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Tapestry In Action by Howard M. Lewis Ship

Book Review Team
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<pre>Author/s : Howard M. Lewis Ship
Publisher : Manning
Category : J2EE
Review by : Gregg Bolinger
Rating : 5 horseshoes
</pre>
About the best thing Tapestry in Action has going for it is the fact that it is really the only book solely on Tapestry.
This book spends a lot of time talking about why Tapestry is so good in Chapter 1 and then fails to prove it throughout the rest of the book.
Starting off on the wrong foot, in my opinion, is the first example app in chapter 2. A hangman game which is so unlike any practicle web application anyone would ever make.
The book does then go into an example login form but fails to complete the example before going into detail about each html component.
The middle chapters, 6-9, are the meat of the book and provide some good "under the hood" about Tapestry but they just don't mesh well with the beginning and ending of the book.
There is very little "Action" in Tapestry in Action. I would say, if you want to learn how Tapestry works, buy this book. If you want to learn how to make Tapestry work for you wait for another book.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
Erik Hatcher
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I wholeheartedly disagree with Gregg's luke-warm review of Tapestry in Action. The book covers all the major aspects of Tapestry in very gory detail. I learned much of what I know about Tapestry from early versions of Howard's manuscript and continue to pick up tidbits of information that I'm still missing (I'm a Tapestry committer now) by re-reading sections.
If you want to use a web framework that doesn't suck, Tapestry is the one. The online resources are outstanding for Tapestry, but a book really says a lot about the maturity of a framework. In fact Tapestry is a truly outstanding framework, and Howard's book does a wonderful job explaining it in his book.
Tapestry is not a framework that can be picked up easily if your only web development experience is CGI, ASP, Servlets/JSP, or Struts. Tapestry is "easy" when you throw away preconceptions and lingering ideas of how things should be done. Once the mindset has shifted, Tapestry becomes obvious and we wonder why we have not been building web applications like this all along (well, some of us were with WebObjects). Given this necessary leap, it may require reading and re-reading parts of Tapestry in Action. But, reading is only part of it.... download the source and tinker with it, and build something with it. Only then can you truly understand.


Co-author of Lucene in Action
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Erik, I respect your opinion. And I appreciate your candor while disagreeing with me.
However, your opinion kind of proves my point about the book. I agree that Tapestry in Action covers all the major aspects of Tapestry. But it doesn't cover how to use any of it. As I said, if you want to know how Tapestry works, buy this book. The title would imply to me that it shows me how to use it, not just how it works. I feel the book failed to do so. The beauty, however, of the review process is that for my "luke-warm" review there can be 100 10 horseshoe reviews from people that felt differently about the book, including yourself.
Furthermore, as far as Tapestry itself, I never said anything bad about the framework. I reviewed a book. Not a framework. I completely agree that Tapestry really requires you to drop those preconceptions and lingering ideas of how things should be done. Tapestry is a very original, unique, and interesting framework.
...but a book really says a lot about the maturity of a framework...
That's not entirely true. Did you read my review of JavaServer Faces Programming? Unless I am misunderstanding, a book says nothing about the maturity of a framework.
[ March 16, 2004: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]
[ March 16, 2004: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]

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HS Thomas
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Are Tapestry and JSF similar ?
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Originally posted by HS Thomas:
Are Tapestry and JSF similar ?

In what they do, yes. In how they do it, no, I don't think so.
As this forum is for Book Review discussions, your question might be better asked in the Struts and Other Frameworks forum.
Thomas Paul
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Erik, I think you have confused the review of the book with a review of the product. Gregg's comments seem quite clear that the book is not well written:
The book does then go into an example login form but fails to complete the example before going into detail about each html component. The middle chapters, 6-9, are the meat of the book and provide some good "under the hood" about Tapestry but they just don't mesh well with the beginning and ending of the book.
Those are legitimate complaints about the book.
My own experience is that people who are too close to a technology don't write good books because they forget what it is like to not know something. I see this quite often with books and articles that are for beginners but skip crucial steps because "everyone knows how to do that". Gregg approached this book as a beginner and found serious holes that caused him to give the book a lower rating. That does not mean that Tapestry isn't good. It just means that Tapestry in Action isn't.


