Book Review: Zend Studio for Eclipse

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p. I get a lot of books to review but I always feel special when I get autographed copy of a book from the author. (you reading this Scott Siglar?) My buddy Pete MacIntyre has been after me to review his book for some time now and honest Pete, it’s been sitting on my desk since it arrived patiently awaiting my attention. So last night I broke down and went through it. I’ll have to say I was impressed with what I saw.

p. I’m not a huge fan of “Eclipse”: It’s a great tool but like so many other great tools, the learning curve is steep. My case I realize is not common among developers, I’m a casual IDE user. For those that live and breath code, an IDE like Eclipse is an invaluable tool. The problem still exists though, when you want to start using a tool of this complexity, you can either learn by trial and error, find someone who is already using it and bug them, or find out if someone has been nice enough to lay it all out in a book for you. In the case of “Zend Studio for Eclipse”, Pete MacIntyre and Ian Morse have done just that.

p. The book is a short read at only 174 pages. Each chapter concisely covers a single topic. By the time you are through the first five chapters even novice users should be able to get work done using “Zend Studio for Eclipse”: MacIntyre and Morse do a good job of giving you the basics to build on.

p. From there on, the book starts delving into the deeper aspects of Zend Studio. The authors do a good job of covering topics like Testing, Debugging and the WYSIWYG designer.

p. Starting in Chapter 16, the authors walk the reader through the design of a simple project to show the steps necessary to build a project using Zend Studio. This project introduces the reader to the concepts behind setting up and building a project using Zend Framework.

p. All in all, the book gives a good overview. It’s not a book for beginner programmers, it’s written for experienced programmers who want to begin using Zend Studio or existing users who want to get the most out of it.

p. Every book has it’s downside and this one is no different. For the most part the book is clear while being concise. However if the concepts being described are totally foreign to you (perspectives?) then concise doesn’t help. I had to read that chapter a couple of times before I really understood. Also, the sample application is built on an earlier version of “Zend Framework”: so readers need to understand the concepts, if not the exact code.

p. All things considered, I give the book high marks. (and not just because I have an autographed copy) It will help almost any competent developer get up to speed on this powerful tool. There is no doubt that Zend Studio is a powerful tool in the right hands, the trick is to make sure that yours are the right hands.