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Head First Java, 2nd Edition Paperback – February 9, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0596009205 ISBN-10: 0596009208 Edition: 2nd

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"It's fast, irreverent, fun and engaging. Be careful--you might actually learn something!" - Ken Arnold, coauthor (with James Gosling, creator of Java) The Java Programming Language "It's definitely time to dive in--Head First."

- Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems, Chairman, President, and CEO

About the Author

Kathy Sierra has been interested in learning theory since her days as a game developer (Virgin, MGM, Amblin'). More recently, she's been a master trainer for Sun Microsystems, teaching Sun's Java instructors how to teach the latest technologies to customers, and a lead developer of several Sun certification exams. Along with her partner Bert Bates, Kathy created the Head First series. She's also the original founder of the Software Development/Jolt Productivity Award-winning, the largest (and friendliest) all-volunteer Java community.

Bert Bates is a 20-year software developer, a Java instructor, and a co-developer of Sun's upcoming EJB exam (Sun Certified Business Component Developer). His background features a long stint in artificial intelligence, with clients like the Weather Channel, A&E Network, Rockwell, and Timken.

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Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2nd edition (February 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596009208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596009205
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (458 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

All the pictures, comments and puzzles make this a fun book to read.
I really enjoyed reading the book, and this is the first time this has happened when reading computer books.
Tomas K. Hirsch
This book is very easy to follow and does a good job explaining things.
Jason Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By David J. Graper on October 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've been a professional programmer for years and I had to learn Java fast to stay in my current engagement. The "Learn-Java-In-24-Hours" style books had appealing titles but instead I decided to try this weird, truly different approach to learning because O'Reilly published it. (I have been familiar with O'Reilly for years and always recognized them as a top-flight publisher, although their books often had a formal, college-textbookish tone that made them better reference books than read-thru books.) I was put off by the graphics-intensive comic book style when I paged through the sample on-line at Amazon but decided to give it a try.

I think they're really on to something here. I can only speak for myself, as someone who already has a background in programming, but I believe the book actually works. Over a couple weeks I read the book, did the little puzzles and exercises which the authors were so insistent that I do, and was really surprised at the depth of knowledge I came out with at the other end.

Sitting in a developer's meeting yesterday I was really surprised that, while I clearly didn't have the years of experience the other coders had, I had no problem keeping up and was even able to contribute. I'm now moving in to the new assignment fairly well and am confident that I'll be able to pick up the details of this language now that I've got such a good grounding from this book.

I've now ordered the companion O'Reilly volumes on Enterprise JavaBeans and Design Patterns and am curious to see if they can maintain the same level of quality. Those skills would really seem to set a programmer apart, a critical consideration in a world where the competition is getting better (and unfortunately cheaper) every day.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Richard Barton on February 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I started learning Java a few years ago, having had previous experience with C++, PL/SQL, ActionScript (Flash) and even assembly language. For some reason, even with books by Paul and Harvey Deitel, I found that I was not sure of what I was doing in Java. I could read the code and tell what a program was doing, but was having a hard time creating the new objects, interfaces and methods I needed for my project.

My wife bought this book for me and I didn't have the heart to tell her that a "silly" book on Java would not help me get where I wanted to go. How wrong I was!

The authors make it seem like they are very casual, even irreverent, about the subject. However, they actual do imbed the concepts into your mind with silly poems (roses are read, this poem is choppy, java is always pass by copy - or something similar) and crazy "debates" between objects and concepts. The light finally came on about what objects living on the heap was all about and that declaring an object variable is really declaring a reference to an object. Wow! so that's why you need an object.equals(object) method instead of just using object==object. The other books pointed that out, this book MADE the point in the brain.

I could provide lots more examples of how apparently silly games make the concepts live in your brain instead of just on the paper, but you really should experience it for yourself. I fully intend to investigate the other Head First books that are relevant to my work.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Larry on July 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
I like writing reviews on technical books because I think they are of enormous value to those considering buying the book. I buy a lot of books online and the reviews that I read are by far the most important thing that influences my decision to buy. Or not.

I also like to read what others before me have written. In this case - and for all of the "Head First" books I have read - I heartily agree with what virtually all others have written: these books are a great way to learn complicated, and oftentimes boring, subject material.

So I won't rehash what others have already written, except to say that if what you read was good - believe it.

I think the most important thing I can say about this book is that I agree with what Hye Nyoun Eum Kim wrote: NOT for beginners. I remember thinking to myself throughout the book that a fair, or at least some, amount of Java knowledge would be necessary in order to understand what the authors were covering.

If you already know Java and want to know it better, buy this book. If you are new to Java, and especially if you are new to programming, I still recommend buying this book. But do yourself a favor - check out other introductory Java books and buy one of those as well. A good starting point? I have bought the "Just Java" (by Peter van der Linden) books ever since Java 1.0 came out.
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297 of 353 people found the following review helpful By Publius on March 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book. I bought the Head First book on design patterns and love it. It was the right mix of irreverance and information. So, I bought this book even though I have been a Java developer for over 5 years. I was excited to see how the Head First authors handled a beginners book for Java.

Not too well, in my opinion. Chapter Three, in particular, was a mess. This chapter introduces the notion of variables yet never explains what an integer variable is. No explanation is given of the float type. We are told that a byte holds 8 bits...but not told what a bit is. We are not told how to assign a hexadecimal value to an int. We are not told that if we assign a numeric value with a leading zero...the compiler will assume that you meant to use octal values. The reader is not told that Strings are immutable. These are all things that will trip up a beginner (the target market for this book). The author of this chapter doesn't even bother to mention that a Java array uses a zero-based index.

Both primitives and the notion of classes are introduced in Chapter Three. Yet, the author doesn't mention that all primitives (except boolean) have wrapper classes. Strings are introduced...but, no mention is made of the StringBuffer or StringBuilder (very useful and often used classes). These items are included in the back of the book in Appendix B.

There are so many things left out that I wonder if the publisher actually had any beginners read this book. Readers of this book will finish this book still ignorant of many Java essentials.

Here is one of their dumbed-down explanations for an object reference:

"Think of a Dog reference variable as a Dog remote control. You use it to get the object to do something (invoke methods).
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Head First Java, 2nd Edition
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