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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XSLT 2.0 Programmer's Reference (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Michael Kay
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Difficult reference to use


I have three main problems using this book for the last few weeks on my first serious attempt to use xslt on a non-trivial problem.

The first is the most minor and is that the graphics are really poor. This is true for almost every one in the document, but if you have a chance to look at the book, check out page 56 for example. They are not what I would consider production-quality graphics. The extreme amount of aliasing makes the small font used in these diagrams almost unreadable. I don't understand how this could have been judged acceptable by the publishers.

Second is that it is very hard to find things in this book. Chapter 5 is the alphabetical reference for the xslt elements. The header at the top of the page does not list the element that is being described on the page. Also the font and style for the element headings are no different for their subheadings. This means there is no easy way to navigate this 300+ page section by flipping through it to find what you need. Whenever you want to find something, you have to go to the index first...

which is the second problem with trying to find things. The index itself is poor. When I first got the book, I read it from cover to cover (except for chapters 5 and 7 which are alphabetical reference sections). As I have been trying to use this book as a reference, I remember paragraphs or tables that I want to look at again, but I can't find them from the index. For example, I knew there was a table somewhere that listed all the different axes and I wanted to find it to get the exact name of an axis I wanted to use. The word "axis" (or "axes") is not in the index at all.

I am using this book daily and am finding myself frustrated every day with similar problems trying to find something that I know is in the book, but can't get to directly from the index. More than once I have resorted to flipping page-by-page through the book to find what I am looking for. At nearly 900 pages, it gets old really fast.

My third problem with the book stems from his statement in the introduction that "Since XSLT 2.0 has such a strong dependence on XPath 2.0, you really need both books..." where he is referring to his XPath book. He is not joking when he says that. It doesn't say that explicitly on the cover or on the web page description. But you can't go far in the book without finding a statement that what you are looking for is explained in a chapter of his XPath book. Maybe that is more true for me, as a newcomer to both, but it is different from his previous edition and something you should be aware of.

On the positive side, the book is comprehensive (within the bounds of its purposeful exclusion of XPath). I do not recommend it as an introductory text. The introduction acknowledges it is not meant as a tutorial. From my experience, it is downright unfriendly to xslt newbies.

I was able to get "The XSL Companion" by Neil Bradley from my library and found it to explain things better. I have read good things about Jeni Tennison's books and am waiting to check out her upcoming "Beginning XSLT 2.0".



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Object Primer : Agile Model-Driven Development with UML 2.0
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: Scott W. Ambler
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Don't do it. Please.


Scott's other books are really good (like "Elements of UML Style"), but it seems that he decided to take a vacation with this one.
I had to use the previous version for class and hated it then for the hard-to-read text (incomplete, convoluted sentences, unclear examples, etc.), and it seems that not much has changed now.
Sure, he's updated to include AM, but if you're looking for a clear, understanable text for the beginner, you might look elsewhere. If you already know the material, this is probably not a good reference.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Managing the Testing Process: Practical Tools and Techniques for Managing Hardware and Software Testing, 2nd Edition
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Rex Black, Rex Black
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book!


Just bought it! ... Read it! Great compilation of testing procedures.
In theory, the practice of all testing procedures works. In practice, not all testing theories work. This book works in theory and practice!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Testing Applications on the Web: Test Planning for Internet-Based Systems
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Hung Q. Nguyen
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A strong introduction to a new field


This is good book. If you test web apps, you should buy it.
Hung Nguyen and I are co-authors of another book and good friends. I am not an unbiased reviewer. On the other hand, I wouldn't write this review if I didn't believe every word of it.
Hung's book breaks new ground. It will be useful today, and I believe it will have lasting value and influence.
Once you get beyond the superficial (not unimportant, but much less difficult) issues of usability testing that dominate so many discussions of web testing, you run into the really tough problems of web application testing. Hung Nguyen's book is about those harder problems.
The web-based application runs on a wider range of platforms than any other type of program in history. It doesn't even have control over its presentation layer (the user supplies the browser and the multimedia plugins, and these applications might change any time). What will the application look like on the changed browser? The application probably also relies on third party databases (which can change any time), third party network connections (which can change any time), third party security systems and other access control (which can change any time), etc., etc. Almost anything in this system can change any time. How do you deal with a system that has so many unknowns?
Hung's view is that web application testers must learn more about the technical details of the systems and understand how external variables can interact (and fail) with the application under test.
To help testers learn about the interaction (and testing) of applications with other system components, he wrote the field's first book on grey box testing.
This book has substantial value for what it teaches us about testing on the web. Beyond that, it teaches about thinking clearly and thoroughly when your application interacts in complex ways with other systems. I think his approach will have lasting value and lasting influence long after many of the detailed issues that he describes have been resolved and replaced with new ones.
Along with the original approach, Hung gives a powerful real-world example. He is the president of a company that publishes a web-based bug tracking system. To illustrate the types of tests that you can run and the types of bugs you can find, he opened his records and described real tests, real bugs, and real testing problems. It's a rare treat to see a discussion of testing experience by someone who knows testing, who also intimately knows the software under test, and who isn't constrained in what he can say by a nondisclosure contract.