Customer Reviews: Effective Java (2nd Edition)
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on May 16, 2008
Please see my review of the first edition for my general response. My opinion hasn't changed with the second, so I'll focus on what's new in this review.

The second edition was well worth the wait. The number of items are beefed up to 78 from 57. The chapter "Substitutes for C Constructs" is gone, but replaced by more contemporary material on "Generics" and "Enums and Annotations." Some first edition items have been amended to address features new to Java since the first edition was released. Some new items also address concurrency, favoring it over traditional Java threads. As expected, the cases for each item are methodically and persuaisvely made. If you are particularly interested in concurrency, also consider Java Concurrency in Practice.

The item discussions use boldface liberally to highlight key points, sometimes calling attention to arguments in the first edition that have been updated. If you're skimming -- the author in fact doesn't encourage cover-to-cover reading -- these highlights are useful attractors to important material you might otherwise gloss.

It's often helpful to have practices or insights you've earned on your own backed up by a reputable authority. Effective Java certainly helps with that. More importantly, the arguments that support his items are clear, easy to read, and compelling. Anyone proficient with Java would have to go a long way to find fault with them. In fact, it took considerable investigation to determine that one item from the first edition -- "Provide a readResolve method when necessary" -- was not the best advice for some cases. Bloch addresses that issue head-on in this edition, and provides its replacement ("For instance control, prefer enum types to readResolve").

As with the first edition, this one is a necessity for any serious Java developer.
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on June 30, 2008
Effective Java, Second Edition by Joshua Bloch is certainly the best Java book I have read in a long time. As a disclaimer, I never read the first edition and I am thus unable to compare the two editions. Effective Java, Second Edition is a mostly easy and fun read providing you with many insights and best practices on how to use Java effectively. It certainly is not a book for the beginner just starting out learning Java. For that purpose you may want to take a look at Thinking in Java by Bruce Eckel instead. Nevertheless, Effective Java would serve as an excellent follow-up.

In Effective Java, Joshua Bloch does a great job describing best practices that you as developer will find useful on a daily basis. For example, I really found his description of the builder pattern (Item 2, page 11) quite interesting. Another Item that fascinated me, was Item 15 (page 73) - "Minimize mutability". Both items are part of a broader theme throughout the book that promotes creating code that is as immutable as possible. In that regard, reading the book will enable you to simply write better and safer code. The book also leads the way towards promoting functional programming techniques which will come in quite handily when developing multithreaded applications. Therefore, as a next book I may recommend reading Java Concurrency in Practice by Brian Goetz.

Even for the experienced Java developer, Effective Java contains quite a few little eye openers. I for example was previously unaware of how static factory methods can simplify the creation of parameterized type instances using "type inference". This is described on page 9 (Item 1). In the past I had always used something like this:

List<User> users = new ArrayList<User>();

But by using a static factory method you can do:

List<User> users = Helper.newArrayList();

I thought that this was a pretty nifty example that may help making code a bit cleaner. What I also very much liked about Effective Java was that Joshua points out certain short-comings of the Java language itself and its APIs whenever applicable. For example, page 64 describes the inconsistent behavior between BigDecimal's 'equals' method and its 'compareTo' method, and in item 41 (page 194) Joshua details the shortcomings of the List interface when using Autoboxing.

While the vast majority of the book was very easy to read and to understand, I found that the chapter about bounded wildcards using generics (item 28) was a little difficult to grasp and I wished it were a bit more extensive. On the other side, the provided mnemonic is quite helpful: PECS - Producer-extends, Consumer-super.

Overall, I highly recommend Effective Java, Second Edition which will continue to serve me, and likely you too, as an excellent reference resource.
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on May 12, 2010
If you want to know the good things about this book, read the other reviews, many of which I agree with. This review just states what makes the book 4 stars for me instead of 5, because none of the other reviews I read pointed them out.

Most of the items in book are very good, a few are great and well worth the price of the book and the time it takes to read it, but some have to be taken with a grain of salt. They probably make sense if you come from the background of working on the Java API team, as the author does, but wouldn't make much sense on any of the projects I have worked on. The problem is that all are presented as universal truths and only through experience can you tell which truly are and which can be ignored.

I also feel that some of the items need to be tempered with just plain practical usefulness. I know that programming a certain way makes the code bullet proof from certain errors by not compiling if those errors are introduced, but if the code is quite a bit harder to understand and those errors are rare, is it really worth it? Also, some of the items are written as if everything you are writing is being published and supported publicly. If code and interfaces are just being used between two teams within the company, or even just on a single team, some of the logic used to describe why items are important don't make as much sense. Again, I just feel that these are something that make complete sense if you are writing on the API team, but not necessarily in every other case.

