RickJWagner writes "OSGi is a Java framework that's designed to simplify application deployments in shared environments. It allows applications with differing dependencies to run side-by-side in the same container without any deployment time contortions. The end result is that your application that needs FooLib v2.2.2 can run right beside my application that needs FooLib v1.0, something not often possible in today's application servers." Keep reading for the rest of Rick's review.OSGi is actually more than that, though. It's a framework with a very granular component lifecycle model, so you can carefully manage when the various parts of your application start up. It contains a service registry, so your application can either advertise or consume services. It's a controllable application runtime framework, complete with shell language that allows administrative tasks to be performed.
All these things and more are covered in the book. The author assumes the reader knows nothing more than what an average Java coder would know, so the development environment is given great coverage. (As is increasingly common, Maven2 is the build mechanism being used. The author goes to great lengths to explain how to construct every .pom file you'll need.) By the way, you'll be needing plenty of .pom files, as you are going to be incrementally building a simple bookshelf application, adding functionality chapter by chapter.
The book's example business logic is nothing out of the ordinary, which is good. If you're new to OSGi you're going to have your hands full learning the ins and outs of packing applications, the component deployment cycle, etc. Any experienced developer is going to instantly recognize the business problem you're trying to solve, so at least you won't be bothered by that. There is plenty of new material to study otherwise-- even tasks as ordinary as logging or deploying a servlet are vastly different than what you're probably used to. I remember I once read an article on the web about a new Java spec, the article was called "Don't make me eat the elephant again!" Well, if you're new to OSGi and want to get started.... break out the silverware!
In some ways, I'd compare Felix to an application server. It's an environment you use to deploy your applications, and it comes complete with a shell language used to administer the container. (The shell language, called 'Gogo', is given it's own chapter. You're also given Gogo commands throughout the book as you develop, deploy, and run your application.)
OSGi specifies a "Bundle Repository", which is a place where you can place your deployment artifacts so others can access them when they're listed as dependencies to their applications. (All this is done in the manifest files, by the way. You're given a good overview of all of this.) The OBR is yet another part of the landscape that will become important to you, so it's given good coverage in several chapters as you need to access it.
The development tasks are carefully covered. You are given very clear instructions on Maven to start, later on the author might withhold a little information to make you work a little. (Hint: the book's sample code fills in gaps nicely, if you get stuck.) The book also includes a series of 'Pop quizzes' to help you check your understanding of the material. More than once I found I might've been reading a little too quickly and paged back-- sure enough, the material had been presented, but I hadn't been paying enough attention. I liked this part of the book.
The application you're building is realistic enough, and you incrementally add functionality to it to make it something similar to what you might actually need in the real world. You start with the basic object model needed for a CRUD application, then add on niceties like a text UI, logging, a graphical interface, etc. Along the way you're introduced to things like iPojo, which is a dependency injection mechanism for OSGi. (Remember that elephant? Here's a small chunk...)
The book ends with a nice-to-have chapter on troubleshooting issues and two appendices. The first one covers the development environment, Maven/Eclipse. The second one covers advanced topics that should be within reach for the reader by the time they've reached the end of the book.
So, what's the bottom line? I'd say this book is good for anyone who wants to learn OSGi in general, or Felix in particular. No prerequisites exist, except maybe basic competency in Java. For developers just shopping around for an instructional book, without a need to pick up OSGi..... I'd say maybe not. (Why clutter your brain with this stuff, unless you're going to put it to good use?) Overall, the book is well written and presents things in an easily understandable way. On a scale of 1 — 10, I'd give this book an 8.1.
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