Saturday, January 9, 2010

jBPM Developer Guide review - introduction (part I of III)

Click on book to buy!
The book arrived and I will be starting my review. I plan to split the review into three parts to cover this introduction, the first six chapters and finishing up with the last six chapters.

The jBPM Developer Guide is a PACKT publishing offering, which is publishing books on technical subjects for sme time now. They offer good quality books, with nice artwork and feel to them. This one is 350 pages and feels like you should be able to carry it with you as a reference guide to jBPM. PACKT is based in Birmingham, UK but the Credits page lists a team that contains the author (South American), a proof reader, two reviewers (South American) and a list of editors (India mostly).

After reading the Preface I was wondering what these people all did, for they surely can not be proud of the English used. Please don't get me wrong, it is English that is correct, but it is definitely English from a non-native speaker. This is a shame as it degrades the reading experience and is sometimes even down right annoying. I would expect proof readers, reviewers and editing teams to take more care with the final results.

That being said, the contents looks promising with chapters covering:
  • soft introduction to BPM
  • some graph programming and a first process
  • setup of the development enviornment (jBPM, JBoss Drools, JBoss ESB, Maven, MySQL, Eclipse and SVN)
  • jPDL
  • implementing an example process
  • persistence in jBPM
  • Human Tasks with an example
  • process variables
  • looking closer into some advanced features
My initial impressions and questions are:
  • I don't understand why all these technologies have been used in a jBPM Developer Guide (Drools, ESB, Maven, MySQL, Eclipse and SVN)
  • the author gives us "homework" in the first three chapters, but then it just stops until the ninth chapter, rather a shame
  • miss exception handling as an advanced feature?
  • not sure the author has experienced "life in the trenches" with jBPM?
  • why is the focus only on jBPM 3.x and nothing is said about jBPM 4.x, the only actively developed version of jBPM at the time of this books writing?
Well, it is always good to review something with some initial questions, so stay tuned as I explore the book further in the coming weeks.

Onwards to jBPM Developer Guide review part II
Onwards to jBPM Developer Guide review part III


  1. Hi,

    I am English non-native speaker too. I will read the new book soon and I am sure that will be a good read.

    I read that he didn`t said nothing about jBPM 4.x because is not well trust framework. I think that he should mention because jBPM 4.x has BPMN 1.x and next BPMN 2.0 implementation, signavio web-based console, ...



  2. Hi Eric,
    I'm an italian programmer and I bought this book because it should be written from a programmer for another programmer.. and if the author is not a native english imho isn't a primary problem :-) I'm waiting for the deliver of this interesting book and I will tell you my opinion about it. Thanks for your review, I will compare it with my impressions. Bye, corrado

  3. First off I am not an English native speaker, well but it might works as my second language sometimes, and as "a second language" obviously I may have many many mistakes, which imho is quite acceptable once in my country the spoken language is the Brazilian Portuguese.

    My concern is that your 2nd or 3rd parts are definitely useless, once you are very clear in your report that you are suffering reading this book, the writing (Never forget: "English as a Second Language").

    Back to the basics, this is a book over an opensource project, and I know Mauricio Salatino(the author)is a talented Argentinian guy, deeply involved with other opensource initiatives, and he is able to write a high level content about jBPM, and I believe that show how JBPM can be useful together with JBoss ESB is great! Where is the problem? So I will answer your initial (Would be great if the last ones):

    - I don't understand why all these technologies have been used in a jBPM Developer Guide (Drools, ESB, Maven, MySQL, Eclipse and SVN)

    ES: Well, as I said before, I guess that show where JBPM can be integrated with, is really worth, I can't see any problem....

    - The author gives us "homework" in the first three chapters, but then it just stops until the ninth chapter, rather a shame
    miss exception handling as an advanced feature?

    ES: Good point, however extremelly particular...

    not sure the author has experienced "life in the trenches" with jBPM?

    ES: Outside the IT trenches we must respect others, and you are not treating a colleague with the deserved respect, I will keep my opinion with myself because I won't be so respectful for sure with you. Although I have to say that Salatino uses a nick name: Salaboy, use the sophisticated searching : Google , maybe you will find out some

    why is the focus only on jBPM 3.x and nothing is said about jBPM 4.x, the only actively developed version of jBPM at the time of this books writing?