My final small complaint is that the author tends to be a bit wordy on some of the items, fully explaining out every nuance of the wrong way to do it, which tends to create noise in some explanations that are pretty heavy anyway.

Overall, I would recommend the book, it has already made my programming better. An additional note is that I did not find any errors in the code examples or even the formatting, something that I find rare in programming books.
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on October 27, 2014
This review is not about the book's content. Effective Java 2nd edition is a rather well known and successful book. This review is about this particular print/edition of the book. It has ISBN number 978-1502579898 and Amazon product number (ASIN) 1502579898, which varies from original ISBN 978-0321356680 (ASIN 0321356683) Effective Java (2nd Edition).

So, what's different about this print and why I didn't like it much:
* Dimensions are noticeably larger: 8.5x11 in vs 7.3x9.1 in
* As a result of the above, each page of the book has approximately 2 inch empty margins. Can you imagine? It looks very awkward when you read the book
* The spine of the book is blank. If you put the book on a bookshelf among others, it is hard to guess what it is
* Cover quality. It seems like the publisher (CreateSpace) prints a low resolution image cover on a glossy paperback

I liked:
* Lower price that Addison-Wesley's print

Other thoughts:
* Paper and print quality is good

If these differences won't bother you, this book is a good buy.
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on June 11, 2008
The second edition of "Effective Java" is almost like a completely different book from the first. There were new chapters addressing Java 5 topics such as generics, enums and autoboxing. Existing patterns were rewritten for Java 5/6 - both conceptually and for the code examples. For example, overloading now address varargs. The number of items grew from 57 to 78 as well and the author removed the old ones that are obsolete.

As a reference, chapter one provided a table to quickly find items on Java 5. The appendix provided a cross mapping to find items from the first edition in this copy.

For those new to "Effective Java", it is meant for intermediate to advanced Java developers. It provides best practices, recipes and idioms for working with Java. The author is good about listing both advantages and disadvantages to choose when to apply a tip.

When thinking about my favorite chapter, I have trouble picking just one. I'm torn between the concurrency and enum chapters. The book goes beyond the common "use enums over constants" and goes into things like EnumBitSets.

I learned a lot reading the first edition of this book and learned just as much reading the second. If you have the first edition, but this one anyway. And if you haven't read the first edition, get your hands on the latest copy!
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on June 8, 2015
This isn't a "learn Java" book, but rather a reference about Java best practices. The book is not intended to be read from cover to cover, but to serve as a reference when dealing with different design issues. As more of a tyro, I experienced two things: 1) some of the sections are above my skill level (at least for now); and 2) the book is loaded with preferred implementations that you don't learn in class but you really need to know if you go on to be a developer. Many of these design patterns would also be applicable to other languages. For me, this will be an valuable resource as I progress from programs for class (where if it works it's good, as long as the style isn't really bad) to good Java style. Other than mentors, I haven't found better way to learn really good Java style.
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on May 21, 2008
If you are not too busy at work it probably worth stop writing code till you finish reading this book.

BTW Don't be tempted to save and buy a cheaper first edition.
The second edition has some very important changes and new information.
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on November 11, 2015
The content is good, exactly as I expected. But the book is very poorly printed. The cover looks like it is larger than the original size so it is pretty blurry. The pages look like they are printed at original scale but because of the larger page size there's a really big margin. Overall poor quality of the physical book.
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on November 9, 2010
As I revise and post this review of mine (March 25, 2011), I am delighted to report that the quality of the Kindle version that I've sampled, which include scalable code examples, has been vastly improved! Should you be interested in additional details and the background leading up to this vastly improved Kindle version of the printed book ("Effective Java, Second Edition"), please see the helpful and thoughtful comments that various readers have added to this review including, most recently, by the esteemed author (Joshua Block) himself!

I've owned its forerunner ("Effective Java, First Edition") as well and, as always, I maintain that this peerless book is a fantastic compendium of all things Java, which will help deepen your understanding of the Java programming language. It's right up there with "The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master" by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas!
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on December 2, 2015
The book was not a genuine copy. As others have said in their reviews, the book is larger than the two official copies that float around at work. The cover is blown up and looks extremely blurry. There is no text on the spine or the back of the book. The content on the pages is not scaled to the size of the book, so the margins are massive.
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