The best book that puts it all together,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Philip & Alex's Guide to Web Publishing. (Taschenbuch)I'm indebted to this book, because I badly needed one, single, book which covered this wide area of Websites, good design, usability, back-end technology, and a whole lot else. This is the only book I know that fits the bill.
The author's writing style is unusual. The book reads like a lecture rather than a book. It is conversational, and the prose therefore is a little less tightly structured and focused than most classic texts I've read. The author chooses to digress into his pet peeves every now and then, but his peeves make interesting reading.
If you are expecting a "great" book, with a style similar to the Unix classics, e.g. Kernighan and Ritchie's book on C, then you won't get it here. But Greenspun's style is perhaps more appropriate for the unstructured and extensive subject area he attempts to cover. He covers Websites to begin with, and what makes Websites usable. He then moves on to interactive Websites and the technologies behind them. Finally, he covers implementation details, including database systems, scripting languages, and all sorts of other hands-on areas.
One impression that I came away with is that Greenspun is a good engineer. His sense of good engineering elegance is extremely rare, and this sense is visible all through the book. I agree with his choices of technology, and in particular, his reasons for choosing them. An unusual choice is his preference for Tcl as a scripting language over Perl. I feel that his book would have allowed more readers to relate to his examples if he had used Perl, which I suspect is more popular than Tcl, at least in the Web scripting world. Similarly, his choice of AOLServer + Tcl leaves one wishing that he had covered Apache + mod_perl in as much depth.
His coverage of issues like rationale behind choosing one DBMS over another, is really rare. I wouldn't say his treatment is systematic or exhaustive, but no other book I have read even attempts to address these issues from the practitioner's viewpoint the way he does. And the descriptions of his experiences with Cybercash, server downtime, etc., are superb.
This book is in a class by itself. Having handled Web application development since 1995, I felt I had found a kindred soul.
I am using this book as required reading for a course on Web Technology for Information Management majors, which I teach, in a management institute in Bombay. I will also make it required reading in the software development firm which I manage... especially for the managers. :)