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Title: Smart Card Handbook 2nd ed

Review Date: November 2001
Author: Rankel & Effing
Pub: Wiley
ISBN: 0-471-98875-8
Cover: Hard
Pages: 746
Keywords: Smart card
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
Source: - direct from publisher

When I reviewed the last edition (English 1st ed, German 2nd Ed) I said "… simple enough for beginners, comprehensive enough for developers… it's THE technical smart card handbook against all others will be measured". Well I was given a copy of the 2nd (English, 3rd German) edition and all I can say is the best just got better. We nearly did not get it at all though. The first edition was in German, the second was translated in the English (as a 1st edition) and when the author's did the third German edition it nearly did not get translated into an English 3rd edition. Fortunately, it has now been translated.


At 750 pages this edition is nearly twice the size of the last one. What has changed? Basically not a great deal other than more depth and detail over a wider range. Of course, it has also been revised where things have changed. As any one in the smart card industry knows you must work to the standards and every bit if the smart card world is regulated by unreadable standards. This book is the commentary and explanation on the standards. I still tend to resort to this book before I look at 7816.


I took the book with me to a small sub-contract development team one afternoon. Fifteen minutes with this book solved a problem that they have been working on for a couple of days. As they say it is easy when it is explained to you. This book has the explanations.


The book not only covers the usual 7816 the commands and protocols but also the physical and electrical properties, cryptography and key management, contact-les cards, production and test and even terminals. There is not a line of source code in it but there is a simulator and other information that is available from the author's web site.


For small development teams and those new to smart cards there is a comprehensive set of appendices. Listing not only the commands, but, all the standards, the tools (and providers) in fact all the contacts you could wish for. There is also a list of the most common smart card specs and their manufacturers.


Last review I said:- "… simple enough for beginners, comprehensive enough for developers….. It's THE technical smart card handbook against all others will be measured It still is but the standard has got a lot higher. If you work with smart cards: Buy it! Highly recommended.