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Google Web Toolkit Applications [Kindle Edition]

Ryan Dewsbury
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Ryan clearly understands the GWT value proposition and how GWT integrates into a diverse web technology stack—and not just in a theoretical way. With the popularity of and, Ryan can speak with the authority of concrete success.”

Bruce Johnson, creator of Google Web Toolkit

“This book distinguishes itself from other books on GWT in that it walks through the entire process of building several nontrivial GWT applications, not the toy applications that most books present.”

R. Mark Volkmann, Object Computing, Inc.

Google™ Web Toolkit Applications is an excellent resource for any GWT developer. Solutions to challenges commonly encountered in GWT are presented through the design and development of actual applications. The applications developed throughout the text demonstrate best practices from simple UI design all the way to custom code generation, and are presented with little pretext about the amount of Java knowledge a given developer may have. Advanced concepts are not withheld but are presented in a way that will be understood by both novice and seasoned developers alike. Good application development practices and proper Model View Controller design is reinforced throughout the book, nearly guaranteeing that the reader will come away a better programmer. “

Jason Essington, Senior Web/Java Engineer, Green River Computing

“Dewsbury’s Google™ Web Toolkit Applications is a book for both experts and beginner programmers who want to discover this open source Java software development framework, as well as write Ajax applications. A very detailed book!”

Massimo Nardone, Advisory IT Security Architect

Accelerate and Simplify Ajax Development with Google Web Toolkit

Get the edge you need to deliver exceptional user experiences with Google™ Web Toolkit Applications, a guidebook that provides web developers with core information and instructions for creating rich web applications. Whether you’re a developer who needs to build a high-performance front end for Java, PHP, or Ruby applications, or to integrate with external web services, this resource from expert Google Web Toolkit (GWT) developer Ryan Dewsbury delivers the in-depth coverage you’ll need.

In this valuable book, insider Ryan Dewsbury provides instructions for using the robust tool set and gets you on your way to creating first-class web applications by providing a comprehensive overview of GWT technology. In addition, he shares his “in-the-trenches” insights on

  • Building elegant and responsive user interfaces with Cascading Style Sheets and GWT’s Widgets and Panels

  • Creating seamless user experiences through asynchronous communication with HTTP, REST, JSON/JSONP, and RPC Interoperating with web standards—such as XML, RSS, and Atom—and web services—such as Google Maps, Amazon Books, Yahoo! Search, Flickr, and Blogger

  • Overcoming browser security restrictions, such as HTTP’s two-connection limit and the Same-Origin policy

  • Accelerating development, using software engineering, code generation, internationalization, application patterns, and Java tools

  • Deploying for optimal performance with resource compression and caching

  • Building five non-trivial applications: a gadget application with a rich drag-and-drop interface, a multi-search application that makes requests to many search engines, a blog editor application for managing entries across multiple blogs, a web-based instant messenger, and a database manager for a traditional web page

This practical guide to GWT introduces you to the technology; provides techniques, tips, and examples; and puts you on the road to delivering top-notch user experiences for your web applications.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ryan Dewsbury is a developer, architect, and consultant who started working in C++ and Java in 1998 and has used GWT since its first release. His recent projects include developing software applications with GWT (most notably and As a consultant, Ryan helps companies develop great online user experiences using cutting-edge software.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I’ve always had an interest in the nontechnical side of software development: the user experience. It started back when I was working on teams building the core of application servers in C++. We admired the beauty of the C++ language and its expressiveness. We made large, complex systems run seamlessly with elegant code. We marveled at our templating techniques, which made the C++ compiler churn out code just like a code generator would. Then I would leave work and was not able to mention a word of it without receiving blank stares in return.

I decided to find time to write a client-side application that would be as elegant to the user as well-written code can be for a developer. I chose to build an instant messenger application, mostly with C++, that combined the four major networks into one interface. At the time, instant messengers were becoming bloated with features—there were too many buttons distracting users from sending a simple text message. The instant messenger application I developed resulted in a much better user experience for instant messaging: instead of users downloading a 10MB application with a five-step installation process, I optimized the messenger to be 200K with a clean interface (much like the Google Talk messenger is today). As a result, it was downloaded over a million times.

