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Learning Java, Second Edition
Learning Java, Second Edition (Paperback)
by Patrick Niemeyer, Jonathan Knudsen
(56 customer reviews)    

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Editorial Reviews
Java is the language du jour, and plenty of books have been written about it. But with so many books available, new offerings should be something special. This one isn't.

Learning Java starts at the beginning with a "hello world"-style program that demonstrates using Sun's Java tools. Throughout, the book introduces features using examples--all thoroughly discussed and explained in as straightforward and jargon-free a manner as practicable.

A tricky aspect of Java is the way classes are related, so it's neat to see a whole chapter devoted to the subject early on. Even more opaque is the explicit use of threads. Again, this topic is made accessible in this text, especially with its discussion of thread synchronization. Basic graphics, video handling, and other media in Java are discussed, followed by Beans and the builder environment--but stopping short of JavaBeans. The book finishes with a section on applets, the Java plug-in, and digital signatures.

Overall, however, the reader gets no feeling of working toward a goal, and perhaps this would have been a better book if a project had been its theme. Another odd decision in the mix here was to ignore the several--some free--Java IDEs generally used to program Java. (The book makes a point of saying it hasn't discussed them but doesn't explain. Even beginners find Java more accessible in a programming environment.)

Still, Learning Java, which uses Java 2 v1.3, does a competent job of introducing the language to beginners. As with most O'Reilly books, it's authoritative, lucid, and well edited. Though this book may fail to inspire in the reader the presumed enthusiasm for Java felt by the authors, you won't go wrong with this one, and its coverage of object-oriented programming issues is particularly good. --Steve Patient, text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description
Learning Java provides an accessible yet comprehensive introduction to the programming language that has changed the way we think about computing. Java has become the language of choice for a wide variety of applications: web services, secure network systems, XML-based tools, reusable components, and mission-critical enterprise systems. Learning Java is filled with easy-to-follow code examples that guide you through Java's many features, APIs, and facilities.

This new edition of Learning Java has been expanded and updated for Java 2 Standard Edition SDK 1.4. It comprehensively addresses important topics such as web applications, servlets, and XML that are increasingly driving enterprise applications. This edition provides full coverage of all Java 1.4 language features including assertions and exception chaining as well as new APIs such as regular expressions and NIO, the new I/O package. New Swing features and components are described along with updated coverage of the JavaBeans component architecture using the open source NetBeans IDE the latest information about Applets and the Java Plug-in for all major web browsers.

The accompanying CD-ROM provides all you need to start working with Java immediately. In addition to the many example programs from the book, the CD includes the complete J2SE SDK 1.4, the NetBeans IDE, the Jakarta Project's Ant make utility and Tomcat application server as well as BeanShell, a simple open source Java scripting language developed by author Pat Niemeyer.

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Product Details
  • Paperback: 826 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly; 2 edition (July, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0596002858
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds.
  • Average Customer Review: based on 56 reviews.
  • Sales Rank:
    (Publishers and authors: improve your sales)
  • In-Print Editions: Paperback (3) | All Editions

Look Inside This Book
Browse Sample Pages:
Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover

Spotlight Reviews
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful:

Not a tutorial and not for new programmers, October 19, 2002
Reviewer:macktheknife (Northern, CA) - See all my reviews
I had purchased "Learning Java" out of the conviction that some patience and thought was all that was needed to make sense of the book. "Learning Perl" (also published by O'Reilly) had a somewhat steep but manageable learning curve-I thought "Learning Java" would be more of the same. Unfortunately, I found "Learning Java" to be a disappointment. The book begins by creating a simple "Hello, Java!" pop-up box along with brief explanations of the basic concepts of Java (class, methods, etc). The book, however, then gives an overview of syntax and tools with no practice exercises. The book essentially went like this: "This is what a class is. This is what a method is. This is what an exception is." And so on. The book spends a few paragraphs describing many important concepts of Java without adequate examples and no practice exercises. The author's organization and presentation of the materials made the book more of a dictionary than a tutorial.

Don't get me wrong, the book does provide an excellent overview of Java's history and heritage. It also serves as a handy (but incomplete) reference, although "Java in a Nutshell" is a much more complete reference. However, like some reviewers, I believe that the title was a bit misleading for those wanting to actually learn to program in Java. This book is not for someone new to programming. "Learning Java" is actually more like an overview or tour of Java that introduces the program's features and tools. It is not a tutorial.

My recommendation: See if you can get a hold of "Learning Java" and take a look at a few chapters. If you like the author's approach (and several reviewers did), then by all means purchase the book. I was originally going to recommend that only those with C or C++ programming experience give the book a try, but I've noticed several reviewers with such experience giving the book a poor review. If you are looking for a tutorial, try the deceptively named but excellent "Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days" by Laura Lemay.

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful:

Performs Its Focused Purpose Exceedingly Well, July 11, 2002
Reviewer:Rahman (CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This book addresses a pragmatic issue. The fact is that no one single textbook or reference can hope to cover all of the details and issues surrounding the enormous Java language. Bookstore shelves are replete with books, including many excellent ones, covering transitions from C/C++ to Java, or developing a major comprehensive project, or focusing upon a specific facet of the language, such as threading, or networking. The Internet can play a major role in this as well. The Sun Java and IBM Developer Domain sites, for example, contain a wealth of information and tutorials. Even personal (home) websites can be found, describing the syntax and basics of Java, so popular a language it is.

A different approach is taken here. An intrepid beginner needs more than syntax, and already contains so much bubbling enthusiasm that personal projects will spring from imagination on their own. Two major questions are addressed in detail (albeit obliquely) in this book:

1. Why was the Java language created, when earlier languages purportedly address the same issues?

2. How have the designers formed the infrastructure of that particular aspect of Java, and how does an individual developer implement and expand upon it (at the lowest levels)?

