Apache OFBiz Development
The Beginner's Tutorial
by Jonathon Wong and Rupert Howell
Packt Publishing (Official book website)
About 2 months ago, I was sent a review copy of "Apache OFBiz Development", and have been trying to find time since then to do a review of it. I was also sent a PDF of Chapter 10, which you can read here.
For those of you who listen to FeatherCast, you may remember hearing an episode on OFBiz that we did back in December 2006. A lot has changed since then, including OFBiz becoming a TLP within the Apache Software Foundation. TLP stands for Top Level Project, and refers to the status that a project obtains when it is no longer under the supervision of the Incubator.
OFBiz is an Open Source framework for developing ERP and CRM systems. If you don't know what ERP and CRM are, or if you don't have at least a decent knowledge of Java programming, OFBiz probably isn't for you. And, for that matter, this book probably isn't. Although titled "The Beginner's Tutorial", keep in mind as you read that it's referring to being a beginner at OFBiz, not a beginner to these other concepts.
The book dives right in to installing OFBiz from SVN. It's pretty clear from this chapter that installing and configuring OFBiz is not for the faint of heart. As soon as Chapter 3, we're being shown how to make modifications to the core OFBiz source code, and given recommendations about keeping track of these for future upgrades.
Although a certain familiarity with the MVC development methodology is useful, chapter 2 covers the rudiments, and discusses OFBiz's take on it.
After a couple chapters of nitty gritty stuff, the book settles into an example/solution tutorial, and is very effective in presenting practical, hands-on scenarios that demonstrate how the system woks, and how to get real results from it. As a side-note, every time I see OFBiz in action, I'm enormously surprised at how sophisticated it is, and how much work has obviously gone into it.
Through the course of the rest of the book, example applications are built, and you can immediately begin to see the fruit of your knowledge. The prose is conversational, but direct and to the point, getting straight to the implementation details.
Chapter 14 covers a variety of useful debugging techniques, from the log files to using a full debugger - very valuable content for someone new to this stuff.
On the whole, I found this book to be an enormously helpful introduction to OFBiz development. While I admit that I'm probably not the target audience for the book, since my development is somewhat outside of the scope of this project, I was able to quickly understand the purpose of OFBiz, and see how it can be made useful.