Amazon's nice selection of Eclipse books, even by this author, can be daunting. You see volumes 1, 2...n..; versions 4, 4.x... 4.n; vogella; java... and !!!!
Cutting through all the fog, THIS BOOK IS BY FAR the best starting point for general and beginning Eclipse use, as well as a great reference for all levels. IOW, even though this is "volume two" you DO NOT need "volume one" to begin learning the Eclipse IDE, this IS it! Confusing? I know. Since I'm targeting this review at beginners to Eclipse development (which is where this book shines), let me detail the frame. First, Eclipse is an open source (freely available free) SDK or IDE. Those initials mean software development kit or integrated development environment-- specifically targeted to Java coding.
When I say Java, I mean Java application development-- meaning writing software programs / apps in Java. An IDE is a kind of "editor" or gui that allows you to write, debug and test drive your programs and apps, or even pieces/ units within them. IDEs themselves have plug-ins, design pattern templates, their own api's, and much more. Before you (as an ADVANCED developer) use those tools, you've got to first learn to use an IDE itself (like Eclipse, DrJava, EasyEclipse, J, Netbeans, Cube-J, BlueJ, tIDE, etc.). Other books, volumes and editions in this series show you advanced techniques for those plug ins and app development; THIS book is a great intro to how they all integrate from square one.
Even though this starts at the beginning, you have to understand at least the basics of OOP, Java, libraries, runtimes, compilers and other aspects of development, or you'll get lost quickly, even at this gentle level. Unlike C#, Java uses bytecode and distributed compilation/ interpreting, so developing in Java has its plusses and minuses, but Eclipse is one of the top open source IDEs for many Java jocks. I predict that in the future, compilers will all be distributed and only "thought of" as a unit (your smartphone doesn't recognize your voice, Google's servers do).
Commercial IDEs can be as cheap as an old $50 C++ IDE from Borland on ebay that includes a compiler, to $1,000 plus for VBA ides that include server licenses (and not all that well supported, being part of .net!). Visual Studio and other cheap/free IDEs also are available for C# if you just want to get your feet wet in practicing the interfaces. IDE career tip: for very specialized (and high paying) projects and careers, consider learning a rarer IDE like object/pascal for the newer delphi compilers-- you'll have a rare skill (like Erlang) that's growing like crazy right now! I love Java, but just trying to help you be rare and specialized.
If you're really serious about getting into or advancing in Java development, you also need to search Amazon for the keywords: Maven, Ant and Git. These topics will help you organize and plan at the project level once you're deeply into versions, and will help you jump out of the trees to see the forest once in a while (figuratively, not the red/green trees and hash tables!!!!--- well, maybe.). These tools help with version control, difference tracking (Delta compression, etc.), project, and other management needs. Why get a separate book on Git or Maven when books like this on Eclipse cover them? Because, in Eclipse, many of the controllable Git features are hidden and automated, and at some point you might want to control them directly. That said, this author does a great job of parsing Git features both automatically and directly for version control.
This book is highly recommended for the nuts and bolts of Eclipse navigation, features and operations, and a great intro to IDEs in general, given that you can download it free for numerous OS's (The Eclipse IDE, not the book! Go to eclipse dot org forward slash downloads); and I probably don't need to tell you the vast number of Java libraries out there to get you flying very quickly on your first million dollar, copyrighted program / Android or IOS app. You really need to read THIS BOOK first before trying to tackle plug ins and advanced API's, unless you're already very familiar with ides in general-- still, this book is about best practices and state of the art features in Eclipse if Java is your juice. I DO NOT recommend this (or any other math or software text) in ebook form, even though I love my fire. When it comes to UML, formulas, diagrams, etc. the ereaders are a true pain to integrate and study, and it is hard enough to learn a new interface as it is. Get the paperback!
EMAILERS' ANSWER: Several folks have emailed saying that if you're really good in Java you don't "really need" an IDE. Well, ok. My humble opinion is that with the many new codecs and distribution profiles (from mobile to distributed, concurrent, web, embedded, parallel, combined paradigm, partially client compiled, etc.) IDEs are "necessary" if you think of them as time and work savers, and like Design patterns, to keep you from reinventing the wheel. Plus, if you're seriously developing multi thousand line code with plug ins, templates, libraries, etc. the version control features alone are a must (eg. compression routines to recognize and save differences only).
Just one opinion, but I value yours also if you're that good, and will stay open minded, thanks for emailing! (Update: re-reading your email, you seem to be talking about bypassing the compiler, not the IDE! This book doesn't cover it, but yes, you can install a syntax sensitive editor in your code that saves code in pcode so you don't have to write (or use) a separate scanner - parser. The user code never gets saved as text scripts, so there is no need to compile if you choose that technique. Folks who do a lot of XML scripting have learned that you can "sim" a virtual compiler with lex/parse tools like antlr.
TWO: "General question, does book cover Groovy, or for that matter, DSLs?" A: I think you're asking whether Eclipse itself covers Groovy, for use in creating your own domain specific languages. YES. You need the GroovyEclipse plug in, and after loading it, you can do everything this text talks about in Groovy, just like Java, including source level edits, highlighting, etc. NetBeans has Groovy support (post 6.5) as native, but both work just fine, and you can access all the cool dynamic features of Groovy (operator overloading, closures, script builders, lists/maps, etc.) that you wish Java had. The JVM runs it just like Java, fully transparent. No, this text doesn't specifically cover Groovy details, but ALL the IDE features are identical for Groovy and Java.
Library Picks reviews only for the benefit of Amazon shoppers and has nothing to do with Amazon, the authors, manufacturers or publishers of the items we review. We always buy the items we review for the sake of objectivity, and although we search for gems, are not shy about trashing an item if it's a waste of time or money for Amazon shoppers. If the reviewer identifies herself, her job or her field, it is only as a point of reference to help you gauge the background and any biases.