Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[Review] Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack 11gR1: Essentials

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was reading a recently published book from Packt titled Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack 11gR1: Essentials.

I won't lie. This book is not perfect. But to be fair, 250 pages is not even close to explain the vast and complicated beast called Oracle AIA. It's very difficult to get a grasp on the Oracle AIA Foundation Pack, and years ago when I first started getting into it, I'd have to read and reread the Oracle documentation and have colleagues explain specific details to me. It wasn't easy.

Unfortunately, times haven't changed much. You literally have only 3 options out there if you want to learn about Oracle AIA:
  1. Oracle Fusion Middleware Concepts and Technologies Guide for Oracle Application Integration Architecture Foundation Pack 11g Release 1  <-- Oracle documentation
  2. Oracle Fusion Middleware Developer's Guide for Oracle Application Integration Architecture Foundation Pack 11g Release 1  <-- Oracle documentation
  3. Oracle Application Integration Architecture (AIA) Foundation Pack 11gR1: Essentials  <-- This book
After reading the book, I learned later that it very loosely mimicked the topics covered under Oracle's Concepts and Technologies Guide. I tend to be wary of such books because they end up rehashing what's already out there.

Let me be clear. This book is better than the Oracle's Concept and Technologies Guide. Much better.

The overview covers design patterns and SOA concepts before introducing actual AIA concepts, and many of the areas covered in Oracle's Concept and Technologies Guide are described here in much more detail. The author does a better job explaining EBOs, custom EBOs, EBMs, EBM headers, EBSs, etc. In fact, he does a pretty good job describing versioning, security, and CAVS much better than Oracle's documentation, particularly to those with little to no experience with AIA. I was able to understand certain specifics about each of these that I never got from Oracle's documentation.

However, it's somewhat easy to get lost if you don't have some prior understanding of Oracle AIA. At times, the book seemed more like a reference guide. A few of the step-by-step walkthroughs require a comfortable understanding of SOA concepts and Oracle SOA Suite and assume you can fill in the blanks on your own. Part of my problem with the book has nothing to do with the content, but with the Packt Publishing template. Header 2's and Header 3's are nearly identical in size that it's practically impossible to tell whether we've jumped into a new section or not.

Can you tell what is a header 2 and what is a header 3?

Final Thoughts

This book appears to be intended for the experienced Oracle SOA Suite developer who has a decent enough understanding of SOA concepts as well as some basic understanding of what Oracle AIA Foundation Pack offers. At times, it's introductory in nature. At other times, it's quite complex that only a seasoned developer can understand. Between the concepts, reference like sections, and walkthrough examples, it's sometimes difficult for the book to maintain a consistent style. AIA, however, is tough to grasp for the newbie. The book somewhat succeeds in explaining concepts, examples, and tools of the product. It's definitely not intended for the inexperienced SOA developer.

On the other hand, this is probably the best Oracle AIA Foundation Pack concepts guide out there, and like me, you'll probably appreciate it once/if you decide to refer back to the Oracle documentation. Like I said above, this book is not perfect. But no book really is.


Ahmed Aboulnaga

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