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 Book Review: Programming with VisiBroker
See Also: Dr.Bob's Programming Books for Delphi & C++Builder books co-authored by Bob Swart
Programming with VisiBroker
Vijaykumar Natarajan, Stefan Reich, Bhaskar Vasudevan
544 pages (no CD-ROM)

The second edition of Programming with VisiBroker (A Developer's Guide to VisiBroker for Java) is again written by people from the VisiBroker development team at Borland (at the time of writing still called Inprise), and this shows. The book is not just a shallow coverage of CORBA, but contains true in-depth VisiBroker knowledge and practical Java examples from the guys who made it work in the first place.
Compared to the first edition, new topics covered in this edition include migrating VisiBroker 3 to version 4 (for Java); the Portable Object Adaptor; implementing the Objects by Value feature; the VisiBroker Interface Repository; Dynamic Programming APIs for use with scripting; etc.

The book consists of three parts and two appendices. The first part contains five chapters that give an introduction to CORBA (not specifically for VisiBroker). At 100 pages, this part is kept a bit brief at times, probably because the reader is assumed to have some pre-knowledge or experience (it certainly helps).
The second part of the book is almost twice as thick and covers specific VisiBroker clients and server programming techniques. Any serious VisiBroker programmer should read this to learn how to use the VisiBroker for Java, work with the IDL generated types, implement and deploying servers as well as clients, and finally learn how to use the VisiBroker Gatekeeper. In my view, this is the most valuable part of the book, and truly shows how to use and deploy the power of VisiBroker.
The third part of the book is about the same size as the second part, but goes far more in-depth. This is the place were real complex features are covered such as CORBA services (the VisiBroker naming and event services), specific advantages of using the POA (Portable Object Adapter), the handy interface repository, and ORB interoperability.

Throughout the book, there are many source code snippets. Fortunately, they are short enough to make them readable and to the point (including comments where necessary). Also, when needed, the book contains figures or some screenshots (not many, but enough to be helpful without turning the book into a comic).

The appendices contain a list of VisiBroker for Java interfaces, properties, commands and utilities. A useful quick reference that does come in handy when you need it. There is also a companion website were you can find the source code examples (the book has no CDROM) and future errata for the book (currently none).

I have seldom see a CORBA book with this much practical information. And when it comes to a VisiBroker book, this is the one you should have! My only wish is that the authors will consider a VisiBroker for C++ (or for Delphi) book as well in the near future, but I guess you can't win them all.

(Bob Swart)

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