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Have you heard about Lift, a Scala web framework ? If no, there is a fast way to introduce yourself with that state-of-the-art technology through Apress The Definitive Guide to Lift. The book is written by three of the principal committers on Lift, Derek Chen-Becker, Marius Danciu and Tyler Weir and it summarizes the current state of Lift.
Lift is designed to provide a simple and flexible, yet powerful web framework. It adopts some concepts introduced by existing frameworks, such as:
* Seaside's highly granular sessions and security
* Rails fast flash-to-bang
* Django's "more than just CRUD is included"
* Wicket's designer-friendly templating style
The framework stresses the importance of security, maintainability, scalability and performance, while allowing for high levels of developer productivity.
The Definitive Guide to Lift is structured into 13 chapters. It covers a lot of ground in a relatively short space. It starts, in chapter 1, with gentle introduction to the subject, followed by a discussion on how to build a simple Lift app in chapter 2. This is the essential part of the book which allows to get the feel of the framework. Afterwards there is a series of complementary chapters which more or less dive into details of what was cover in chapter 2. Later chapters provide a quick look at additional features such as support for building JavaScript expressions inside server side code, simplification of use of AJAX and Comet techniques to build more dynamic web application or how to provide an API using Web Services. Lastly the book describes possible Lift integrations, namely with Java Persistence API, OpenID, AMQP, Facebook, XMPP, PayPal.
The book should be considered as a look at the current state of the framework. I wouldn't call it a definitive guide. Authors often present a set of alternative approaches to the problem. That way it was difficult for any guideline or best practices to emerge which furthermore in my opinion differentiates a good guide from a reference book.
The writing is good, sometimes too concise. A reader should be familiar and comfortable with functional programming concepts. Scala knowledge is not required, but surely will help. The typography is fine, although code listings seem a bit odd as if they were included in hurry (e.g. no line numbers). A big flaw is a missing appendix which is referenced through the book. There is no index or listings table neither.
Overall I find the book pretty instructive. It can be a good starting point as well as a reference to the subject.

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