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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning Java 2 (JDK 1.3 Edition) is a masterpiece!
Would that I had encountered Ivor Horton when I first sought to learn any programming! Beginning Java 2 (JDK 1.3 Edition) is a masterpiece. I have been able to stay on track working through one chapter per day doing the reading and the exercises. This has been a challenging effort but the reward has been substantial growth on a daily basis of my understanding and...
Published on September 4, 2000 by Thomas E. Denham

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good explanations, but the examples....
You buy a book like this for one main purpose: to have something explained to you. Ivor does this superbly, his explanations are top notch, and are the reason for the 3 stars.
There are two reasons for the missing stars. Firstly, I think the book goes too deep too soon. I don't know about you, but when I'm learning a new language, I don't want to get into nitty...
Published on March 27, 2001


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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beginning Java 2 (JDK 1.3 Edition) is a masterpiece!, September 4, 2000
By 
Thomas E. Denham (Alpharetta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
Would that I had encountered Ivor Horton when I first sought to learn any programming! Beginning Java 2 (JDK 1.3 Edition) is a masterpiece. I have been able to stay on track working through one chapter per day doing the reading and the exercises. This has been a challenging effort but the reward has been substantial growth on a daily basis of my understanding and facility with Java.
Because of its size (over 1200 pages), this is not the place for an absolute beginner to start. I would recommend Java for Students for those who are seeking an introduction to programming and Java at the same time. This is an excellent book if you have some orientation to programming, Java or not, and you want to develop a solid base in the language. The author notes in the Introduction that the word Beginner in the title reflects how much he assumes of the reader in his teaching style rather than anything about the skill level he is trying to develop in the reader. The book is thorough and does a good job of covering Java language, syntax, and the class libraries.
I have been very pleased with how clear the explanations are and how useful the examples and exercises are for learning Java. Rather than just code fragments, the author tends to use code samples to illustrate the points that he makes. He encourages typing the samples in yourself and playing with the parameters to get a feel for what is going on. This results in having more confidence with the language while developing your understanding. In the course of a chapter I find myself keying in 6 to 8 code samples.
I wonder if Ivor Horton began life as a mathematics professor. Many of the exercises involved calculating factorials, prime numbers, the volume of the Sun in cubic miles, etc. I have trouble working with these numbers on their own, let alone developing a computer program to calculate them. Thankfully, it is possible to follow the logic even with this unfamiliar material.
Wrox Press offers a website that documents errata that has been found in the book. Rather than just site a line here and there, the errata section often provides a whole block of code with the corrections made. This makes it easier to find the changes. I have not found them to be troubling but I copied them into a Word document and printed that out so I can correct each chapter before I read it.
Most amazingly, there is a Beginning Java email list associated with the book that is actively monitored by the author and a Wrox Press sysop. Readers report problems they are having with code or things they don't understand and other readers or the monitors provide ideas, suggestions, and answers. I have started a Lotus database to file things I am mining from the list so I can make use of them in the future. The list appears to be a place where both beginners and more advanced students can learn a lot.
Each chapter tends to build on the chapter before it. It works best to work through this book from start to finish. If you already know Java you might browse chapters to get a better grounding in a particular area but the author assumes you know what he covered earlier in the book and the chapters do not stand-alone.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Expectations, October 2, 2000
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This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
I bought this book because it got rave reviews right here on this site. I wasn't disappointed. It's excellent! Some techies can write books and some can't. This guy can. The explanations don't leave you in the dust, nor do they go to slow. It's jam packed with info, but your hand is always being held.
I don't like all the math used in the examples--it clouds the issues, but everything else was great.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for "beginners", September 8, 2000
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
I picked up this book to give myself another "once over" on the Java language from someone else's perspective, and to help me review before I start to crank down on studying for the certification exam. Ultimately, this book proved to give pretty thorough coverage of the language and it showed me things I missed before in other books. I think this book proves to be a very worthwhile read, but primarily for a certain group of people.