While developing interfaces in C++ I was always impressed by the ease of creating a nice-looking interface on a web page. If you compare the code required to set a font in C++ to cascading style sheets, you’ll see what I mean. Then Ajax started to become popular, producing web interface behavior similar to desktop interface behavior. Combine this with the ease of making things look better with CSS, and you have a much better platform for interface development.

I was really impressed when I saw Google Maps for the first time. The user experience was perfect. I simply typed into my browser and I was instantly provided with a fully functional map application. I could drag the map around in different directions, traveling around the world, zooming in and out without waiting for a page referesh. I had a brief look at the technology needed to do this, specifically JavaScript, and was disapointed. I knew there were limits to what you can build with JavaScript. It would be nearly impossible to build large complex client-side applications with it.

Then the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) was released, and I decided to try writing an application using it. In only three weeks I had built the client and server side for a poker application. I put it up at You could simply type the URL into your browser and be instantly presented with a live poker game. No downloads, no installations, and the interface could be styled nicely and easily with CSS. Scott Blum, Bruce Johnson, and Joel Webber from the GWT team came by to do some “testing,” and I had the opportunity to thank them for building an incredible tool. I marveled at being able to write elegant Java code that could be transformed into JavaScript by the GWT compiler. I was really impressed by how GWT so solidly let anyone create applications that delivered great user experiences.

After GWT’s initial release, I found that its great abilities weren’t clear to many and that it would take a book with several real examples to illustrate this. I had never written a book before, and to write one on a technology that was not my specialty didn’t seem quite right. But then again, nobody specialized in GWT at this point. I believed enough in the technology to give it a shot. To make up for my lack of experience and before writing any of the chapters, I spent several months exclusively developing GWT applications to explore every part of GWT as well as every part of web technology that GWT could touch. Part II of this book presents five of these applications.

What Is This Book About?

This book is about writing nontrivial Ajax applications to create great user experiences using web technologies and Java development tools, with GWT bridging the two. The book focuses primarily on the Google Web Toolkit, with an in-depth look at its library and tools. As a secondary focus, it covers software development techniques and patterns using Java, and how to apply Ajax application development with GWT. A terciary focus is on web technologies, including web standards and other Ajax libraries and APIs.

Who Should Read This Book?

I’m a developer who wrote this book for other developers. Software developers who need to create user-facing applications should read this book. Most of the code in the book is based on Java, but care is taken so that the book is accessible to a beginner with the language. If you don’t know Java, you should familiarize yourself with the language before starting this book. Sun has great tutorials to get you started:

GWT is not just an Ajax tool for Java developers. I think this view severely undercuts its true strength. Java developers will find using it easy; however, the technology is for any software developer who needs to build nontrivial Ajax applications. You could be a .NET, PHP, Ruby, or C++ developer. If you’re one of these developers you would need to learn another language to build an Ajax application whether you use GWT or not. I recommend that you learn Java—starting with the previously mentioned tutorials from Sun, and GWT through this book and the GWT documentation at—instead of JavaScript. As a result, you will save a substantial amount of time debugging and maintaining the application while creating a much better user experience.

Organization of This Book

This book has two parts. Part I gives you an in-depth introduction to using the Google Web Toolkit. You can use it as a reference for the GWT library or as a guide to using effective development techniques with GWT. Part II provides a thorough look at five nontrivial applications built with GWT. In this part you’ll find development patterns, techniques, and subtleties used through application design and development. Each application in this part is designed to be a balance of GWT library usage, web service and technology interoperation, application design and architecture, and user interface design. As you read through these chapters, you can follow along and construct the applications on your machine. The chapters include most of the code, but you’ll need to refer to the source code at in certain instances that are identified.

Part I: Understanding the Google Web Toolkit

  • Chapter 1, First Steps with the Google Web Toolkit, introduces web technologies, skill sets, and GWT, and includes a short tutorial on creating an Ajax game application.
  • Chapter 2, User Interface Library Overview, details the user interface library that comes with GWT. This material consists mainly of notes and examples based on the usage of each widget.
  • Chapter 3, Server Integration Techniques, describes several methods for integrating with server-side applications.
  • Chapter 4, Software Engineering for Ajax, looks at Java tools for software development and how they apply to GWT development.
  • Chapter 5, Using the Toolkit Effectively, covers some of the more advanced techniques of development with GWT, including CSS, code generation, internationalization, and performance.

