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Sun Certified Web Component Developer Study Companion
by Charles Lyons

Garner Press
1 edition
July 2006
640 pages

Reviewed by Marc Peabody, August 2006
  (9 of 10)

The more experience you have, the more you'll appreciate the layout of this book, as the information is very structured with little foofoo noise. The design is especially helpful for learning class APIs, the web.xml, and standard actions. SCWCD Study Companion is certainly the best book on the market for those last few times you need to skim through everything the day leading up to the exam.

Each chapter ends with some superb questions, about 15 or so. Each question has a definite purpose to your learning process. The questions truly help enforce what important points you should remember from the chapter and what silly (though important) tricks to look out for in the exam. You can tell that the author put a copious amount of time into writing thoughtful questions.

My only complaint with the book is that, in my opinion, it's weak on Design Patterns. I've always felt that the online pattern catalogues were the best study resource for these anyway, so it's not a huge deal.

Charles Lyons' SCWCD Study Companion comes with a companion of its own: an online mock exam (also available for purchase separately). The mock exam has lots of tricky questions, so be sure you're ready first. It will certainly make you more aware of what to look out for in the real exam. In fact, it feels just like a real Sun exam except without the nasty drag and drop my-answers-disappeared bug (thank goodness!).

Upon completion, you can review the answers with explanations at your leisure, even days later. And get this - the bloke actually wrote the mock and its underlying engine himself, so his hands are very well in it and any errata will be fixed promptly. Few exams are so living as this.

The question most people will be asking is how this book compares to Head First Servlets & JSP (HFSJ). It's smaller and easier to carry. I find, though there are fewer pictures and jokes, I can make it through more topics before my brain starts to hurt. I think this is because the material is so well organized that my brain doesn't have to defrag it all afterward. HFSJ may be more fun to read, but those that want just the down and dirty might better appreciate Study Companion. The Study Companion makes a better reference book, a better book for subsequent reads, and is much easier to transport between work and home.

If you can afford two books, definitely get both the Study Companion and HFSJ. If you can only afford one, choose the one that best fits your style of learning.

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