“Spring Data. Modern Data Access for Enterprise Java” (Book Review)

Spring Data is a relatively young set of tools that seems to be quickly gaining popularity. I got introduced to it by Oliver Gierke at 33rd Degree Conference and immediately got really interested (not to say fell in love).

Spring Data is an elegant combination of tools for almost uniform access to various data stores (JDBC, JPA, MongoDB, Neo4j, Redis and others). It has a very slick way to generate queries automatically (even from method names on repository interfaces), with support for paging and sorting as well as auto-generated CRUD.

It makes it very easy to expose repositories on the web via a REST API (and I mean REST, with HATEOAS in the box). In fact, sometimes all you need is to provide entity mapping (e.g. JPA, but there are ways to do similar things with NoSQL stores) and write the repository interface with the right set of annotations. That can be all you need to get a basic REST data service up and running!

Of course you can mix and match or bring more power in. Write your own queries when you need it. Use the repository as data access layer for a “thicker” business layer. Use whatever other Spring tools you like.

The book itself is really well written. It quickly explains the basic ideas behind the data access API. It starts on familiar ground and shows a new way to solve old annoying problems, demonstrating new, streamlined ways to deal with JPA and JDBC repositories. It also offers a new way to write typesafe queries with all the benefits of IDE support: Querydsl.

Then it shows how you can use most of the same API for NoSQL stores, including MongoDB, Neo4j and Redis. Each of those chapters starts with an introduction to the store itself (what it is, what it’s good for). Then it shows how you can use the Spring Data API for, pardon me, Object-NoSQL mapping and writing repositories and queries. As it progresses it gradually dives deeper in the technical details.

Next section is devoted to rapid application development. It features Spring Roo (which I’m not much interested in, not being a fan of codegen) and the REST repository explorer. The latter is a true gem and worth attention on its own. This chapter is also a very good demonstration of (introduction to?) a complete REST API with hyperlinks, CRUD, search, relationships between resources etc.

Towards the end of the book there are also 3 chapters on Hadoop. The final chapter is devoted to GemFire, a distributed data grid.

Spring Data is definitely worth a close look, and this book is a perfect resource to get started. Authors had a very good plan on what they wanted to say and executed it perfectly. The language is fairly light, clear and easy to follow. The examples are interesting, simple and concise at the same time. Very easy to understand, but not simplistic – they demonstrate the underlying power and do a good job of exposing all the gory details. You get to see a fairly wide and reasonably deep view of the framework.

What else could you possibly want from a technical book? Oh yes, and it has a squirrel on the cover!

Many thanks to Oliver for a copy of the book.

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