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Head First Servlets & JSP
by Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates, Bryan Basham, Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates, Bryan Basham

second edition
March 2008
911 pages

Reviewed by Ulf Dittmer, May 2008
  (8 of 10)

The second edition of this classic book about the Java Servlet and JSP API continues the tradition of other Head First titles that liven up the text with pictures, hand-scribbled notes, questions&answers and other devices to engage the reader's brain. Never having read a Head First book before, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised by how well this works. Even though the book is much thicker than I consider healthy for a tech book (over 800 pages), it's an easy read thanks to the lively prose and varied content elements.

The book is billed as a preparation aid for the SCWCD exam, but it also serves as a general introduction to Servlets and JSP. I found it easy to read individual chapters (e.g. on the Expression Language, servlet filters or custom tags) by themselves to refresh knowledge on particular topics. It's made clear which exam objectives are covered in each chapter, and there are exam-style questions and answers that go with the text, plus a brand-new mock exam with as many questions as the actual exam has.

I recommend this book as a tutorial -- not as a reference -- to anyone needing to come up to speed with servlets/JSP, or in need of learning aspects of it he hasn't used before. (Disclaimer: The author of this review was one of the tech reviewers of the book.)

Discuss book in the Saloon More info at

1 edition
July 2004
886 pages

Reviewed by Marc Peabody, February 2006
  (10 of 10)

Over at the JavaRanch Saloon's Web Component Certification (SCWCD) forum, Head First Servlets & JSP dominates as the book of choice. It appeals to both those with and those without Java EE experience and I'm constantly amazed at how quickly everyone learns using this book. The SCWCD testimonies that say "I passed!" are most often appended with "Thank you, Head First, for such a wonderful book!"

A couple points about what to expect:
* This is no crammer's book. You will get more than book smarts -- you will understand the significance of the questions and objectives to real world Java enterprise programming.
* Nor is this book a flowery tutorial. This is hardcore programming wisdom. It would take you at least two years of real-world, painful, trial-and-error experience to gain the equivalent knowledge on your own. That's just stupid.

I passed the SCWCD exam years ago (before Head First Servlets & JSP existed) but now I am going to upgrade my certification to the latest version. I have never been so confident for an exam before. I am soooo ready!

Discuss book in the Saloon More info at

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