Eclipse IDE Pocket Guide by Ed Burnette ISBN 0-596-10065-5

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, October 2005
Published by: O'Reilly
Requires: Java SDK and Eclipse SDK
MSRP: US$9.95, CA$13.95, UK£6.95

One of the first important decisions when developing in Java is the choice of a suitable integrated development environment (IDE). There are a few outstanding commercial products such as Borland's JBuilder and JetBrains' IntelliJ IDEA. However, two open source IDEs have become popular recently: Eclipse and NetBeans. NetBeans is included in an option when downloading the JDK bundle. Eclipse is gaining popularity because it's designed to accept plug-ins and to support other programming languages.

Eclipse was simply intuitive on its own in its early versions. Recent enhancements to Eclipse have added some complexity. Therefore, Burnette's pocket guide is a welcome resource for the Java community. This book provides a very detailed reference for all the views in the IDE, and their configuration. It also includes all the commands that can be used inside IDE, and links to many online help and Eclipse communities.

The Pocket Guide is designed to help a new Eclipse user get started. The book begins by telling readers how to download and install JDK and Eclipse. Then it describes the workbench and its important subjects, including the editor, the views and the perspectives. Many new Eclipse users are stuck at this step because they cannot start Eclipse, so it might help users if future editions of Pocket Eclipse included some trouble-shooting tips in this section.

After describing the basics, the book provides a quick introduction to starting a Java project and all its details, including creating packages, classes, entering codes, and running the program. Several features of Eclipse IDE are discussed in the book, including its code assist and hover help features when typing codes or moving mouse over codes, its templates, and its refactoring tool. It would be nice to see a future edition include some tips on importing existing projects.

Two topics important to Java development have been included in Pocket Eclipse, including a detailed discussion on running the Java debugger, and a detailed guide to JUnit testing in Eclipse. The book also includes some brief descriptions of several Java development topics that are available in Eclipse. Some of them deserve more discussion (perhaps beyond the scope of a pocket guide), CVS integration, ant automation, and the famous SWT for example. Other topics that are briefly mentioned in the guide include web tools platform, testing and performance, C/C++ development, AspectJ, plug-in development, and some visual plug-ins (visual editor and Rich Client Platform).

There are many Eclipse books in the market, but most of them are unnecessarily thick. The Eclipse IDE Pocket Guide is recommended for Java developers who are new to Eclipse and who do not have time to read other books on the subject. The book's coverage is sufficient to get developers started using the most powerful features in Eclipse. Its pocket size is convenient and the format represents a handy reference. One extra benefit of buying this book is the free access of the digital edition on Safari for 45 days. Recommended.

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