Starting a New Java Project is Deplorable

As I have recently decided to seek new employment, I have begun reintroducing myself with several of the key Java libraries. I have been asked for my experience with Spring, Struts, Hibernate, EJBs (3.0), JSP, HTML, and AJAX. With the exception of Spring and AJAX, I have experience with all of these tools and frameworks. Unfortunately, all of the APIs move. So, I need to do a simple refresher.

This turns out to be immensly difficult where Java is concerned. I find it is best to use a project to learn the ins and outs of a given technology. A project in java requires a lot of scaffolding to get going: build scripts, test runner, deployment scripts, etc. This inevitibly leads to using Maven 2 combined with it's archetype plugin.  Which, for reasons that escape me, always leads to a project that is 90% the way to a usable build.  

What I really want is a project that is immediately useful with a packaged set of best practice tools to learn the tech.  It seems to me that the people who are developing frameworks, libraries, and tools, are the ideal people to create this popup project.  Is Maven a barrier to this sort of idea?


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