Book Review of the Month

Cocoon: Developer's Handbook
Lajos Moczar and Jeremy Aston
Cocoon is a Java-based open source XML content manager and publishing engine from the Apache project. This book was written as an introduction to Cocoon for the developer with a good background in XML and Java but with no background in Cocoon. Part I of the book is an introduction to Cocoon. I found this part of the book to be very difficult and confusing. There was a lot of writing on Generators, Transformers, and Serializers, but the overall discussion was hard to follow. Fortunately, this was only the first 65 pages of the book. Starting with Part II, the book takes on a whole new and much better flavor. After a chapter describing how to install Cocoon, the authors go right into some real examples of how to use Cocoon. Suddenly all the information from Part I which felt incomplete started making sense. The examples and sample code (which need to be downloaded) are excellent in explaining how to use Cocoon. This section goes through example after example, each demonstrating more of the functionality of Cocoon. All the examples worked exactly as advertised and were well designed to demonstrate the many capabilities of Cocoon. Part III of the book discusses advanced topics such as database connectivity, web services, and integrating Cocoon with EJBs. Part IV covers design factors, administration, etc. The last two parts of the book are reference tools. Overall, I thought the authors did a good job of making Cocoon easy to understand.
(Thomas Paul - Sheriff, April 2003)
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