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Keywords: NetBeans, Java development tools, IDE, J2EE
Title: NetBeans IDE Field Guide, 2e
Author: Patrick Keegan et al
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Verdict: For the new NetBeans user and would-be developer 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…
So began our review of the first edition of this popular and influential book. Where the first edition of the book was in line with NetBeans 4.1, this second edition matches NetBeans 5.0, bringing it into line with the improvements and evolutionary changes that have occurred as the IDE has continued to improve and mature.
As before there are there are two halves to the book. The first half 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, source control with CVS 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 opening 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).
Some of the buzz around the latest version of NetBeans is due to the inclusion of the Matisse GUI-builder. This is covered in a chapter devoted to developing and deploying GUI applications using Matisse. Other new material includes coverage of Java Server Faces and Struts support, profiling support and the use of collaboration tools for team working.
In addition to providing guidance to the core functionality that is likely to be used by every Java programmer, the book also features 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. There is also a chapter 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.
In contrast to the first edition, there is now also a chapter devoted to developing NetBeans plug-ins. This extends the scope of the book to more than basic IDE usage, it can now be used by developers looking to extend the environment or to produce rich-client applications with the NetBeans platform. This is a welcome addition to the book, making it more than just a beginners introduction.
Our original verdict was simple, and it still stands: For the NetBeans user looking for a good introductory tutorial, this is highly recommended.