that. It's a clean, well-written book. From my view anyone with some Java experience and some programming background could learn Jess and use it for complex projects by using this book. I found the principles of rules-based programming well laid-out, the examples engaging, and the flow very comfortable.
I found some very minor flaws in the presentation -- some forward references, a style that slips into jargon now and then -- but on the whole the book is useful. You'll read it more than once, if you grasp the power of the tool that's been put in your hands.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

Glad you enjoyed it, Michael!
Al Newman
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Originally posted by Cindy Glass:

Am I the only one who is dense here?
How can I know if I am interested in learning what kind of problems that Jess can be used to solve, if I have no CLUE as to what kind of problems that Jess can solve?
Jess is a rules based system written in Java that . . . . WHAT?

No, Cindy, you aren't the only confused one here. I am also. Having not done a MSCS, I'm not particularly familiar with what a 'rules-based system' is supposed to do. Can anyone post a link to an explanation?


SCJP1.4, SCWCD
Thomas Paul
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Obviously you are intewrested in finding out what kind of problems Jess can solve since you have asked the question! So go buy the book!
Here is an article about rule engines:
http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/05/16/20OPstrategic_1.html
Al Newman
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Posts: 716
Ach, Prolog! That way lies madness......
I took a night course in AI in the late 80's at NYU Continuing Education, and never grokked Prolog. It struck me as something out of the The Call of Cthulu series, where a scholar digs too far into books of ancient lore and winds up white-haired and catatonic in a single night from an encounter with the Elder Gods....
I never tried Turbo Prolog. Our instructor implied that Turbo Prolog wasn't the real thing. Because it was compiled rather than interpreted, I think. In a 20 year career I think I've actually seen Prolog used once in a small corner of a project.
I wonder how well Jess fits in with xP and automatic testing? ;-)
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

Jess itself is developed using an "XP-for-one" methodology and TDD. "Jess in Action" discusses testing each of the example rule-based applications as they are developed in a test-as-you-go mode. And Appendix C presents an automated functional-testing framework for testing Jess applications. I use JUnit for unit-testing Jess and this self-same framework for functional-testing Jess.
So the answer is "very well!"
[ November 06, 2003: Message edited by: Ernest Friedman-Hill ]
Al Newman
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What I was getting at was a comment in the link Thomas Paul provided
(which is congruent with my own experience) that even a simple rule-based system exhibits complex and unpredictable behavior.
It makes me wonder how one writes a sufficiently exhaustive test suite?....
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

That's basically FUD, if well-intentioned FUD. Rule-based programs are no more "complex and unpredictable" than any other sort of program which implements equivalent functionality. In fact, the point is that in many situations, the rule-based program will be simpler than an equivalent procedural program.
How do you test? Same as you test any other program. You enumerate all the representative cases you can reasonably describe, and you test them.
 
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