Sunday, April 1, 2012

XPages Portable Command Guide: a review

However, there are what I would consider to be two design faults for what is supposed to be an all-out reference book. And note these are design, not content faults.

The first is that the pages are headed from the current section only, no chapter headings. So as you flick through it, you have no idea which chapter you are in, so finding thing means first referencing the contents, to find the page number. But then finding by page number negates the value of the section heading on the page.

Personally, I'd have liked the chapter number on the page heading as well -- maybe the chapter heading on the left page and the section heading on the right page would have made a better layout.

The second fault is that there's little space on the pages to add you own notes and annotations. There are some blank pages before the index for you to make notes, but often you need to annotate on the page (ever seen a serious cook's recipe books?), and there just isn't enough space on the pages to do this.

You're going to end up with yellow stickies poking out of the book all over to contain your notes and references to useful pages.

Actually, that reminds me of a third fault: the book is a perfect bound paperback, which means that it won't lie open flat in either Chapters One or Six until you've crushed the spine -- after which, pages will start to fall out!

Maybe this is one of those books that you need two copies of, or need to have in both formats. A working copy to keep beside you, one that's been opened flat till the spine has broken, and covered in annotations, and a second decent copy on the shelf, for more relaxed referencing.

DominoPower's rating for the XPages Portable Command Guide

I can't give it a 5 -- perfection, or close to it -- because the design faults prevent that.

To be honest, I can't tell if the content is worth a 5 either because, for a reference book, you don't know until you've actually used it in anger, on an XPages project, where you need the knowledge that's in it, and can find and use it easily and quickly.

But I can say that the bits that I've read are readable and informative, and I have learned from it while scanning over it to write this review. If I hadn't been given a copy by IBM Press for this review, I'd have blagged one off of someone, or failing that, actually bought a copy!

I think any XPages developer needs to be able to lay their hands on this information, but that does beg the question as to whether the information in it should not have been part of the product set, though, and not a $35-dollar purchase.

We rate the XPages Portable Command Guide by Donnelly, Kehoe, McGuckin, O'Connor and publised by IBM Press at a 4-out-of-5.