May 28, 2012

Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack 11gR1: Essentials

This is a review of a book Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack 11gR1: Essentials by Hariharan V. Ganesarethinam written by request of Packt publishing.

The book is not for me to begin with:

This book assumes that you have a fundamental knowledge of Oracle SOA suite and its components.

I don't. Integration is part of my job, that's true, but I've never used Oracle SOA suite. Therefore my only hope was that the book was "essential" enough to be worth reading.

Well, it was, but unfortunately the experience was not pleasant.

As far as published texts go, I'm a grammar nazi. If it is on paper, it should at the very least be syntactically correct. You do have editors and proofreaders in Packt, don't you ?

This book doesn't pass the grammar check, thereare wordsglued together, wrong prepositions used into it, and sequence of tenses has done wrong.

To me this greatly undermines the book's authority. If the authors didn't even bother to check the grammar, what are the chances that it contains correct information and in such form that I understand it right ?

And that would not be an easy challenge.

The author uses words such as "securities" (plural of security), "compatibilities", "upgradation", "inbuilt", "self-intelligent", "real-time" (supposedly instead of "real-life") and "product portfolio".

Writing style is less than perfect, but that would be nitpicking, because there are whole sentences that make no sense, for example:

review the test results, and correct the implementation if any.
we need to know the name of the operation where we are going to test and type.

And here is an example of an outright contradiction:

* EBF can only invoke or be invoked by another EBF or EBS. It never communicates with ABCS directly.
* EBF can be invoked by requester ABCS.

Even when the sentence structure is correct, one can encounter something like this:

AIA recommends extending these business processes at logical entry points. However, it does not recommend any four point extension locations.

WTF is "four point location" ?

The text is dense with acronyms. Safe would be to say that on average every sentence in this book contains about two. This makes it very hard to read. Besides, the purpose often seems to be not making it clear to the reader, but including every single one, as though omission would render the writing incorrect. Therefore trains of acronyms are repeated again and again.

Specifically in summary sections, same statements are repeated like 5 times in different variations.

Enough about the style, what about the content ?

The book essentially contains 3 types of information.

1. Architecture and components of Oracle AIA.

As we presumably have "a fundamental knowledge of Oracle SOA suite", there is no big picture, overview of purpose, problem, process, tools or methods. Instead, it jumps right to AIA components.

And it explains them well enough I guess. Upon reading this book I have an essential if vague understanding what AIA consists of.

There also are chapters about my favourite error handling, security and versioning, but they are shallow. What they say is that there is an XML in which you can configure everything. It is right there in a deep dark directory.

2. Screenshots.

Those are of the useless sort, where a shot of a maximized window takes half a page, the screen fonts are too small to be read, and you only need a single tiny button anyway, which is circled. And the text caption says something like "fill in the required information in all the fields and click save".

3. Guidelines.

Those are advices from the field experience, but given that the book does not talk about practical issues anyway, those advices come void. There is no structure, no reason why they are here. Out of the blue comes "and never do this !" What ? Why ?

A concluding quote from page 5:

Now that you are the proud owner of a Packt book, ...

Please, let me decide whether or not I'm proud, don't declare it before I've even read the book.

The book lives to its promise but just barely, therefore 3 out of 5.