Interview with Author of "Pro NetBeans"

Adam Myatt, experienced author and NetBeans user, is the writer of Pro NetBeans IDE 5.5 Enterprise Edition. It is set to be released by Apress towards the end of March 2007. You can already pre-order it from Amazon (click here). At 475 pages in length, it seems like a book worth getting! Here's what the front cover looks like:

The book's matching web sites, for which Adam has written several articles, are http://www.ProNetBeans.com or http://www.ProNetBeansIDE.com.

I interviewed Adam, about his NetBeans background, his experiences writing about it, and the opinions he formed while working on it.

  • Hi Adam, tell us something about yourself in general. Who are you and so on?
  • I'm your typical technology enthusiast. I love everything about technology, particularly programming and software tools. I work as the Principal Technologist of Software Development at General Electric's Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York. It's an amazing place to work and it helps me constantly improve my technical skills - especially Java.

    I was originally introduced to Java at college and have been with it ever since. I got my Computer Science degree from the State University of New York at Potsdam. It's a great small-town school and a phenomenal Computer Science department. At college I realized I not only loved technology, but also teaching others about it. To this day I continue with that passion as I'm always going off on rants about the newest open-source project or cool API, sponsoring college interns at work, or writing articles and books to educate others!

  • You've recently written a book about NetBeans. Wow. Great. Why and how did that come about?
  • One of my favorite things to play with are Java IDEs. I'm constantly amazed at how advanced they are, the powerful features, the variety of plug-ins they offer, the productivity improvements, and so on. I was a fan of Eclipse for quite a while, but continued to have numerous frustrations with it. As of version 5.0 I decided that NetBeans was ready to migrate to and made the switch. I haven't regretted it since.

    The book itself came about as I was already speaking with the wonderful folks from Apress about a few possible book projects. Eventually, the subject of NetBeans came up. After some discussion on the best approach we decided to move forward on Pro NetBeans IDE 5.5 Enterprise Edition.

  • How did you get to be a writer anyway? And say I am an expert in some technology area and want to write a book about it. What would you advise me to do?
  • I grew up writing short stories, but never had anything published. I always wanted to write a book, but never had a good enough topic or any contacts to actually make it happen. Once I entered the technology field I discovered that there were plenty of topics you could learn well enough to write about. You just have to make up your mind to do it. As for finding a publisher, there are many book publishers such as Apress that have a "Write For Us" section on their web page. Just draft a few paragraphs about your idea and send it in. If they like it there's a good chance you'll hear back from them. If you don't, be persistent and keep generating new ideas.

  • So what's the book "Pro NetBeans IDE 5.5 Enterprise Edition" about, generally?
  • As the name suggests, it is really centered on the Java Enterprise technologies. It primarily focuses on Java Web Applications & Struts, the Visual Web Pack + JSF + AJAX, UML modeling features, EJBs and Java Persistence, and the general area of web services, SOA, and BPEL. There are also chapters on features like refactoring, the Ant project structure, JUnit integration, code coverage, database tools, and collaboration.

  • Had you read the NetBeans IDE Field Guide at the time of writing your book (or since)? How does your book compare? What are its differences? Should I get it if I already have the NetBeans IDE Field Guide?
  • I actually got a copy of it at NetBeans Day 2006 in San Francisco before JavaOne. I read parts of it on the long plane ride home. Good book; it mostly focuses on NetBeans 5.0. My book targets the newer NetBeans 5.5 features such as the Visual Web Pack, JSF and AJAX components, UML modeling, EJB 3.0, Java Persistence, XML tools, SOA, BPEL, etc.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Java developers who are seeking an IDE that is intuitive to use and has an amazing feature set. Whether you're a Java amateur, professional, or student - this book (and NetBeans) are for you.

  • What were your biggest surprises about NetBeans IDE while writing about it?
  • I'd have to say how well everything worked together. The stability of the platform is impressive. I was particularly surprised at how well the Visual Web Pack worked, even though it was only recently ported into NetBeans. I'm also impressed with how easy NetBeans makes it to work with the myriad of Java EE technologies.

