Before using Eclipse I was using a simple text editor. With Ant on the background it has been easy to keep away from JBuilder or Eclipse for a while. A development enviroment like that does keep you alert, and my impression is that one should be able to use a poor man's tools in order to set up the core of the application. But features like debugging in particular are tempting and personally the main reason to switch over to Eclipse.
What still lingers of the days of the simple editor though, is that its low profile and lack of features remains fashinating and brings at the same time a more down to earth way of working which sometimes is even faster than a full featured IDE. A team of programmers must know clearly what's going on though with an editor that for example doesn't keep a track of changes.
Does your book indicate what's the best/preferred way to work with Eclipse when covering all the stages of software development.
Umm... By having a look at the TOC of the book, I'm quite sure that the book won't discuss about the best practices using Eclipse... But I think it might say some tips and tricks in each relating chapters...
And moreover, in the description of the book, it says that
The Java code in the book is simplistic so that we can focus on the tooling provided by Eclipse instead of spending time digging into some interesting but tangential aspect of Java or J2EE development.
The focus of the book is to help you to understand how to use Eclispe 3.0. So in as much as my recomendations of how to use a particular feature are 'best practice' you will find best practices.
I switched from Emacs (where I'd been for 12+ years) to take advantage of the remote debugging and refactoring support. I think you will find that you are more productive once you get going (give it a month). As an example you will find that it is very hard to leave code that won't comple in Eclipse and you will almost never have to look through the code for a complier error because the errors are brought to your attention by the editor.
Download, install and get started. I'd love to hear your expierence and see where/if it aligns with mine. The first week I hated it and thought how dumb I was for commiting to use it for a month. The second week I stoped yelling at my monitor By the third week I was kind of enjoying it. I still use Emacs from time to time but almost never for code development any more.
I used to use vi when I was a Unix geek, and the combination of the powerful Unix tools and a good knowledge of regular expressions was pretty powerful one. I'd been missing that combination on Windows until I began using Eclipse a few months ago. Eclipse makes up for what Windows lacks in large part. I still use Textpad for some things (the search & replace works better for some ops than Eclipse refactoring rename does). Apart from that I'm pure Eclipse now and wouldn't go back.