Geertjan's Blog

  • January 8, 2014

Interview with Authors of "NetBeans Platform for Beginners" (Part 1)

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager

On Leanpub, a new book entitled "NetBeans Platform for Beginners" is being written by Jason Wexbridge and Walter Nyland. (There's also a new NetBeans Platform book to be released soon on Amazon, by Paul and Gail Anderson, click here for details.)

I've known about the Anderson book for a while, but not about the one by Walter and Jason. So I sent them some questions! Here are their responses.

Hi Jason and Walter. Firstly, I must admit that your names are pretty unfamiliar. What's your involvement with and connection to the NetBeans Platform?

Jason: Hi Geertjan and, yes, you're not going to find our names anywhere. We're part of the "lurking community" of the NetBeans Platform mailing lists. And we thought it was time to contribute back.

Walter: Right. The NetBeans Platform is an awesome framework, though the books on it are outdated and the information around it very scattered through the web universe.

So, you decided it was time to put a new book together. What's your experience with the NetBeans Platform?

Walter: We've worked in various industries where the NetBeans Platform is used, primarily on underwater control systems, as well as military-related software. The NetBeans Platform is quite well known in those worlds.

But everyone is creating mobile apps nowadays and web applications, right?

Jason: Wrong. That's all hype. In the real world, when you need a secure system that is reliable and can handle truly heavy amounts of data, while being performant, the desktop is your friend.

Walter: Exactly right. Mobile devices are handy for games and maybe sales-type activities, but if you're doing anything even remotely meaningful in the scientific world, or in geospatial analysis, or analysis of any kind, really, you need the desktop with all its increasing processing capabilities.

Let's now talk about the book. What's unique about it?

Walter: Some of the existing books aren't as clear as they could be.

Jason: And all of them are outdated in one way or another.

Walter: Also, some focus on one example throughout the book, which can be painful if you want to learn one particular thing. Others are purely reference material, without any content of immediate practical value.

Jason: We've tried to combine these approaches into something that is hopefully better. Each chapter begins with a thorough theoretical basis. That's the first part of each chapter, almost like a referential underpinning for the second part, which is almost tutorial-style in putting real code on the screen.

Which topics do you cover?

Jason: That's also unique about this book, in that our scope is very narrow. We only want to cover the key features of the NetBeans Platform, e.g., module system, window system, action system, lookup. Those kinds of topics. Each chapter is dedicated to one of these core NetBeans Platform themes.

Is the book really for beginners only?

Walter: It's definitely a complete starters pack for beginners. However, anyone is likely to gain from it, at whatever level of NetBeans Platform development you're at. Several topics are discussed that you won't find anywhere else.

Jason: By the end of the book, anyone with a solid Java background will really be able to build meaningful applications on the NetBeans Platform. Code samples throughout the book solve many typical problems and questions NetBeans Platform developers have. It's really focused on being something like a "Bible" to the NetBeans Platform.

What do you consider to be the NetBeans Platform's key strengths?

Walter: Definitely three things. Firstly, modularity, enabling good code organization and pluggability. Secondly, the file system, which provides the spine of any NetBeans Platform application. Thirdly, the Lookup, which provides loosely coupled communication on every level of NetBeans Platform applications.

Jason: I'd agree with that. All the rest of the NetBeans Platform is based on those three pillars.

Sounds like you've got a really thorough understanding of the NetBeans Platform! What are the release plans of the book?

Jason: Certainly by the end of this month, i.e., by the end of January 2014. After that, we're going to focus on books that didn't fit within the scope of this one, e.g., a book on Maven and the NetBeans Platform, a book on creating source editors, i.e., creating an IDE on top of NetBeans IDE for a domain-specific language, and a book on NetBeans IDE itself, which we consider to be the best IDE out there.

Wow, wonderful. Anything else you'd like to share?

Walter: Yes. Everyone, please go to the book's site, read the sample PDF that is already out there, and let us know how much you'd like to pay for the completed book. That information is really important, we're trying to figure out how much to charge for the book, also considering that we're making a big investment in terms of our time and energy, plus we're looking at writing more NetBeans-oriented books, as you can see above, so we're trying to get a better idea of our market!


Many thanks, Jason and Walter! And, NetBeans Platform developers out there, please support this great effort by going to the site above and reading the PDF, leaving comments for Jason and Walter, and by telling them how much you'd pay for the completed book.

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