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Google Web Toolkit Applications Paperback – December 15, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0321501967 ISBN-10: 0321501969 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (December 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321501969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321501967
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

This is written well, easy to follow, well planned.
J. B. Smathers
It covers the basics well and goes on to develop usable real world examples.
I have done GWT development and book came into market recently.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R Dean on March 30, 2008
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 By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo Memoria Lima on August 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
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 By Steve Appling on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joao C. M. Costa on July 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dinsdale Litotes on February 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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