The target audience for this book fairly specific, as it is clearly intended for people who have never before programmed in a compiled language. If you are migrating from C/C++ or VB, I would speculate that the slow pace and wordiness will bore you. Mr. Horton's well explained examples, however, are a useful reference for many skill levels.
One observation that strikes me most about the book is the level of detail the author goes into. This tends to be a double-edged sword. If you need to get into the details, with a thoroughly explained example to boot, it is wonderful. But if you are reading on a subject to which you are already familiar, or not interested, it becomes painful. As an example, this is the one of the few beginning Java books that clearly explains all you need to know about bit twiddling (sure, most of us will hardly ever use it, but it is on the certification exam), but then it spends 16 pages discussing the intricacies of the Vector Class.

I really feel that the examples are the high point of the book. They are, for the most part, non-trivial and seldom overly contrived. The explanations for each example are very thorough and there is little chance of you getting left behind. Again, I found this to be a bit of a double-edged sword. While overall they are excellent examples, I felt that the examples are really the driving the direction of the book. This is often evidenced by structure of the book. For example, the BigDecimal and BigInteger Classes are not introduced until the last chapter in the book. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it rather forces you to read the entire text, and the index does a good job of telling you where to look. Ultimately, I believe true beginners will love the thorough explanation of the examples.

The toughest aspect of any entry level Java book is the introduction and paradigm shift into Object Oriented Design. This topic is difficult for me to judge, since I am already familiar with the concept. However, I can say that it avoids recursive definitions that plaques some other introductory Java books. You will especially love this book if GUI design is what you are after. The author builds a fairly complex application over the course of many chapters. The author also did a great job on multithreading, although it was very brief compared to the time allotted for some other subjects. I also enjoyed the final two chapters on JDBC, which should help the reader build a strong foundation on an extremely useful aspect of the language.

There are a few noticeable things that bothered me. For instance, missing from the book is any mention of the background and evolution of Java, which I have come to expect in any introductory text. One thing I feel I have to mention is the misnomer of the title. Nowhere in this book does the author discuss the differences of ANY of the versions of Java. The only substantial difference between this edition and the previous version is the inclusion of one chapter entitled "Adding Sound to your Programs." All in all, this doesn't really detract from the book, but I did feel a bit misled. Aside from that, the author sometimes misses some important semantics found in the Java Language Specification that a beginner would not pick up on. These include the separation of constructors from methods (technically speaking, a constructor is not a method), and the categorization of checked and unchecked exceptions. It also surprised me that the author never compares Java to any other compiled language.

Nit-picking aside, I think this book has a lot of great information packed into it. You'll get a lot for your money on this one. The index makes up for the unpredictable organization, so this book will serve well as a reference for those times when I need the details AND a practical example of implementation. If you are starting from scratch and need to be walked through lock-step (this book's target audience), then I recommend this book. If you are coming from any other language or are too impatient to work through all the details your first time around, then this book might frustrate you too much.

