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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Struts: The Complete Reference (Osborne Complete Reference Series)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: James Holmes
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great book, excellent for reference


I've been a long time user of James' Struts Console software so when I found out he was writing a book on Struts I pre-ordered it to show my appreciation for all of his work that goes into creating the Console for free. The book turns out to be a great reference and I keep it on my desk to look things up.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Enterprise JavaBeans, Fourth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Richard Monson-Haefel, Bill Burke, Sacha Labourey
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The EJB bible


The best book. Covers everything you need to know about EJB.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sonet/SDH Third Edition
Publisher: Osborne/McGraw-Hill
Authors: Walter Goralski
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Don't buy e-books...


As an author of technical books myself, I am always looking for titles that tell the story of a particular technology in a comprehensive, clearly-written and standards-oriented fashion. Walter Goralski's books do this and do it well. I own all of his titles, and the reason I like them (besides the author's sense of humor) is the fact that they are written around the standards that govern the telecommunications industry. Many companies interpret the standards and the terminology in different ways, which is fine - that's how they are designed. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to differences of opinion about meanings or interpretations. Walter sticks to the standards, however, always ensuring the availability of a literary technological benchmark.
I strongly recommend the book.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: OpenGL(R) Shading Language
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Randi J. Rost
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Future of OpenGL Programming


In the 1970s, vector-based graphics gave way to raster graphics, and several raster algorithms demonstrated the new technology's ability to produce breathtaking images. Unfortunately, accelerating these algorithms in hardware proved difficult and costly.
Recently, programmable graphics hardware capable of rendering such algorithms in realtime has become inexpensive and widely available. The result-a small handful of proprietary shading languages created and proposed as standards for this new industry.
OpenGL Shading Language by Randi Rost (Addison-Wesley, 458 pages) describes the OpenGL Shading Language, the first shading language designed as a cross-platform open standard by a group of graphics hardware and software vendors.
The author is a veteran of the computer graphics industry. Rost started programming graphics on an Apple II in the late 1970s. He was working on programmable graphics hardware as early as 1983, when programmable graphics hardware meant little more than a framebuffer with a microcode interface.
Graphics hardware has advanced dramatically since then and continues to advance rapidly today. Most modern 3D hardware supports some type of programmable interface, and should support the Architectural Review Board (ARB)-approved OpenGL Shading Language in the near future. "We think the hardware designs are moving quite rapidly," said Rost. "It should only be a generation or two before all OpenGL hardware vendors fully support the OpenGL Shading Language."
The first chapter is a whirlwind overview of OpenGL. You might be tempted to skip this chapter. But before you do, consider that the author is one of only a few who have contributed to every major revision of OpenGL-who better to learn from? If you're a beginner or intermediate OpenGL programmer, you'll certainly learn something in this brief review.
Chapters 2 through 7 introduce the reader to the OpenGL Shading Language, covering topics such as language semantics, built-in functions, and OpenGL entry points for specifying shaders.
Chapter 8 discusses shader development and performance issues. As you might expect from a book on a shading language, much of the performance discussion concerns shaving cycles from vertex- and pixel-shaders. The information is practical and not obvious even to intermediate programmers, such as using min() or max() instead of clamp() when you know the variable will only exceed one end of a range. However, I found little discussion on how a developer might determine which stage of the rendering pipeline is the performance bottleneck. Since this subject is considered black magic by many young and enthusiastic graphics developers, Rost could have added value to his book with a short section on this subject.
In programming, a few lines of code are worth a thousand words. Rost demonstrates this principle in chapter 9 where he provides shader listings for implementing core OpenGL functionality. The OpenGL Specification is the ultimate definition of OpenGL internal functionality, but the spec is mostly text and formulas, with only a few code listings. A programmer can quickly learn what OpenGL is doing under the hood by reading through the listings in chapter 9. These well-written, concise, and efficient examples of shader code are both illuminating and instructive.
Chapters 10 through 16 provide the computer graphics developer with real-time working OpenGL Shading Language source code for implementing several major computer graphics algorithms and techniques from the past 25 years. Topic areas include lighting, Phong shading, texture mapping, bump mapping, multi-texturing, procedural texture mapping, lattice shaders, noise, turbulence, shadows, animation, particle systems, antialiasing, hatching and other non-photorealistic techniques, vertex and image blending, image convolution, and many more.
These examples demonstrate the range of OpenGL Shading Language applications, and give developers a basis for writing new shaders. Rost's explanations of the algorithms are easy to read and comprehend, and demonstrate the depth and breadth of knowledge he has accumulated during his 25-year career in graphics.
"Designing and implementing programmable graphics hardware and a compiler for the OpenGL Shading Language required a lot of hard work by everyone involved," said Rost. "But with those pieces in place, it turned out to be remarkably easy to write shaders for a variety of interesting shading tasks. When we got these shaders working for the first time, it was a jaw-dropping experience."
Conspicuously missing is any mention of global illumination algorithms such as ray tracing and radiosity. Such scene-based algorithms present obvious challenges to vertex- and pixel-based shading languages. Rost confessed they have a rough ray-tracing demo that was not ready for publication when this book went to press. He expressed optimism about the OpenGL Shading Language's ability to accelerate programs of this type. "In future revisions of hardware, we'll be able to implement more interesting algorithms [than currently appear in this book]."
While reading OpenGL Shading Language, I often found myself noting similarities and differences between the OpenGL Shading Language and interfaces to other programmable graphics hardware I've used. The book's final chapter covers this topic by comparing and contrasting the OpenGL Shading Language to current commercial shading languages, such as RenderMan, ISL, HLSL, and Cg.
Two appendices serve as useful reference material. Appendix A covers OpenGL Shading Language grammar, and Appendix B documents OpenGL entry points for creating and managing shaders. The book also contains an index, a glossary, an extensive bibliography, and several diagrams and color images.
In general, the computer industry often provides two solutions, one proprietary and the other an open standard. As the only open standard shading language available that is designed for modern graphics hardware, the OpenGL Shading Language is certain to be around for several years to come. OpenGL Shading Language stands on its own as both a programming guide and reference manual for this significant new industry standard.
However, this book goes further by providing real-time examples of classic computer graphics techniques. OpenGL Shading Language is a must-have algorithm book that should be on every computer graphics developer's bookshelf.