Book Review of the Month

Pragmatic Project Automation
Mike Clark
If you're involved in any type of commercial Java projects, you owe yourself to pick up this book. I'm not kidding.

"Pragmatic Project Automation", the third book in the Pragmatic Programmers' Starter Kit series, authored by Mike Clark, is an invaluable asset for automating the grunt work of your Java development projects and raising your standards regarding quality, lead times in bug fixing, and eventually, the motivation of your whole team.

I read the book over a weekend in two sittings and enjoyed every minute of it. Mike has put together a series of high quality tutorials for setting up a repeatable build process using Ant, scheduling the build process using shell scripts, cron/at, and eventually CruiseControl, while keeping in the spirit of pragmatic thinking. He then continues by showing how to automate your release process and software deployment -- with both simple shell scripts and an open source graphical installer tool. To finish, he talks about different techniques for monitoring your software for errors.

I honestly couldn't find anything to complain about this book -- except that I wouldn't have minded reading another 150 pages of it.

(Lasse Koskela - Bartender, September 2004)
This little book could double your productivity by showing you how to make computers actually help you do your job. Do you spend too much time chasing configuration bugs, following checklists, and performing repetitive tasks that take time away from your coding and design duties? Then "Pragmatic Project Automation" is for you.

This isn't the kind of "software process" book that tries to sell you on following a methodology. There's no preaching, and there are no outlandish claims of productivity increases. Instead of selling snake oil, Mike Clark just wants to explain, in a clear, effective way, how to use open-source tools to automate your builds, release process, and application monitoring. Java tools like Ant, CruiseControl, and JUnit are the centerpieces of this book, but shell scripts and batch files also make cameo appearances.

There's even a section on assembling novel monitoring devices. Admit it -- wouldn't it be cool to have red and green Lava Lamps that light up according to the status of your project build?

The beginning programmer might wonder what all the fuss is about, but anyone tasked with delivering software on a schedule will appreciate the many ways in which this book will help them.

(Ernest Friedman-Hill - Sheriff, August 2004)
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Other books reviewed in September :

Contributing to Eclipse - Principles, Patterns, and Plug-Ins by Erich Gamma, Kent Beck
User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn
JUnit Recipes: Practical Methods for Programmer Testing by J.B.Rainsberger, Scott Stirling
How Tomcat Works by Budi Kurniawan, Paul Deck
Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL From Novice to Professional by W. Jason Gilmore
J2EE1.4 The Big Picture by Solvieg Haugland, Mark Cade, Anthony Orapallo
Dive Into Python by Mark Pilgrim
The Pragmatic Starter Kit by David Thomas, Andrew Hunt
The Product Marketing Handbook for Software by Merrill R. Chapman
Decompiling Java by Godfrey Nolan
Pro Jakarta Commons by Harshad Oak
Eclipse: Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins by Eric Clayberg, Dan Rubel
The Definitive Guide to Linux Network Programming by Keir Davis, John W. Turner, Nathan Yocom
Beginning JSP 2: From Novice to Professional by Peter Den Haan, Lance Lavandowska, Sathya Narayana Panduranga, Krishnaraj Perrumal