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Erik Hatcher
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Gregg - I'm curious... have you used Tapestry? Did you try the examples from his book? I'm just curious if you yourself put Tapestry in Action during your review of the book. If you did not, then I take your review much less seriously because it requires using something to understand it, and I think you would then find Howard's book more enlightening.
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Originally posted by Erik Hatcher:
Gregg - I'm curious... have you used Tapestry? Did you try the examples from his book? I'm just curious if you yourself put Tapestry in Action during your review of the book. If you did not, then I take your review much less seriously because it requires using something to understand it, and I think you would then find Howard's book more enlightening.

Yes, I tried to use Tapestry. And I tried the examples in the book. But, like many tech books, the examples are typically code fragments and only give glimpses as to what needs to be done. Then there are 100 pages of explination and how it works. It felt like someone was explaining the API to me instead of showing me how to put it to use. A good mixture of the two would have been better. I felt like the book was trying to sell a framework. The framework should sell itself. A book should simply show me how to use it.
The title of the book should have been "Tapestry Under the Hood" or something that describes what I felt the book conveyed.
With that being said, that doesn't mean I am right. But it doesn't mean I am wrong either. And you can take my review as seriously as you want or don't want. Book reviews are opinions and everyone is entitled to their own. You are more than welcome to write a review yourself. I tried hard to keep my opinion of Tapestry the framework completely out of my review as a fair book review should.
I realize my review can potentially affect sales. But anyone who reads a single review and bases their notion as whether or not to buy a book probably has no business buying the book in the first place.
[ March 17, 2004: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]
Iain Shigeoka
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Joined: Mar 14, 2002
Posts: 20
Hi all,
I thought I'd pop in and add my own comments. Up front disclaimer: I'm the Manning webmaster, although not involved in this particular book project directly (other than supporting it on the site).
We're in the middle of migrating much of our site from an old, existing php system to Java (why the migration is occuring in the first place is fodder for another discussion). Just before the book was published (but after it went to the printers) the publisher asked me to check out Tapestry as an interesting technology for use in our site. I'd heard of Tapestry but never gotten past the front page at Jakarta Apache. So many frameworks, so little time.
I grabbed the ebook and sat down with the intention of seeing what Tapestry could do for us. I read some parts, and skimmed over a lot of the details so I could just absorb a high level "how it works and what it does". In that sense, I feel the book really succeeds. It's clearly written, and it sells the framework and demonstrates how it benefits a development effort. Being the first and only book on the framework, I think there needs to be this kind of coverage - people like me who don't know much about the framework need to be sold on it as much as educated on how to use it. I walked away from that first evening reading excited about the technology and eager to dig into details and try it out.
I also realize that it's a potential downside of the book (and Gregg points that out), it does sell the framework a lot. And I agree that the title may not be the best. The "In Action" series tends to be a lot more practical and focused. I also was struck with the steep learning curve introduced - actually several rather large steps throughout the book. The first comes with Chapter 2 where the general chapter 1 overview jumps right into a complete Tapestry application. After some discussion Howard produced a "Hello World" example that helps to bridge the transition and we've posted that on our website. Unfortunately the book was already being printed so it couldn't be introduced into the text.
The final book example takes another big jump in complexity introducing a pretty big tapestry application that uses most tapestry features, and utilizes EJBs for persistence. The examples assume the reader is familiar with EJBs so the entire persistence side is largely glossed over. This can be a rather harsh assumption since EJBs are complex, and the many EJB dedicated books show that EJBs aren't a trivial technology to master (even at a simple application level). On the flipside, for those of us looking to get a feel for Tapestry, and for architects and designers, the EJB example really helps to show how Tapestry's various components are used within an EJB environment (which is much more realistic but very complex).
My feeling is that TIA is a little bit of a tutorial with a lot of advanced (tapestry under the hood stuff) and designer/architect level content. Manning usually publishes books at the intermediate to advanced level and I think we may have hit that mark but shot too high for the existing market with this first Tapestry book - it's going to be hard for novices to get up to speed with using Tapestry with this book alone and there are probably a lot more Tapestry novices (or people looking to become Tapestry novices) than experienced users out there. The full spectrum coverage helps evaluators and planners immensely and tries to provide advanced Tapestry developers with a lot of very valuable information in tinkering with Tapestry. As a how-to tutorial though, the book does have shortcomings.
I like Gregg's suggestion that the title should have been Tapestry Under the Hood. Or my suggestion of Advanced Tapestry. They're probably more accurate and with that title, would probably have set expectations properly for what is an excellent (if mistitled) book. Unfortunately, since it's already in print, changing the name is difficult. Perhaps a focused introductory book on using Tapestry should be on the Manning roster.
-iain
Kishore Dandu
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Posts: 1934
Here is the link to the serverside review of the book. Looks like the content deserves better rating than given by the ranch.
Ranch reviews are usually on the liberal side(like 8*s for average books). If that is the case this book also deserves reasonable rating. I would think this book needs another review from expert reviewer like Tom.


