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Book Review: Programming Amazon Web Services

I don’t know if they’re just a more established tech book publishing company, but I usually have a good experience with O’Reilly books.  Programming Amazon Web Services, subtitled S3, EC2, SQS, FPS, and SimpleDB, by James Murty, was great.  5 stars.

I enjoyed this book mainly because I love using Amazon’s web services for recreation and work.  If I didn’t enjoy Amazon’s web services in the first place I probably would have found the book excessively detailed.  In chapter 5 the author writes, “This chapter delves into the nitty-gritty aspects of running a Linux server in EC2,” and he ain’t kidding!  This book really gets down into the API (and this is true for all the services treated in the book, not just EC2).

So if you’re looking to do some casual computing on EC2 or S3, you’d probably be better off without this book.  I’d recommend installing the Firefox plugins for EC2 and S3, and going from there.  Here’s a link (from the web site of a class I took last fall) that will probably be useful to someone in that situation.  On that page you’ll find links to some tutorial pages, and a webcast or two.

On the other hand, if your intention is one of the following:

  • Author a tool similar to the Firefox EC2 plugin.
  • Create complex scripts to manage your EC2 instances or S3 buckets.
  • Write a code library for any of the Amazon web services.
  • Increase your understanding of what’s going on when you use the Firefox plugins.

Then this is the book for you.

That said, this book exposed me to FPS and SimpleDB for the first time (never had a chance to use either).  As far as EC2, S3, and SQS go… I didn’t really learn how to do anything new with them from this book, per se.  But it did significantly increase the depth of my understanding regarding each of these services.  There’s a benefit to depth of knowledge with these kinds of technologies, because I’m sure I’ll encounter a problem in the future that can be solved with these tools, whose solution I might have overlooked before.

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