I'm not normally so excited about tech books however the email that I was about to open contained the link that would allow me to download my own personalized PDF version of Google Web ToolKit
by Ed Burnette and all that it promised. After a quick download I opened up the PDF to find only 63 pages. That is correct: this book promises to deliver you to the land of AJAX development in a scant 63 pages of reading. It was all I could do to ignore the skeptical side of my brain as it screamed louder and louder. AJAX is hard and 63 pages spread over 8 chapters leaves 8 pages per chapter. There is no possible way that this topic can be covered in so few words. Putting all skepticism aside I nestled into my coach class seat and started reading.
The first meaty topic on the agenda is how to get started. The book sets forth instructions on how to download and install the GWT, the JSE 5.0 and Eclipse. Following the practices used inside Google, all of the examples were built to work in Eclipse. Not being one to follow instructions, I installed the JSE 6.0 before finally installing the GWT. I then fired up IDEA 6.0 and set out to run the examples. What gave me confidence to deviate was the clarity in which the book is written. This made it easy to translate and I was easily able to run the examples in both Hosted and Web mode in IDEA without any difficulty.
The following chapters explained the basics of how to tie into HTML, the GWT entry point, events, and included two very nice reference sections that covered a subset of widgets and panels. One could argue that this information could easily or should easily be found in the Javadocs. However, the book presents this information in a very useful condensed format that includes tips and those all important diagrams. For example; sidebars are used to include questions from a mythical reader named Joe. Joe asks questions such as, "do I still have to worry about browser differences in CSS?" It is this higher level of value that can make a difference that is typically missing from Javadoc.
My test for any book is: can I take the information given and apply it to a real problem? With this in mind, I started off to build an index page using the book as a reference. It wasn't very long into the endeavor when I started to feel just how few words there were in the book. The book was a great starting point but I found that quickly needed Google to obtain more detailed information. Any book you get is most likely to not have everything you need no matter how long it is. However I would have like to have seen this book contain one more chapter and a more complete real example such as the weather report published at DeveloperWorks.
The raison d'être of for the Friday series is to provide information for people who need it in a hurry. In about an hour, I did manage to go from knowing practically nothing about the GWT to having a sound understanding of the fundamentals. With this knowledge it wasn't very difficult to overcome the shortness of this work. It also says that the value in this book is in the words that have been left out.
Another advantage with the Friday series is that upgrades to this book (and there already has been one) will be immediately downloadable to those that have already made the purchase. If you are in need of an in-depth treatment of GWT and AJAX in particular, you may want to consider another title from this publisher. However, if you are comfortable with Java and HTML and would like a quick boost into the GWT then this book will certainly meet your expectations. At the cost of $8.50 (USD) and one hour of reading, this book comes with a very quick return on investment.
has more than 15 years of experience in informatics. During that time he has focused on applying Object Oriented methodologies and technologies to the field of distributed computing, where he has functioned as a researcher, developer, designer, architect, and consultant. Kirk has been heavily involved in the performance aspects of applications since the start of his career.