Kishore
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Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Here is the link to the serverside review of the book. Looks like the content deserves better rating than given by the ranch.
I'll ask the same question that Howard lewis Ship asked, what makes you think this other article is more accurate?
Ranch reviews are usually on the liberal side(like 8*s for average books). If that is the case this book also deserves reasonable rating. I would think this book needs another review from expert reviewer like Tom.
I think we once figured out that the average review on Javaranch is around a 7 which turns into 4 stars on amazon. Gregg's review of the Tapestry book comes out to 3 stars on Amazon. I would say that based on how Gregg has described the book that I would agree with a 3 star review.
Kishore Dandu
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ok no problem.
We will see how reviews come out on Amazon on this book. and then we can map if it is relatively accurate(compared to 4amazon=7javaranch concept).
As some one from Manning remarked, it could be more todo with bad naming og the book. May be it should have been titled "Advanced Tapestry".
Gregg Bolinger
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    6

Originally posted by Kishore Dandu:
Here is the link to the serverside review of the book. Looks like the content deserves better rating than given by the ranch.

Ranch reviews are usually on the liberal side(like 8*s for average books). If that is the case this book also deserves reasonable rating. I would think this book needs another review from expert reviewer like Tom.


Why does there have to be some mapping between Javaranch book reviews and Amazon book reviews?

Look, I expected something different from the book. Partially based on the Title but also from the Table of Contents. I don't really like the In Action series from Manning at all. The whole series should be renamed. But that is neither here nor there.

I am interested in Tapestry. That's why I wanted to review the book because I wanted to learn it.

Although I did the review for Javaranch, the review does not reflect the opinions of Javaranch as a whole. It is simply my opinion. If you don't like it, fine. Don't try and argue about it. I'm not going to change my mind. As I said before, for every 1 review I do there can be 100 reviews going the other way. Which I would suspect is the case because a lot of other people seem to like the book. You don't see me getting all bent out of shape because I don't agree.

Get over it!
Don Stadler
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An update on Tapesty in Action. I checked Amazon.com today. There are 8 reviews, all with 5 stars. They don't look faked to my eyes but some of the reviews may come from Tapestry fans.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Posts: 24183
    
  34

Kishore --

I thought about deleting your message outright, but I recognize that you're trying to make a point, and although I think you could have made it sound less like a personal attack, you do have a right to your opinion.

A book review is an account of one individual person's reaction to a book. It's not a group activity. You'll notice that we post book reviews in an open thread, so that other people can post their (possibly conflicting) opinions, as has happened here. But the goal isn't to get the original reviewer to change their mind -- it's too discuss other opinions about the book. Gregg didn't like the book. He doesn't have to like the book. A lot of other people did. That's the story. Time to move on.

Now, as far as the "architect" statement: I think you're hugely off base. An "architect" who kowtows to majority opinion is utterly lost. It takes a tremendous amount of vision and strength of character to hold your ground when other people disagree with you, and if anything, I think Gregg's demonstrated a tremendous amount of integrity here.


[Jess in Action][AskingGoodQuestions]
Kishore Dandu
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What I was trying to point is that a book that is getting all 5 stars on Amazon(all look like genuite feedbacks) does not deserve less than a 7 stars in the Javaranch.

I would suggest the main reviewer be kept in a radar for the next couple of reviews(just to make sure his opinions are not offbase).

Some of the readers of the reviews come here for consistency. Irrespective of the personal opinion of a reviewer I would suggest a 'consistent review' from Javaranch.

You may say that it is a big hassle to create a process for book reviews, than get it done by specific reviewer. But Book review section is one of the main parts of Javaranch and needs a process than individual opinions I think.

Once again it is just my opinion, 100 opinion may go the otherway though.
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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  34

Originally posted by Kishore Dandu:

If the architect is stiff and sticks with his opinions, the upper management will sure get pissed off bigtime. Just a observation.


Ah. But you're assuming that the JavaRanch upper management wants Gregg to change his review. We don't. We want our reviewers to post their honest opinions. We stand behind Gregg 100%.

