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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review - Django 1.1 Testing and Debugging

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, Packt Publishing.

This time I will be taking a look at "Django 1.1 Testing and Debugging" by Karen M. Tracey, PhD. There is a sample chapter available for those interested. The book has been clearly oriented towards those that are already familiar with Django and wish to enhance their skills further. During the book a simple survey application will be constructed. It is used to highlight several techniques along the way.

I will summarize my main findings next using "the good, the bad, the ugly" model to keep the review brief and compact. Let's see how this review format works out. :)

The good:
  • Fluent writing.
  • Valuable information, especially on deployment. I wish there had been more information about that particular subject.
  • Debug part (especially debug toolbar and pdb). To get some idea of this, take a look at these two articles: [1] [2]
  • Very few errata (I spotted just three).
The bad:
  •  A bit uneven at times. Especially part of chapter discussing how to get outside help felt a bit redundant (ok, perhaps it's good information for those new to OSS).
  • Not a word on acceptance testing. Perhaps that went out of the scope of the book but I still would have appreciated broader approach to testing. Also the way several features of the example application were implemented felt a bit backwards to me (perhaps it would have been nicer to use TDD a bit?).
The ugly:
  • The narrative felt a bit tedious at times. I would have preferred more straightforward approach showing possible issues to keep in mind (ie. checklist for deployment, testing).
  • The approach used is a mixed blessing. It's hard to just jump into some specific part of the book without understanding the example case so far. This makes the book less valuable as pure reference. It probably should be treated more as an introduction to the subject.
The book clearly had its highlights. As mentioned above, I'm not entirely sure if the approach chosen is the most fitting possible. It did help to illustrate some possible problems one may encounter during development but I think there were times when a different kind of approach might have worked better.

If you are willing to dig through the book properly, you are bound to find useful techniques to use in daily development. Overall it's a fine effort on a demanding subject and manages to complement the official documentation adequately.