    ES: Well, JBPM 3.x is totally stable! Besides, as you are a JBoss Solution Architect, you must be aware that Red Hat officially supports just the 3.x vesion, and not 4.x for awhile...... Moreover I asked Mauricio Salatino about this as well, and he told me that he will start a new book edition, where he will cover this new version, well my friend, such as Software(version), books might have "edition", and we assume that it would be an update, erratas sections for sure....

    Well, my thought is that if you are a really a super JBPM guy, the community would love to read your lessons, experiences, concepts and very high level examples, codes and so on.... So my friend, as community member, we are missing your book at this moment! So when you decide to sit, and expend about 6 months of your time writing, maybe you will be able to write any book reviewing. As you said my friend in your post: "Don't get me wrong".

    Sorry my friend, but the "opensource concept" provides for places like South America, Central America, Africa, Asia and so on, a way to try to get a seat on the Technology sphere, I am proud Brazilian, and I respect you pretty much. My main objective in my answer is not to create an enemy,but just try make you to rethink your concepts... BTW, one of the JBoss.ORG slogans is "Open your Mind" !!!

    Have fun, and a happy new year, you will be welcome in Brazil anytime, even you are not a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker :)

  4. Hi Eric, thanks for your aggressive post about my book. :)
    I was surprised to read someone pretty close to the community and Red Hat that seems to doesn't understand the concept of a community contribution. I'm not saying that you need to say that my book is the best thing in the world. I wrote this book because I want to learn about how to write a book, and because I want to give something back to the community. I recognize my mistakes, I will work harder in my English, I will try to put homework in all the chapters, but you need to recognize that writing books, as any kind of community contributions are better when the community gets involved. For that reason I prefer to get a big list of erratas to the next version of the book. In software is the same, or should I say that jBPM is a very bad framework because it's in the 4th version? It would be nice to see more "bad" books that people from the community write, to have different points of views to choose, that nothing because aggressive reviews scare all the community members. I'll take your review as a constructive thing, I will continue writing about technology, because I'm new to the field, I enjoy it and I want to learn and improve my skills. I hope that you get involved with the book and send your erratas about the language and the content to packt, and we as community can get a better book about this awesome framework.

    PS: don't get me wrong, I'm not angry with you, and I'm not trying to be aggressive. I know that when you do something for the community the main idea is to get all the feedback (bad and good) to become a better person/developer/writer.

    PS2: I'm not a writer by the way, just a developer

    PS3: sorry for my language mistakes, once again.

    I hope to see you in FOSDEM!

  5. By the way, I keep thinking about the sentence that mention ESB and Drools. My experience tell me that 99% of the cases you need to communicate jBPM with some external systems and you have complex, real-life business logic. When I wrote the book one of the main problems was not talking about that topics in depth. You have questioned my experience, but in the other hand your experience seems to be very different from mine. We can discuss that in private if you want, I'm always open to a good discussion to learn new perspectives!

  6. Being a packt author myself I can surely agree on your point on the proof reading, but I can imagine that wouldn't give an opportunity to non English writers to deliver anything on time.
    Also, I'm sure RH technologies can benefit from any book as they also give more credibility to their solutions from the technical crowd.

  7. It seems the majority of the comments are upset with my review on the quality of the English in the book. I will clarify for those that missed my point.

    It is not a statement about the author. It is not his job to ensure (certainly not as a non-native speaker) that it is a solid English readable book. He is for the ideas, teaching and trying to bring the technical details to the masses.

    I feel that if I am to review anything that will cost a reader in excess of 48 Euro (price I have listed on the packing receipt and not incl. shipping), then I would be remiss in not mentioning the lack of PROOF READING and/or EDITING that the PUBLISHER is responsible for. Many authors in the world publish just fine with terrible English due to great publishing support (Manning, O'Reily, etc.).

    I could have dearly used a Developer Guide in my jBPM beginnings, instead I had to learn the hard way. I will continue to hold this book up to the promise it makes with a title 'jBPM Developer Guide' in my review. ;-)

    Stay tuned, review of chapters 1-6 coming up soon!

  8. On Amazon there are already 3 used versions being offered, but I don't get the pricing (the new price is now $46.84 excl. shipping):

    - $53.50
    - $81.79
    - $81.80

    Man, time to sell my copy! Any takers if I make you a deal? ;-)