Maven The complete reference

This review is about Sonatype’s Maven: The complete reference by Tim O’Brien, John Casey, Brian Fox, Jason Van Zyl, Eric Redmond and Larry Shatzer.

Disclaimer: I learned Maven from Sonatype’s site 3 years ago. I found it was a great tool to learn Maven. Now that I have a little more experience in the tool, I tried to write this review in an objective manner.


  1. 13 chapters, 267 pages, free (see below)
  2. This book is intended for both readers who wants to learn Maven from scratch and for readers who need to look for a quick help on an obscure feature
  3. A whole chapter is dedicated to the Maven assembly plugin
  4. Another chapter is dedicated to Flexmojos, a Sonatype plugin to manage Flex projects


  1. First of all, this book is 100% free to view and to download. This is rare enough to be stated!
  2. Complete reference books are sometimes a mere paraphrase of a product’s documentation. This one is not. I do not claim I’m a Maven expert but I did learn things in here
  3. This book is up-to-date with Maven 2.2. For example, it explains password encryption (available since Maven 2.1.0) or how to configure plugins called from the command line differently using default-cli (since Maven 2.2.0)
  4. A very interesting point is a list of some (all?) JEE API released by the Geronimo project and referenced by groupId and artifactId. If you frown because the point is lost on you, just try using classes from activation.jar (javax.activation:activation): you’ll never be able to let Maven download it for you since it is not available in the first place for licensing reasons. Having an alternative from Geronimo is good, knowing what is available thanks to the book is better


To be frank, I only found a problem with Maven: The complete reference. Although a whole chapter is written on the Maven Assembly plugin, I understood nothing from it…​ The rest of the book is crystal clear, this chapter only obfuscated the few things I thought I knew about the plugin.


This book is top quality and free: what can I say? If you’re a beginner in Maven, you’ll find a real stable base to learn from. If you need to update your knowledge, you will find a wealth of information. If you’re a Maven guru, please contribute to the Assembly plugin’s chapter. I can only give a warm thank you for Sonatype’s effort for giving this quality book to the community.

Nicolas Fränkel

Nicolas Fränkel

Developer Advocate with 15+ years experience consulting for many different customers, in a wide range of contexts (such as telecoms, banking, insurances, large retail and public sector). Usually working on Java/Java EE and Spring technologies, but with focused interests like Rich Internet Applications, Testing, CI/CD and DevOps. Also double as a trainer and triples as a book author.

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