In just having recently completed a development project creating portlets for the first time with a Java Portlet Specification 2.0 (JSR 286) compliant portal server, I hope I can provide some insight into the effectiveness of this book, since I used it to hit the ground running. Simply put, I agree with some of the other reviews here that this book is very well put together. The progression of content that the author provides from one chapter to the next is effective for those newly tackling portal development. As a consultant in such a situation, I especially appreciated Chapter 1 ("Introducing Portals and Portlets"), Chapter 2 ("The Portlet Lifecycle"), Chapter 3 ("Portlet 2.0 API: Portlet Objects and Container-runtime Options"), Chapter 6 ("Using the Portlet Tag Library"), Chapter 7 ("Getting Started with Spring Portlet MVC"), and Chapter 11 ("Communicating with Other Portlets"). The UML sequence diagrams that the author provides greatly aided the material. And believe it or not, even at almost 600-pages the author even thankfully left out the fluff that one can unfortunately often expect in other developer texts of this genre.
That said, however, potential readers need to be aware of what this book does and does not provide. Unless the reader is using Liferay, the most frequently referenced portal server in this book, they should not expect to be able to get up to speed with any specific portal server. My target portal server, for example, was IBM WebSphere Portal 6.1.0, and this specific portal server is only mentioned in passing a few times by the author. Usage of the XML Configuration Interface, commonly known as XMLAccess, for example, which is a requirement when using the portal server in my project environment, was not covered. Personalization rules and managing portal pages was also not covered. As with other Java specifications, much is left up to implementers with regard to what is under the covers, but as with application servers, portal servers also provide features that sit outside these specifications. While I did not purchase this text expecting that the WebSphere implementation would be covered, as a novice in this space I also was not aware how much I would be dependent on product specific features. Well recommended guide and reference for those new to portal development, especially with Spring Portlet MVC.