Management doesn't want an architect to take a vote among the coders and do what they want. Management wants an architect to stick to his guns.
Jamie Robertson
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reviews are not about a rating out of 10 or 5 or any other number. A review is about the writing after the number. Gregg discusses in depth his opinion about why he came to a number of 5. People also have different scales on how they rate books. A 5 for Gregg might be average compared to someone else that considers an average book to be a 7. In any case, it's all about the "review" ( aka the text after the number ).

Jamie
Don Stadler
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Without pretending that I know anything about either Tapestry or Tapestry in Action, it seems to me that Greg made an important point. Tapestry in Action may have been too much of an 'experts book' to fit the current market. Greg wanted to know 'how' and the book told him 'why'. Another recent pan (for a title named Pro JMX made a similar point; it was valuable to someone who wanted to implement a new version of JMX but less valuable to someone who wished to use JMX!

I could see how this could be an easy trap for a project founder to fall into. His concerns may not be the same as those who follow in his wake....

Why books are valuable but only after there are plenty of how books out there so people can learn the basics before leaping to the advanced levels. When I begin looking at a technology my question is 'how can this help me solve my problems and improve something?'. Once I've cleared that hurdle then the 'why' book provides enrichment, as do things like cookbooks.

Perhaps the lesson here for the Tapestry community is that there is a deep need for a beginners title about Tapestry?
[ May 27, 2004: Message edited by: Don Stadler ]
Kishore Dandu
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Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:


Ah. But you're assuming that the JavaRanch upper management wants Gregg to change his review. We don't. We want our reviewers to post their honest opinions. We stand behind Gregg 100%.

Management doesn't want an architect to take a vote among the coders and do what they want. Management wants an architect to stick to his guns.


Please don't come to your own conclusions. I am not asking any so called 'Upper management' of Javaranch to influence Gregg to change his review. All I am saying is try for some consistency, by way of two reviews instead of one lone review(that can be misleading or right on target).

Management for sure does not want a vote from coders(they don't ususally give a damn about coders), they do try to influence the architect to follow their own choices. this is the case with real world companies.

For sure real world company environment can not be mapped to how 'JavaRanch' is structured, and can not be used as a anology.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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I have a copy of Tapestry in Action and will review it as soon as I am finished with the book I am currently reading.
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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    6

For sure real world company environment can not be mapped to how 'JavaRanch' is structured, and can not be used as a anology.

And for sure how well of an Architect I would make cannot be mapped to how I review a book. :roll:

What I was trying to point is that a book that is getting all 5 stars on Amazon(all look like genuite feedbacks) does not deserve less than a 7 stars in the Javaranch.

Are you kidding? You are saying that because of review A, review B should be...Wouldn't that contaminate the whole review process? Why would I base my review ranking on what others think?

So what Amazon rating would map to my rating of this book?

I would suggest that you should review the book and post it in this thread. The problem of course being that now people have to read through all this crap about my review and how wrong I am just to get to the next review. What a waste...

I would suggest the main reviewer be kept in a radar for the next couple of reviews(just to make sure his opinions are not offbase).

I don't even know what to say about this.
Kishore Dandu
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Posts: 1934
Gregg,

Personally this thread or my commenting is going out of hand. Please don't take this to the heart.

I was only trying to improve the process and trying to express my opinions. I sure don't want to be considered as a trouble maker. From next time, I will try to be more polite and upto the point with respect to my opinions and concerns(than pointing the opinion on a personal level).

Let us all be friends and work towards improving the Javaranch(it is up there in quality anyway) to be more powerful.
[ May 27, 2004: Message edited by: Kishore Dandu ]
Gregg Bolinger
GenRocket Founder
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Posts: 15299
    
    6

Originally posted by Kishore Dandu:
Gregg,

Personally this thread or my commenting is going out of hand. Please don't take this to the heart.

I was only trying to improve the process and trying to express my opinions. I sure don't want to be considered as a trouble maker. From next time, I will try to be more polite and upto the point with respect to my opinions and concerns(than pointing the opinion on a personal level).

Let us all be friends and work towards improving the Javaranch(it is up there in quality anyway) to be more powerful.

[ May 27, 2004: Message edited by: Kishore Dandu ]


Agreed.
Jason Menard
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Posts: 6450
As one of the managers of the Book Review process here at the Ranch, I would like to point out that if for some reason we feel that a review doesn't do a book justice, we may decide to have it re-reviewed if we (the book review managers) feel it is appropriate. That's not the case here however.