Part II: Rich Web Applications by Example

  • Chapter 6, Gadget Desktop Application, presents a gadget application with a rich drag-and-drop interface, persistence with cookies and Gears, along with using JavaScript APIs with GWT.
  • Chapter 7, Multi-Search Application, shows how to create a search application that makes requests to many search engines. The application uses JavaScript Object Notation with Padding (JSONP) to communicate with Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, and Flickr.
  • Chapter 8, Blog Editor Application, walks you through an application to manage blog entries across many blogs. This application integrates with the Blogger REST API using an HTTP proxy.
  • Chapter 9, Instant Messenger Application, details a web page instant messenger based on GWT-RPC. It covers how to use an event-based protocol along with optimizing with Comet on Tomcat and Continuations on Jetty.
  • Chapter 10, Database Editor Application, looks at a database manager for a traditional web page. The application explores advanced topics such as reading complex data structures from the server using Data Access Objects, code generation for easy XML and JSON, and integrating with PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Java with Hibernate.

Web Support

The web site for this book is located at It contains the source code and live demos for the sample applications, a forum for questions and error reports, and other useful reference material.

Product Details

  • File Size: 9338 KB
  • Print Length: 608 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (December 5, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0026A6CAY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,158 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By R Dean
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is the definitive guide to GWT. I would say you need to have more then a beginner's knowledge of Java (which the authors recommends also) and have some web development experience with the HTTP forms just to appreciate what the author is trying to show you. I can't believe I am saying this because the examples in the books are absolutely top notch, but it would be nice to have more sample little code snippets earlier in the book. There is a ton to digest before you get to Chapter 6 where all the great example code starts. But if you do what I did, and try to put into action at least part of what you have learned from each chapter in your own sample programs you will be better prepared for the later chapters. Otherwise, you get to chapter 6 and you are not sure what hit you. That really is my only complaint, a few easy sample apps after each chapter before you get into the big ones in the middle of the book would be nice. But after you finish this book you will definitely be ready to tackle some major projects and you will at least have some pretty good hands on knowledge of the different methods that you can use in GWT develop rich internet applications.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and practical book on Google Web Toolkit December 18, 2007
This book is about writing Ajax applications that create richer user experiences than you usually find in a tutorial book on application programming. It uses web technologies and Java development tools and shows how the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) bridges the two in such applications. Thus the book's primary focus is on the Google Web Toolkit itself along with its library and tools. Secondarily, the book covers software development techniques using Java and how to apply Ajax application development with the GWT. Finally, the book looks at web technologies including web standards and Ajax libraries and APIs. The GWT has many abilities that aren't clear to the novice, and this book takes an example-based approach and attempts to demonstrate many of the capabilities of the GWT to you.

The book's author assumes you already know how to program in Java, and thus does not spend time tutoring you in this. He does not assume you know anything about the GWT. This book is hands on and includes most but not all of the code. For the entirety of the code you need to go to the book's website. The following is the table of contents:

Part I:Understanding the GWT
1. First Steps with the Google Web Toolkit - intro plus a tutorial on creating an Ajax game application.
2. User Interface Library Overview - Consists of notes and examples about the use of each widget in the GWT user interface library.
3. Server Integration Techniques - self-explanatory
4. Software Engineering for Ajax - Java tools for software development and how they are used with the GWT.
5. Using the Toolkit Effectively - advanced techniques for software development using the GWT. This includes CSS, code generation, internationalization, and performance.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best GWT book ever August 2, 2008
This is the best GWT book among the others. Covers from basic concepts and definitions behind GWT (like the gadget library, panels, compositions) and moves to advanced topics (like internationalization, integration with other server technologies, patterns, etc). The book explains server comunication taking from the basic comunication (http requests) to more complex JSON and XML examples. It explains very well and gives so many examples, including many application examples (it's 600 pages).

