Simon P. Chappell writes "The Eclipse IDE has thundered into the collective consciousness of Java developers since its release by IBM as Open Source Software. Up until this time, the majority of available documentation at the Eclipse website has been for plug-in developers, with scant attention given to the rest of us that actually want to use the tool for anything else. This book restores the balance and brings much needed help to those interested in this IDE." Read on for the rest of Simon's review, about which he says "Full Disclosure: I received a free, review copy of this book, so feel free to assume that I've been bought off and have traded my technical integrity to put about an inch of dead tree on my shelf."
OverviewWith a book like this it's difficult to know where to pitch the level. Do you aim for the lowest common denominator or do you assume some experience on the part of your reader? This book seems to have pitched itself well, not pandering to the absolute Java newbie, not afraid to get down into the code and yet gentle enough that newer Java developers can follow easily. The heavyweight chapter on writing plug-ins is at the back where it shouldn't frighten those of a sensitive nature.
The book is divided into two sections. The first and largest section concerns actual use of Eclipse during Java application development. The second section is for those who wish to write plug-ins for Eclipse.
The book takes a very 'Test Driven Development' approach to Java development and this shows in the manner that Eclipse is presented and taught. Emphasis is given to the tools that come with Eclipse, especially Ant, Junit and the CVS client. For those already skilled in these tools, this might seem like filler, but remember that there are still pitifully few Java developers using even these simple and free tools. My hat is off to the authors for their TDD evangelism, skillfully disguised as Eclipse usage instruction.
What's To LikeI liked the progression followed in the book, first teaching the basic operation of Eclipse and then moving on to the tools that come with the base install.
What's To ConsiderSome may consider that the material on Ant, Junit and CVS is filler. The 'Test Driven Development' theme may be a little too much evangelism for some.
I use Eclipse on a Mac OS X box and I felt that there was very little discussion concerning the cross-platform attributes of the tool. All of the screenshots were from a Microsoft Windows build of the software; a Linux or OS X screenshot would have been helpful.
One more niggle and then I'm done. There is no information on using Eclipse with other programming languages (a couple of paragraphs in the introduction chapter doesn't really count). I've recently started tinkering with Ruby and have used a Ruby plug-in to allow me to work within Eclipse as I learn the language. This is a wonderful testament to the power and extensibility of Eclipse.
SummaryThis is a good book. You know it's a good book when you already use the tool (both pure Eclipse and IBM's WSAD) regularly and you find yourself learning things that you had not previously been aware of. If you are working with Java and want a good free IDE that's going to grow with you, then Eclipse is a tool you should try -- and consider this book the User's Guide that would have been in the box if Eclipse came shrink-wrapped.
Table Of Contents
- Using Eclipse
- Getting started with the Eclipse Workbench
- The Java development cycle: test, code, repeat
- Working with source code in eclipse
- Building with Ant
- Source control with CVS
- Web development tools
- Extending Eclipse
- Introduction to Eclipse plug-ins
- Working with plug-ins in Eclipse
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