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My take on different Alfresco books

Question asked by huima on Sep 7, 2010
As I have written in some previous postings, I have been on and off lurker with Alfresco for some time, but only now have been able to actually use Alfresco in real project and suddenly fallen quite in love with Alfresco. For future reference I wanted to write few notes about which books and resources have helped me a lot. During my journey I have been reading and glancing through different book on Alfresco, and thought that my experiences could also help others.

Packt publishing publishes quite good technical books about open source software. Some people hate Packt publishing's books, but I am fan of them for few reasons:

- for many projects documentation is lacking, non existent or outdated

- Packt's books are for me like huge, well edited, tutorial which can get me up to speed faster than trial and error on my own

- books are available also as ebooks, downloaded immediately as PDF

First of all it is important to say that Jeff Potts' Alfresco Developer Guide is by far the best and thorough book for developers - and has so great hand on approach that you will get up and running with core features of the Alfresco platform in no time just by following through chapters of the book. However the hands on approach also means that you are learning by example and might not be getting the 10 000 ft view. This was initially problematic to me, when I wanted to learn Alfresco - but was not keen on jumping deep into development and get hands dirty without real usecases and real project.

On other end of the scale was Alfresco 3 Enterprise Content Management implementation, which is really hands on book from the perspective of using Alfresco's features to create business value to your company by implementing ECM solution with out of the box features. Wanting to know how to configure and use Alfresco Surf or Webclient? Great. Then this book is for you, and in any case you will learn many good tidbits about modifications to the webclient and Surf.

If you are already using Alfresco and want to get to know webservices and web scripts better, then Alfresco 3 Web services could be a good addition to your library.

However if you are looking for a great place to start learning Alfresco, get a 10 000 ft view to it all and then also get a taste of modifications and development, before doing any development - then there is a new kid in the block you have to read. I've been reading Professional Alfresco now only for few hundred or so pages and have been cursing that this book did not exist earlier. My view and take on the subject can be biased - as during my journey I have acquired quite a lot of knowledge already, but at the moment it feels that Professional Alfresco is the best introduction into Alfresco architecture and development. You can't get it as ebook so you will be responsible for few killed trees, but in this case it should be worth it.

Like Jeff Potts said in his review:

"The bottom line is that if you are evaluating Alfresco and are trying to understand the architecture of the platform, or if you are a developer focused on web scripts and Share, you’ll find this book to be a valuable resource."

Spot on!

Professional Alfresco does not replace the need for Jeff's excellent book, but rather gives it great context and complements it.

If you are just starting to work with Alfresco, I would suggest to read Professional Alfresco first, and then diving deeper into Jeff's book. At least for me Professional Alfresco seems to set a lot of things in place and things I have read from other books, from the wiki or from forum postings start to make more sense.

All and all situation for Alfresco documentation and books seem to be quite excellent now. By purchasing Professional Alfresco and Alfresco Developer Guide - and given enough time to soak in the information -  you should get any competent developer up to speed in no time. This should make Alfresco much more accessible to a wider audience and strengthen the adoption of Alfresco inside companies.