I had been doing commercial JSP and Servlets programming for over a year when I got hold of this book. I have read it from cover to cover and attempted all of the questions and I am very impressed. Certification exams have a reputation for covering obscure details of the target technology but I found myself learning things that would have significantly improved my existing code and will definitely go into future systems.
Although it is aimed at the Web Component Developer exam it would make a good general JSP book. An example of this came up recently when I was trying to include one file inside another in order to make my pages more modular. The jsp system has two ways of including other files, one described as static and the other described as dynamic. I knew my understanding of the difference was a little shaky an this book gave an easily understandable and concise explanation of the difference, including a good diagram of what happens in terms of code translation and output to the browser.
With only two authors the book has a consistency of voice which I would call dry and factual. There are no jokes or distractions in this book, just the facts maa'm, just the facts. The code samples are short and easy to understand, there is no attempt to give examples that would build into real applications, just enough code to illustrate the point under discussion. Many posters at the JavaRanch discussion forum have reported finding this book extremely useful for taking and passing the Web Component Developer exam.
It keeps closely to the objectives and the questions are well structured and relevant. If a topic is central to JSP technology but not covered by the Web component developer exam it makes it clear that the information is only included for completeness. An example of this is Chapter 18, filters which is an important new JSP technology but not on the exam. The people who wrote it are behind a commercial exam simulator (JWebPlus) and I suspect that the feedback they received from that has helped create such good quality questions and associated text. The proof reading, layout and accuracy is very good. The entire text of the book is included in pdf format with the included CD. Although it is horrible to read a book from the screen, it is very useful to be able to do a complete search of the text. The CD also contains a copy of tomcat4 and the JwebPlus exam simulator with 3 entire sample exams.
If you are less experienced with JSP/Servlets you will find the book starts gently and builds up, without assuming an in-depth knowledge. You will of course need to know about Java before you start. My copy of this book is now well thumbed and "dog eared" and am confident it will get even more grubby and well handled in the future. That's the sign of a good book.
Marcus Green November 2002