This is the function which this book serves, in an ocean of already-existing manuals, tutorials, and references.

With this function now clearly defined, the form follows systematically. Some full program examples are provided, when necessary. However, frequently only a program fragment is all that is required, and in fact is ideal, because it removes extraneous distracting details from the flow of the chapter section. After all, even in the excellent O'Reilly "Java Examples In A Nutshell" book, do you not spend much of the time before and after writing the program, hunting around for 'the main key' that makes the program really work?

Excellent graphs and class diagrams are provided, reminiscient of O'Reilly's "Java Foundation Classes In A Nutshell", along with developmental history and clear exposition on why that structuring was chosen above all others. Recreate the packages, classes, and relations yourself, independently, with pen and paper, and the utility of this book will quickly be realized: it serves as a bridge, between introductory works, and exhaustive focused references.

This book may spend a month or three on your bookshelf after you first buy it. You may even question why you did get it to begin with. Its value will come to you when reflection is needed (self-reflection, that is, not just the Java kind).

So, visit numerous websites...Download the .PDF files, and browse the .HTML references. Also, get books that this book supports, and not the other way around. This can include O'Reilly's "Java Examples In A Nutshell", and Wiley And Sons' "Effective VisualAge For Java Version 3". And whenever you need to slow down, and figure out how and why the inheritance and implementation was done the way it was, and which parts of a detailed program really make the gears mesh, dip into this book, write notes furiously, then put it back on the shelf until later, when you need it for succinct clarification once again.

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review:
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

I agree that this book stinks, November 29, 2005
Reviewer:James Roche "cooljames" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
I'm taking a Java class right now. The instructor was pretty cool about not mandating a specific text, and I can usually depend on O'Reilly titles for meeting both of my requirements for technical books (instructive and useful as a longer-term reference). This book meets neither of those needs.

For learning, whether working to self-teach or follow along with a class, the book stinks. It makes no attempt to present the topics in a progressive order. The chapters definitely range from easy to hard, but the way it's arranged it seems more like it spans from the commonplace to the obscure without accounting for fundamental concepts that would qualify as obscure in the early chapters. As a tool for filling in the gaps of my teacher's notes, it stinks. The code samples are scant and don't build on a wider integration of concepts, which is something I really enjoy about the Flintstones and Gilligan's Island examples of O'Reilly's Perl series.

As a reference, the book stinks. As mentioned above, it does little to give good examples of different ways to include the concepts it introduces into your code. I wouldn't keep it at work as a reference, because I'm no more than a web search away from anywhere in Sun's docs to find what I need. I have an older version of the 'Core Java' series that is far better. What's frustrating about this book is that it's thick as a brick, but the explanation and examples seem to be written from the perspective of an author who's trying to save space. It stinks. It does a horrible job of explaining JUnit and other intermediate programming concepts, and, considering it's the edition that introduces the Java 1.5 components, it does a stinky job of exposing them to both new and experienced Java programmers.

Did I mention that this book stinks? It does. I hope O'Reilly doesn't continue this trend. Their books make up nearly 100% of my technical library, but they really missed the mark on this one. I'm selling mine and buying the latest of the Core Java series (which doesn't stink).

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

My First Book about Java, August 8, 2005
Reviewer:Weiqi Deng (Wuhan, China) - See all my reviews
This is my first book about Java, it with me for about 3 years, and I like O'Reilly's tech books.
Use today's sight to say this book is out of date, for Java has updated to 1.5, but for that days I learn Java, it is great.
And I don't think this book is good enough for programming beginners, the reader must have some knowledge of programming.

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

little about i18n, Unicode, EJBs, May 29, 2005
Reviewer:W Boudville (US) - See all my reviews
[A review of the 3RD EDITION 2005.]

If you're learning Java from scratch, you might as well start at the latest version 5.0. But Java has grown hugely since 96. The book's size directly reflects that growth. Even so, the authors had to make the decision to explain only what they consider to be the minimal set of core classes. Their choice seems spot on. Spanning such key topics as I/O, Swing, Applets and Threads.

To get best use of the advice, you should be familiar with object oriented programming from another language. The chapters are well written, but can be opaque to one who has never programmed before. Plus, there are no problem sets. This lack can be awkward to some readers.

What isn't covered? Advanced functionality like Enterprise Java Beans and JMS. And internationalisation is barely mentioned. Mostly to do with using resource bundles. But no discussion about display issues of bidirectional text, for example. Related to this is just a glancing explanation of Unicode. American readers might say, so what? But readers who might have to code for non-European languages will find the book deficient.

Yet, to be fair, the book is long enough as it is. While it is easy to describe what was omitted, the authors have made quite reasonable decisions about coverage.

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

review, May 1, 2005
Reviewer:LSD (Canada) - See all my reviews
I found this to be a rather good book for learning Java in a course
environment. If I had to learn Java on my own however, this book
would not be my first choice. It is rather difficult to read
through though, I found the preface to be interesting.

If it had more examples, and exercises that the reader could work
through this book could be an even better resource. As it is, I
used it mainly as a reference book to augment, and help clarify what
I learned in my course. Still, there were times when my professor's
specification would require the use of a particular class that he
expected you to learn from the recommended text. The recommended
text would have examples of these, but usually Learning Java, 2nd
Ed. did not. In fairness though, the professor may have chosen
those particular classes knowing that the examples would be in the

Lack of examples aside, it did a fairly good job of explaining Java,
and Object Oriented programming tasks. Still, for the beginner
learning Java in an unstructured environment, a different text may
be more suited.

See all 56 customer reviews...

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