By: Steve Holzner
Pub Date: April 2004
- What the Book is About
- Eclipse is an open source, free
and cross platform Integrated Development Environment (IDE) which has grown beyond
its roots as an IBM project to provide an environment for Java development to become
a cutting edge modern platform that supports numerous languages, including Java,
C++ and Python.
Although this book is simply titled "Eclipse," there is a significant addendum
to the cover, "Programming Java Applications". Developers who are looking
for information regarding use of the platform for anything but Java will be well
advised to look elsewhere.
Originally published just over a year ago, this text deals with version 2.1 of Eclipse,
which is now at version 3.0 However, I didn't find the version difference to be
a major hurdle in reading through the book and following the examples.
- Target Audience
- As mentioned above, the readers
best served by this text will be Java programmers. Beyond that, the examples provided
are clear and concise and will be easily followed by any level of programmer, although
some of the concepts introduced do require a bit of knowledge of object oriented
programming (at the least) in order to best understand them.
Although this is a cross-platform application, and instances where different platforms
diverge are identified and explained, the reader is advised that all screen shots
are of the Windows implementation.
- What To Expect
- The book covers the IDE quite
completely and is broken down into appropriate chapters which cover the essentials,
different components, and advanced topics.
The chapters are:
Essential Eclipse - Points the user to the eclipse.org web site to download and install
the IDE, gives an overview of the IDE user interface, and walks the user through
the creation of a simple Java project
Java Development - Goes further in depth on the support found in the IDE for rapid
creation of Java projects
Testing and Debugging - Introduces the JUnit testing framework and demonstrates the
features of the Eclipse debugger
Working in Teams - Source control using Eclipse and Concurrent Versions System (CVS),
which covers source control, versioning, synchronization and patching
Building Eclipse Projects with Ant - Ant is a build tool from the Apache Software
Foundation that can be used for complex builds and distributions. This chapter leads
the reader through the process of using and configuring Ant, which is built into
GUI Programming: From Applets to Swing - Moving away from the support structures
in Eclipse, this chapter demonstrates the creation of GUIs with Java. Applets and
the deprecated AWT are covered, but the brunt of the chapter is devoted to Swing.
Somewhat buried in this chapter is a section on using Eclipse Plug-ins
SWT: Buttons, Text, Labels, Lists, Layouts, and Events - The Standard Widget Toolkit
(SWT) is IBM's successor to Swing, providing platform specific GUI elements. This
chapter introduces the fundamentals of SWT design and is expanded in the chapter
which follows it
Web Development - Using Sun's Tomcat web server, this chapter demonstrates the creation
of Javaserver Pages (JSP) with Eclipse.
One of the most complicated sections, this covers server installation, deployment
and operation, along with the defined task of creating web applications with the
IDE and JSP.
Developing Struts Applications with Eclipse - This chapter continues the previous
one's coverage of web application development, now using Struts, a framework used
for developing J2EE applications, using a Model-View-Controller (MVC) structure.
Because of the complexity of this, the author takes the opportunity to demonstrate
how Eclipse handled compilation dependencies in large projects.
Developing a Plug-in - Being extensible, Eclipse affords the user the ability to
add custom code to handle custom tools, compilers and the like. Two chapters walk
the user through the process of creating such a plug-in.
Eclipse 3.0 - The final chapter provides an overview of the (then) forthcoming version
of Eclipse. This is now the shipping version.
- What stands out most about this
book is the very thorough nature of Holzner's walk throughs of all levels of using
Eclipse. Because the book lacks a CD-ROM (somewhat surprising, given the price,)
the user is left to enter the exercises manually, which adds to the learning experience.
When one looks at Eclipse in comparison to other modern IDEs such as Metrowerks'
CodeWarrior or Microsoft's Visual Studio, one realizes that this is a very complex
system which greatly enhances the Java development experience. Holzner has done
an outstanding job of showing off Eclipse's abilities.
- Mac Guild Grade
- B+ (Great)
- Final Words
- Eclipse may well be the pre-eminent
Java IDE available today, and this is a fantastic introduction for those who need
an exhaustive overview. The "step by step" nature of Holzner's writing
is also very well suited for readers who may utilize this book as a "two for
one" initiation into both Java and Eclipse.
For readers with an interest in Eclipse, but no interest in Java, however, the book's
utility will be much less so. Following the book will certainly make anyone more
familiar with the development environment, but its sole focus on Java will limit
its usefulness to other programmers.