For those with some experience in Java programming for the WEB and wants to know everything about GWT, this book is perfect.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best GWT book July 15, 2008
There's not much to say about this book other than it is the best GWT book out there. It is prior to 1.5 but the generics really don't change any principles or techniques covered on this text.

It does have a very practical approach, with a lot of coding and it mixes several other technologies to solve the covered project issues, so, if you are not familiar with recent (not so recent anymore) web tech you will probably need a bit of research to fully enjoy the reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Impressed May 18, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was thoroughly impressed with this book. Not only does it provide a great introduction to GWT, it provides the right background information on AJAX, patterns of AJAX usage, and other tools to use alongside GWT. I was just expecting another dry reference book for yet another framework. The examples were well thought out and interesting - not just more Hello World apps.

I think you may need a good background in both Java and JavaScript for this to be easily consumed, but for me it hit the spot.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I have read many of the available GWT books. This one looks better than the others, it has nice diagrams and uses patterns - all very positive.

As with the other GWT books this one suffers from poor proofreading, there are typos and missing words, but probably far fewer than other books on the subject.

When the book arrived I was disappointed by the flimsy paperback and very thin glossy pages. Pairs of pages tend to stick together and mark easily from fingerprints, also as other reviewers have commented about the publisher, the source code is not (easily) available for free download.

Before all of the negatives build up, I think that this is a book you will need to buy, both for its good programming approach and for the advanced topics section. I bought the book simply so that I could read chapter 9!

The book unfortunately seems to dwell (in the earlier chapters) on Eclipse. I see no coverage of the excellent support for GWT in both NetBeans and IntelliJ IDEA.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful!
As a total newbie with regards to GWT, this book covers all of the bases.

As I'm new to web development in general, I had to look outside this book to answer questions... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Robert
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
I bought this book 4 years ago because I was interested in developing thick client browser UI. I like the event model in Smalltalk and Java, and never has a chance to learn Java... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mom
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Free Online Edition is deceptive
The book is generally OK, but the "Free Online Edition with purchase of this book" is deceptive. In reality it is just a "free trial" and should say that on the back cover instead... Read more
Published on January 13, 2011 by Greenkiwi
4.0 out of 5 stars A book with excellent examples to jump start
If you feel uncomfortable to read through the Google site about GWT, get this book. If you want some tiny tips with GWT, get this book. Read more
Published on December 6, 2010 by raycheung
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written Book!
This book is a very good resource for a GWT developer. It covers the basics well and goes on to develop usable real world examples. Read more
Published on August 24, 2010 by mcfar
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This is one of the better books I have read to learn about a new IT technology. This would still be true, even if the other books did not set the bar so low. Read more
Published on October 24, 2009 by J. B. Smathers
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money
This book didn't have anything spectacular that couldn't be found through a quick search for gwt on the internet. Online samples are easier to follow than the book's examples.
Published on March 13, 2009 by Jon T. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great!!
What makes this book great is that it sets the tone for beginners and makes it easy to step to the next levels. Read more
Published on September 28, 2008 by N. Decapia
1.0 out of 5 stars Source code examples troublesome
The source code examples on the book are incompatable with GWT version 1.5 because of the use of the GWT gears project in the examples. Read more
Published on August 26, 2008 by Franklin
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Utilites
This Book contain a real utilities Drag and Drop, Windows, conecting with logic in other lenguages by HTTP GET/POST and more, ideal for an understanding of the potential for rapid... Read more
Published on May 18, 2008 by RODRIGO CUBILLOS C.
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Topic From this Discussion
Does this book cover using GWT with JSON and/or PHP?
Yes. Chapter 3 provides an overview of server interaction including using the GWT JSON library. Chapter 7 shows an example application that uses JSONP to load data from third party servers. Chapter 10 shows an example application that manages objects to and from a MySql database using PHP and JSON.
Mar 4, 2008 by Ryan Dewsbury |  See all 2 posts
How popular is GWT ?

I'm not sure, but i guess you are comparing apples with oranges. GWT is a user (client) side solution.
Feb 14, 2008 by Evaldas |  See all 4 posts
Does this book cover using GWT with JSON and-or PHP? Be the first to reply
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