Considering the author's target audience, I have to give this book 4 stars.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Good Java Skills, September 21, 2000
By 
Suresh Chanmugam (Brampton, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
After searching several books that would teach java 2, I have concluded this is the best book I could find. Don't be fooled by the title "beginning java 2" This book is a whopping 1100 pages plus (and smaller than usual font). Covers Java Core, I/O Streams, util package, Threads, Basic to Intermediate Swing (graphics) and JDBC (database). It is well written with good explanations, Code Snip lets and "Diagrams!". The explanations are detailed which is great for novice programmers and useful for seasoned programmers moving from another language to Java when stuck with a concept. Seasoned non java programmers can read through the code snip-lets and grasp concepts through the numerous diagrams that explain key concepts easily. It is not a skim by the surface book leaving you with holes of thought nor is it a book that just covers elementary topics. The author goes from the elementary to intermediate level with good detail. It is not a quick reference. Well Done! Ivor Horton
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good explanations, but the examples...., March 27, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
You buy a book like this for one main purpose: to have something explained to you. Ivor does this superbly, his explanations are top notch, and are the reason for the 3 stars.
There are two reasons for the missing stars. Firstly, I think the book goes too deep too soon. I don't know about you, but when I'm learning a new language, I don't want to get into nitty gritty fine detail about a concept that I only learnt 2 minutes ago. I'd rather get all the big points covered first so I feel I have some understanding of the language, and then move to the finer points, so you can see why those finer points are relevant in the big picture (and also to keep the pace up a bit).
Secondly, the code examples: Ivor, give the maths a break! A huge percentage of code examples are maths problems. What's up here? Was the editor on holidays when Ivor wrote this book? I love the explanations, but dread the examples. Show me one more class for calculating the area of somethingoranother and I'll throw up. I'm trying to learn a new concept, I want the content of the example to be as simple as humanly possible so I can focus my energies on understanding the code, not understanding what the code is trying to achieve. This is the main reason for the 2 missing stars. Sorry Ivor, just give the maths a break. It's just not consistent with either a good tutorial or real world programming.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Content - fills in holes a lot of other books have, September 22, 2000
By 
Amazon Customer (Florida, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
This book is an excellent tutorial text and reference. I was able to find example implementations of classes that were missing from other Java books. For example, GregorianCalendar, SimpleTimeZone, and java.text.Date were clearly explained, defined, and then implemented with good examples. These classes were missing from Deitel's Java How To Program (as was any other detail on how to use dates in Java that I could find) and from three other books I consulted.
Why I enjoy this book is because Horton explains each aspect of the language well and then implements his examples as complete classes, not snippets that may or may not compile and run. Every example I've tried has compiled and run as expected. Not so for other books. Also, if there are lines of code which may not be easily understood, Horton goes through them, explaining why they are there and what they do. Every issue I've looked up in this book, either to learn from scratch or to reference something I already knew some details on, I've gotten complete information. That makes Horton and this book a real winner.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb explanations but baffling code examples, March 24, 2001
By 
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
This book is "misleading", if one were to wholly judge it by its cover. I was led into buying this book a year ago when I "just started" to learn Java from a Computer Course. The first few chapters are excellently written. Horton deserves full credit when it comes to getting a concept across by way of explaining. But when it comes to reinforcing the freshly understood concepts by way of examples, he fails miserably. The examples are too long and drawn out and most of your time and energy is wasted in understanding the example rather than the concept. (one instance is the magicHat example on pg. 211 to explain static nested classes). I feel examples should be short, simple and directly pertaining to the concept which it intends to illustrate. In this regard, Patrick Naughton's "Java 2 - The Complete Reference" is lot better. Ivor Horton's "Beginning Java 2" shall be an all-time gem if the author looks into the above shortcoming of the book and brings out a new edition(..it would almost be a new book !!) with short, simpler and solid examples following the otherwise superb explanations.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Java Book/Resource, December 27, 2000
By 
Agamon (Indianapolis, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
In the world of programming books a given book will usually have some of what you need and explain it well or it will have most of what you need and explain it archaically. This book has most of what you need but explains it beautifully. Very good for first time programmers, first time java programmers, and those who have been learning/working with java for a few of years. It is a little hard to believe that a book can be useful to people of such different skill levels. The book pulls off this feat by focusing on teaching quality and not the conservation of paper. With 1150 pages of raw teaching the book acts like a three or four semester course you can jump around in. The sections are fairly independent of eachother wich makes jumping aroung easy. The subsections are less independent becuase he tends to use one example for a section and grow that example throughout the section. But the code he uses as illustration in a section is very clearly presented separately from the code making up the rest of the example. This sounds like it might make understanding a snippet without reading the section impossible. But his explanation for any given code snippet is so good you rarely feel lost, or under informed jumping into a subsection. This layout which is good for when you need to find and learn some something specific (like how Serialization works) is also excellent for cover to cover reading. It gives the book a real one step at time feel that strides along at a fair pace. This is something that is truely rare in programming books. Despite all this the book is not exhaustive and I recommend to any serious programmers the purchase of an additional book on Java 2. Java itself is simply so huge that no one book could adaquately cover it all, but of all the Java books I have seen this book comes the closest to doing so.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Beginner's Book!, April 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
As an experienced programmer, I've seen every angle attempted on beginner's books. Horton nails this one! From start to finish, Ivor will teach you the basics of Java and back them up with real world examples. Great book for beginners and experienced programmers alike!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comparsion to Beginning Java 2, Edition 1, April 18, 2000
This review is from: Beginning Java 2 JDK 1.3 Edition (Programmer to Programmer) (Paperback)
Judging from the perspective that Edition 1 and Edition SDK 1.3 are the same, the newer edition has added 1 new element. That is how to add sound to your application. This is the best book for all beginners into object oriented programming. However, if you have already purchased the "Beginning Java 2" 's in its 1st Edition, forget about this newer JDK 1.3. The older sibling is still as good. 1 extra chapter in "sound" is not worth the 39.99 price!
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