|HTTP Developer's Handbook|
|rating||6 - Serious flaws|
|summary||Mixed volume with fair look at HTTP protocol|
One of the strangest feelings I've ever had reading a book is that I have a better opinion of it than does the author. Shiflett spends most of the introduction convincing the reader that this is a useful book and it seems that the start of most chapters is another few sentences telling me why the chapter is incredibly useful for me to read. I felt like yelling "I'm convinced, I'm convinced."
The book is broken up into 6 parts: 'Introducing HTTP,' 'HTTP Definition,' 'Maintaining State,' 'Performance,' 'Security,' and 'Evolution of HTTP.'
The first section and a large part of the introduction are the sort of information that is covered elsewhere in just as good a detail: it basically covers the obvious. The second section covers the HTTP protocol itself, with a good discussion of requests and responses, including all the nitty gritty details of the headers in some detail. This is the really useful heart of the book and it covers 80 of the 280 pages. The third, fourth and fifth sections give a too-concise look at their subject matter, I felt the book could have given much more detail here. The last section is a waste of space; in this volume I don't really need to have a small amount of information about SOAP and XML-RPC.
This book is well-written; I believe its two fatal flaws are that Shiflett seems unsure of his own book and that the book itself tries to offer everything for a developer while explaining it all for the newcomer. I think that had Shiflett given up on the newcomer and given the developer greater depth (with a lot more examples) he would have delivered a much better book. For a developer, the volume is much too light on example code, the book is not really 'practical,' more 'informative.'
This might be a good volume for a library, either a corporate or school library. It provides the salient information in one spot in a concise and readable manner. I think that an individual might find it a less than totally useful book for the money -- you're likely to have already have a volume or two that covers most of the information, and with most languages in web development having libraries that take care of most of the low-level stuff for you, it becomes less and less necessary to really understand the bottom level. Personally, I'll keep it for the 80 page section on the HTTP definition so I have it all in one spot.
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