Eclipse: Step by Step (Step-by-Step series) - page 5


Welcome to the first Step by Step book, Eclipse Step by Step .

I hope you'll find this book educational and entertaining, as well as a valuable tool. This is the first book that provides an overview of Eclipse and IBM's new Software Widget Toolkit (SWT), and it does so in a unique and powerful way.

Where did the concept for the Step by Step books come from? Well, my mentors over at MC Press wanted a set of books that diverged from the traditional "reference manual" products. You know the kind I'm talking about ”they go through every possible nuance of a subject in minute detail, making no distinction between something you might use once in your career to something you need every day. These books traditionally break the subject up into sections based on package names or menu options, with hundreds of pages of reference material in the back of the book.

We talked about it, and we agreed that reference books are great for people who already know the subject. But in today's fast-paced data processing environment, things are evolving rapidly , and people need to learn new things, and learn them quickly. My personal experience has always been that the easiest way to learn something in programming is to see somebody else's code. Even better is to have well-commented code. And the best is to have someone walk you through it.

That's what this book is meant to do. Its design is based on the labs I give at various conferences and client sites around the world. My labs are a combination of lecture and mentoring session (which led inevitably to the ungainly name of "lectoring"). Each class starts out with a specific business goal in mind. Compare Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) and record-level access for business applications, or combine servlets and JavaServer Pages to create a multi-tiered application architecture. I identify my target audience, and then develop a curriculum that meets their needs. The way I do this is to create a test case that will require my students to learn all the things they need to know to reach the original goal. I then walk them through each task required to implement the test case, step by step (thus the title of the book).

In this case, my business goal is to teach you how to use the new Eclipse Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to develop graphical business applications. And since I don't know you personally , I can't assume anything about your knowledge level. That being the case, you'll be able to use this book even if your only knowledge of Java is how to spell it. However, that doesn't mean that Java programmers can't benefit! Even experienced developers can make use of this book, since it will cover three areas that are of crucial interest these days: Eclipse, IBM's SWT, and JDBC. If you've wanted to see a working application using any of those technologies, then this book is for you.

In this book you won't just learn the names of classes and methods or see a list of every menu option along with a brief description. Using this book, you will create, from scratch, a complete functioning application. This book will show you where to get the software, how to install it, how to configure it. It will then focus on those options that you would use in a real production environment ”options that will quickly enable you to be productive in Eclipse. It will show you in a real-world environment what steps you would need to take to create a program from scratch, or modify someone else's.

Each step has a checklist of tasks to perform, and each task is documented with screen shots and my editorial comments. Nothing is assumed, nothing left to your imagination . There is no magic in programming, except maybe knowing where to start, and that's where Step by Step comes in. The idea of this book is that, once you've finished it, you will understand the subjects well enough to continue learning more on your own.

Because it's that first step that's a doozy.

Joe Pluta
Pluta Brothers Design, Inc.
May 2003