Like somebody stated earlier, the reason book reviews are posted here is so they may be discussed. Not everybody will agree with the reviewer's opinions. That is to be expected. But the reviews are just that - one reviewer's opinion. The opinions are justified in the review, so either one agrees with those justifications or they don't. If someone doesn't agree, they may post here and tell us why (hopefully they've read the book). We don't look at any other site to determine how our reviews map to theirs. We are one of the main review sites on the Internet for Java related books and we feel secure enough in our reputation amongst readers, authors, and publishers so that we have no need to see how our reviews compare to other sites.

Our book review process is a valid topic for discussion, but if anyone has any questions or comments about it, the JavaRanch forum would be the place to do it. I would be happy to answer any questions on the subject.
Ilja Preuss
author
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
Our book review process is a valid topic for discussion, but if anyone has any questions or comments about it, the JavaRanch forum would be the place to do it. I would be happy to answer any questions on the subject.


What about splitting this thread, moving the part about the review process to the JavaRanch forum and only leaving the part about the book here?


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Book Review Team
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<pre>
Review by : Thomas Paul
Rating : 7 horseshoes
</pre>
Tapestry is a web development framework that is radically different than most other frameworks used for web development. The author of this book, Howard Lewis Ship, is the principal architect of Tapestry. It is often the case that an expert is not necessarily the best person to write about a topic as they often forget what it is like to be a novice. The book starts with this problem but fortunately after the first couple of chapters the book improves greatly.

Chapter one is an introduction to Tapestry. The explanation is far from clear so if you don't know what Tapestry is when you start this chapter, you will still not know what it is when you finish. Chapter two is our first exposure to a Tapestry application but the author chooses a sample (a hangman game) that is complicated and is not a typical web application.

Chapters three through five discuss HTML forms and form components, showing how to use and validate them in a Tapestry application. The next three chapters show how to build your own form components and the last two chapters show how to build a complete Tapestry application. Starting with chapter three the book takes a turn for the better. If you were lost at the beginning of the book, it will all make sense by the time you get to the end.

I can strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in Tapestry whether they are a novice or an experienced Tapestry developer.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
Kishore Dandu
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Originally posted by Book Review Team:
<pre>
Review by : Thomas Paul
Rating : 7 horseshoes
</pre>
Tapestry is a web development framework that is radically different than most other frameworks used for web development. The author of this book, Howard Lewis Ship, is the principal architect of Tapestry. It is often the case that an expert is not necessarily the best person to write about a topic as they often forget what it is like to be a novice. The book starts with this problem but fortunately after the first couple of chapters the book improves greatly.

Chapter one is an introduction to Tapestry. The explanation is far from clear so if you don't know what Tapestry is when you start this chapter, you will still not know what it is when you finish. Chapter two is our first exposure to a Tapestry application but the author chooses a sample (a hangman game) that is complicated and is not a typical web application.

Chapters three through five discuss HTML forms and form components, showing how to use and validate them in a Tapestry application. The next three chapters show how to build your own form components and the last two chapters show how to build a complete Tapestry application. Starting with chapter three the book takes a turn for the better. If you were lost at the beginning of the book, it will all make sense by the time you get to the end.

I can strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in Tapestry whether they are a novice or an experienced Tapestry developer.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk


I think my efforts are somewhat vindicated(all the fight about 5 horseshoes etc.

I think uncle tom is trying to be politically correct by giving a intermidiate 7 so that he is closer to the initial reviewer and at the same time give it a pretty good review.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Actually I was torn between 3 and 4 stars on amazon. The beginning of the book was terrible and I think the book would have been better just by tearing out chapters 1 and 2. I think the main difference in the review between Gregg and me is that I got more out of chapters 3-5 than he did although I think they could have used some work. 7 is an average rating and that is really what the book is. It could have been a lot better but since there is so little documentation on Tapestry out there, it really is required for anyone interested in Tapestry.
Junilu Lacar
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Joined: Feb 26, 2001
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    6

I'm having the same experience as Tom with the first 3 chapters. The choice of the hangman game as the first example was a poor one, IMHO. Still, I'm encouraged by Tom's assurance that it will get better in the later chapters. I've been working with Struts long enough to want to start looking for a better alternative.


Junilu - [How to Ask Questions] [How to Answer Questions]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Junilu Lacar:
I'm having the same experience as Tom with the first 3 chapters. The choice of the hangman game as the first example was a poor one, IMHO. Still, I'm encouraged by Tom's assurance that it will get better in the later chapters. I've been working with Struts long enough to want to start looking for a better alternative.


JSF is very similar to Tapestry with the added bonus that it is a standard.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: Tapestry In Action by Howard M. Lewis Ship