Geertjan's Blog

  • January 31, 2006

Struts -- The Scenic Route

Geertjan Wielenga
Product Manager
Different users have different needs and one of those needs is to get up and running as quickly as possible when they are new to some technology. Hence, quick start guides. NetBeans IDE has a whole slew (wait a second while I check that spelling, yup I was right) of these. For details, see the docs page for the NetBeans 5.0 Release. However, one ongoing internal discussion is: "How quick should a quick start be (to be done quickly)." Well, some are of the persuasion that a quick start guide should be really quick, the user should probably take an absolutely minimum number of steps and then -- whammo -- see something magical on their screen. I can see that argument (but then, I wonder, if a user wants to see something quickly, why not just open a sample and run it).

But, whether or not a quick start guide should be "really really quick", or "really quick", or just "quick", I'm of the persuasion that believes that a quick start guide should also teach something meaningful, and not just rush someone through something without pausing for breath. So, this is a slow build up to... the long awaited (well, by me, anyway, but I've only had myself to blame since I've been the one writing it) "NetBeans IDE 5.0 Quick Start Guide for the Struts Web Framework". Now, in the annals (quick, another spellcheck, yes, I got it right) of quick start guides, even those that are just "quick", I realize that this "quick start guide" is probably as quick as molasses (i.e., not quick at all). Still, at the end of it you should basically have a pretty good grasp of what Struts is all about. Throughout the tutorial (contrary to anyone's definition of "quick start"), you'll find definitions of concepts such as "action class" and "actionform bean class" that lie at the heart of the Struts paradigm. (And for which I should thank Chris Webster.)

So, anyway, if anyone out there feels passionately about the meaning of the term "quick start", please leave a message so that docs writers everywhere (but principally here at NetBeans) can add real user opinions to the decision-making process when defining quick start guides for future NetBeans releases.

And, in the meantime... why not take the scenic route through Struts by reading the brand-new-but-not-so-quick NetBeans IDE 5.0 Quick Start Guide for the Struts Web Framework. It is written for the absolute beginner (based on a few blog entries of mine from some months ago and, prior to that, based on an application built by the great NetBeans QE guy Karel Zikmund who now works for Microsoft in Seattle), who is interested in not only how Struts works in the IDE, but also how it works conceptually, and who has a little bit of time on their hands...

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