Thursday, July 10, 2008


Lesson 1 thoughts in 'Eclipse and Java for Total Beginners'

Funny start to my Eclipse training. My mentor installed Eclipse for me a couple weeks ago and I had not launched it since. So I sit down to do the tutorial and I can't find Eclipse in my programs or a short cut on my desktop. There's no folder called Eclipse. First thought was that Desktop support erased from my pc. I did see an obscure folder that I thought might be it. When my mentor came in the office, he assured me of the folder and it was not Eclipse.exe. He installed a version that includes a bunch of other stuff we use and it's another obscure file with a .cmd extension. Off I go into the abyss.
He did give me a quick show and tell. My first impression is that I'm so glad to give up NotePad. I don't care if I get called a 'wuss' for cheating with an IDE. I can struggle with syntax and other code confusion just fine without the pain of hacking around with NotePad and command prompts. An IDE like Eclipse gives me hope.
I love these points made by the tutorial author, Mark Dexter, from the companion .pdf document.

- Eclipse provides a number of aids that make writing Java code much quicker and easier than
using a text editor. This means that you can spend more time learning Java, and less time
typing and looking up documentation.
- The Eclipse debugger and scrapbook allow you to look inside the execution of the Java code.
This allows you to “see” objects and to understand how Java is working behind the scenes
- Eclipse provides full support for agile software development practices such as test-driven
development and refactoring. This allows you to learn these practices as you learn Java.
- If you plan to do software development in Java, you’ll need to learn Eclipse or some other IDE.
So learning Eclipse from the start will save you time and effort.

Couple thoughts:
- I like the length of each lesson. Each lesson is less than 15 minutes. It's giving me a sense of accomplishment.
- I like the speed he's going in and he's very clear. Of course you can stop the playback of these Flash demo's.
- I set up the dual monitor settings in Windows Control Panel/Display. One for my laptop and one for my monitor. I have the video playing on one and Eclipse in the other. I'm able to type allong with the instructor.
- In my IT training life, I've had lousy instructors and great ones. I learn next to nothing and get frustrated with one and get totally stoked with the other. So far, I like this instructor. A good instructor makes all the difference to me. I mean, it's the difference between failure and success, bottom line.
- You build a full application/project that seems cool. It's a book reservation system.
- I'm using 3.3 version of Eclipse and the tutorial is for 3.3. When he went File/New/Project, my dialog's were slightly different. Not panic time yet at all but just thought it was interesting. Mine is File/New/Java Project.
- It's cool having a virtual instructor so I can hear his perspective on things as he navigates the IDE or code.
- You learn little time savers that I most likely would not catch on my own. For instance, Ctrl+space is code complete assistance.

Really enjoying this so far and I'm getting it so far.

I don't you think you'll regret your decision to move on from a text editor. It's good to know that method but I don't think any serious development can get done efficiently without a proper IDE. From simple indenting and matching curly braces on complicated code to find/replace across your project all the way to serious refactoring; I don't think I could do it any other way. Good luck!
Pulling my hair out chasing curly braces late in the afternoon is not my idea of fun or productive. Agreed!
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