  • What do you think of NetBeans, compared to other IDEs you've worked with?
  • For Java developers, absolutely the best. Hats off to Sun's NetBeans team. The competing tools are good, but not nearly as easy to use as NetBeans. I'm not just saying this because I wrote a book about it. I've held the same positive opinion as of day one of using NetBeans. The usefulness and stability of the system exceed my expectations.

  • What could be improved? What is missing, in your opinion? Try complete this sentence: "NetBeans would be even better if..."
  • ...it had support for and was tightly coupled with several continuous integration servers. I'd also love to see new features in the Collaboration tools and have them better integrated with the rest of the NetBeans features. It would also be great to see the Visual Web Pack's JSF Page Navigation tool able to be used for Struts.

  • How was it to write the book? What were the highlights and "lowlights"?
  • To be honest, it was a lot of work. It takes a lot of personal time at night and on weekends to put it all together. This past year was quite busy for me in that I took on a new time-consuming role at work, bought a house, got a rambunctious cat, went through several home renovation projects, and wrote the book. It didn't leave a lot of time for sleep. However, it was great when all the chapters started to come together and I saw final layouts for them. I also enjoyed testing out all the little nooks and crannies of NetBeans. I thought I was well-versed with it previously, but quickly realized I had only used a portion of what NetBeans has to offer.

  • If you were to start again from scratch, what would you do differently?
  • I would love to have written more content on the Visual Web Pack and JSF. The book contains a reasonably lengthy chapter on it, but there are so many great parts to the Visual Web pack. I would love to have written an entire book on it.

  • What are the main things you've learned about writing while writing about NetBeans?
  • First and foremost, probably how to prioritize my time better and not multi-task as much! A lot of people are guilty of taking on too much at once and I'm no exception. I also learned how difficult it is to communicate written concepts in a meaningful way. You don't realize how hard it is sometimes to do that. It's easy to talk about a technology and explain it to someone in person, but a whole different story when you try to write about it. The book writing process definitely helps you organize your thoughts about a subject. It's a lot of work, but amazingly rewarding to see your name on a book.

  • When is the book coming out? Where can I get it from?
  • Apress is releasing the book around March 26, 2007. I know it's on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble's site (bn.com), and a host of other online book sites. I'm hoping you'll soon be able to walk into your local Borders or Barnes&Noble to find it!

Here's Adam with Duke at JavaOne:

(Duke is the one with the big red nose and pointy head. Adam is the one next to him, smaller nose and less pointy head.)

Comments:

Interesting interview. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Ganeshji Marwaha on January 22, 2007 at 03:00 AM PST #

Looking forward to buying the book. A good book will help me to learn the new features of NetBean5.5 more quickly than just strugling along on my own. I hope it comes with good working examples. Would like to see some extracts from the book beforehand to see the writing and presentation style.

Posted by Pratap Chatterjee on January 23, 2007 at 04:14 PM PST #

Thanks Ganeshji. Pratap, I'm looking forward to the book too. However, there's no need to struggle along on your own -- see the tutorials (http://www.netbeans.org/kb/index.html), which include everything in 5.5.

Posted by Geertjan on January 23, 2007 at 07:11 PM PST #

How do I get a hold of Adam Myatt? I just bought the book pro Netbeans IDE 6. I am working through one of the chapters and trying out some of his examples (Ch 13). I can't get it to work (im sure something that I have left out). I would like to see a sample that works or get some help with it. thanks, Brenda

Posted by Brenda Krivensky on March 04, 2008 at 12:37 AM PST #

Hi Brenda. Congrats with the book! Drop me an e-mail at geertjan DOT wielenga AT sun DOT com and then I will put you in touch with him.

Posted by Geertjan on March 04, 2008 at 12:49 AM PST #

Good.

Posted by Santhosh Kumar T on May 19, 2008 at 05:53 PM PDT #

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About

Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.

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