2013-10-26

A new book - Instant Apache Camel Messaging System

Its great to see the Camel community goes from strength to strength over the years. And this year there is three new books being published.

One of the books is titled - Instant Apache Camel Messaging System, by Evgeniy Sharapov. Published by Packt publishing in September 2013.


This week I had the pleasure of reading the book. Its a short book with 78 pages (111 on my iPad mini) and I was able to read it in two evenings. I enjoyed reading the book as it was well written, the english language and grammar is spot on, and there is a "red line" that takes you through the content, with nice transitions from one section to the next.

This book covers the following topics
  1. What is Apache Camel
  2. Installation
  3. Quickstart creating your first Camel project
  4. Top 6 features
  5. Where to find more information in the community

Ad 1 - What is Apache Camel

The book explains what Apache Camel is in 4 pages. It is a good attempt, but I would liked to see more details, and a figure to better explains the relationship with Camel, Components, Routes, and EIPs.

Ad 2 - Installation

Installing Apache Camel is focused primary on using Apache Maven as the built tool, and this book, covers how to create a new generic Maven project from the command line, and then how to add Camel dependencies, and prepare the project for Eclipse or IDEA editors. Though the author also covers how to manually download and unzip the Apache Camel distribution and how to add JARs to your project.
Along the way in the book there is small screenshots of the example project structure and code listings of the Maven pom.xml file and other important pieces to highlight. The author has done a great job striking a balance to the reader so he can easily follow what is going on. I really like its the same example that is used throughout the book, and is being modified on the way, as Camel's functionality is unlocked.
I would have liked to see how to create new projects without the command-line such as from the wizards built-in Eclipse. That is easier today as Maven is provided out of the box in Eclipse.

Also mentioning about the Camel Maven archetypes would have been good. 

Ad 3 - Quickstart

In the quickstart chapter we develop a small Camel application that logs a message to the logger, using a Camel route. The content is good and I like there is a screenshot figure of running the application, which shows the reader what happens.

The book also goes a bit deeper explaining what CamelContext, and RouteBuilder is. And how the quickstart application works. 

Ad 4 - Top 6 features

This chapter is covering 6 must-know features - though unfortunately the author does not summarize which 6 features that would be. 

What is covered is:
- Some Camel concepts such what is a Message / Exchange
- Using Camel Main support
- Testing Camel applications with and without Spring
- Routing with Java and XML DSL
- Transformations
- and very briefly talks about EIPs (frankly to short)

This is the big and main chapter of the book, that uses the same example which we then add functionality on the way - this is very good. Later in the chapter a new real-life example is being covered about custom document declarations. This is a very good example, and the reader learns how to use content based routing, xpath and java predicates, xslt transformation, using JAXB, and how to write Camel type converters, and a little bit about JMS, and how to put  that together and unit test as well. The reader is also shown how to build unit tests, and touching how to advice the routes during testing to mock/replace parts making unit testing in isolation easier.

There is a few minor information that could have been updated. When you write a custom Camel type converter, you should use the fully qualified classname of the type converter classes in the META-INF/.../TypeConverter file. This is what we recommend.
Also writing a custom type converter for XML -> your JAXB object is not needed as just use camel-jaxb and include the jaxb.index file and Camel has a fallback type converter built-in that does this out of the box.

All together a great example that shows more of Camel powers at the time, when the reader is ready to learn more. Very well done by the author.

Ad 5 - More information

The book ends with some details where to find more information, such as other books, and online material on other web sites, user forums such as stackoverflow, and Camel bloggers.

A nice touch but I would have liked to see a bit more detail, as the Camel community is vast, and there is a lot of information out there.


Summary

This is a great book for new users to Apache Camel, who are looking for practical examples how to get started using Apache Camel, who may not be able to find such information in one place. All the information you need to get started with Camel is there at your fingertips, but you have to be prepared for being practical and try the source code of the book. This book is not for experience Camel users, whom already have built a couple of Camel applications.

After reading this book you will be much better prepared to be successful and be able to learn more and use Apache Camel in your day time job.

The information in the book can be found freely available on the internet today, but you will need to jump between content and that would take you a much longer time, than it would be to just purchase this eBook and in a few days be prepared for working with Apache Camel.

The title of the book is misleading, I blame the publisher, for not taking the title serious. There is another book that hit the market with a similar scope and title. Readers are being mislead. This book doesn't cover messaging. Its a beginner/introductory book. Use that in the title! It seems the publisher takes some integration like words and put together at random. What if the title was: Instant Concise Application Messaging Exchange Language (hint) - that would be confusing as well.

A IMHO better title could have been using words like:
  • Get started with Apache Camel
  • Learning Apache Camel
  • Practical Apache Camel 
  • Beginning Apache Camel
Though possible could be more creative with the title, and maybe something like: Instant learn using Apache Camel in 2 days.

Okay besides the title, the book is only for new users, but its a great book.

Rating: **** (4 out of 5) based on being a highlight practical book for new Camel users, that is easy and fun to read. After reading the book you have a feeling to learn more, and wished the book had more pages. 

What's next

Along the way you may want to read these freely available information as well. They explain what Apache Camel is in more detail, and also goes more in deep with the Camel concepts with is important to know. 


If you intended to go on using Apache Camel, then you may want to pickup another books that goes much more in depth what Apache Camel can do. Today on the market there is:

- Apache Camel developers handbook (to be published later this year)

Disclaimer: I am co-author of the Camel in Action book.

And I end this blog by congratulating Evgeniy Sharapov for authoring a great Apache Camel beginner book, that is a joy to read. You sure have flair and talent for writing. Hope this is not the last book from your hands.



No comments: