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Keywords: NetBeans, Java development tools, IDE, J2EE
Title: NetBeans IDE Field Guide
Authors: Patrick Keegan, Ludovic Champenois, Gregory Crawley, Charlie Hunt, Christopher Webster
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Verdict: For the new NetBeans user looking for a good introductory tutorial, this is highly recommended.
In contrast to the hundreds of titles available for Eclipse, there are very few books on offer that are devoted to that other big open-source Java IDE, NetBeans. This is a shame, because a healthy eco-system of books, tutorials and communities is an essential ingredient for the success of any of the major development environments. However, with the publication of the 'NetBeans IDE Field Guide', new users finally have a single volume introduction and tutorial for NetBeans 4.1.
Conceptually there are two halves to the book. The first half, consisting of five chapters, provides a solid all-round introduction to Java development with NetBeans. It begins with installation and moves on rapidly to cover all of the main development activities: creating projects, editing code, writing tests, refactoring support and debugging. Effectively it shows the reader how to get the most out of the core NetBeans functionality.
The book proceeds using a task oriented approach, and there are lots of step-by-step instructions with good use of illustrations and screen-shots. For the first time NetBeans user overwhelmed by the unavoidable complexity of a new development environment, these five chapters will put things into place. Topics such as Ant and JUnit integration are all covered, as well as how to use NetBeans with version control software (such as CVS).
Having provided guidance to the core functionality that is likely to be used by every Java programmer, the book then moves on to a series of chapters devoted to specific types of development. These include Web applications, J2EE development with EJB, Web Services, full-scale J2EE development and finally developing applications using J2ME. A final chapter is about integrating existing Ant scripts into NetBeans.
These chapters use the same approach as those in the first section of the book. The emphasis is on clear examples, straightforward instructions and screen-shots to guide the reader.
Overall this is a solid book that covers all of the main areas of NetBeans functionality. It's pitched at the reader who is already familiar with Java development but who is new to NetBeans. There is even an appendix which looks at importing Eclipse projects into NetBeans. Note that this is a user guide rather than a NetBeans developer guide, and as such there is no coverage of how to build NetBeans plug-ins or of how the IDE is itself structured.
For the new NetBeans user looking for a good introductory tutorial, this is highly recommended.