- Series: Head First
- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2nd edition (February 19, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0596009208
- ISBN-13: 978-0596009205
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 642 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From the Publisher
About 'Head First' Books
We think of a Head First Reader as a Learner
Learning isn't something that just happens to you. It's something you do. You can't learn without pumping some neurons. Learning means building more mental pathways, bridging connections between new and pre-existing knowledge, recognizing patterns, and turning facts and information into knowledge (and ultimately, wisdom). Based on the latest research in cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology, Head First books get your brain into learning mode.
Here's how we help you do that:
We tell stories using casual language, instead of lecturing. We don't take ourselves too seriously. Which would you pay more attention to: a stimulating dinner party companion, or a lecture?
We make it visual. Images are far more memorable than words alone, and make learning much more effective. They also make things more fun.
We use attention-grabbing tactics. Learning a new, tough, technical topic doesn't have to be boring. The graphics are often surprising, oversized, humorous, sarcastic, or edgy. The page layout is dynamic: no two pages are the same, and each one has a mix of text and images.
Metacognition: thinking about thinking
If you really want to learn, and you want to learn more quickly and more deeply, pay attention to how you pay attention. Think about how you think. The trick is to get your brain to see the new material you're learning as Really Important. Crucial to your well-being. Otherwise, you're in for a constant battle, with your brain doing its best to keep the new content from sticking.
Here's what we do:
We use pictures, because your brain is tuned for visuals, not text. As far as your brain's concerned, a picture really is worth a thousand words. And when text and pictures work together, we embedded the text in the pictures because your brain works more effectively when the text is within the thing the text refers to, as opposed to in a caption or buried in the text somewhere.
We use redundancy, saying the same thing in different ways and with different media types, and multiple senses, to increase the chance that the content gets coded into more than one area of your brain.
We use concepts and pictures in unexpected ways because your brain is tuned for novelty, and we use pictures and ideas with at least some emotional content, because your brain is more likely to remember when you feel something.
We use a personalized, conversational style, because your brain is tuned to pay more attention when it believes you're in a conversation than if it thinks you're passively listening to a presentation.
We include many activities, because your brain is tuned to learn and remember more when you do things than when you read about things. And we make the exercises challenging-yet-do-able, because that's what most people prefer.
We use multiple learning styles, because you might prefer step-by-step procedures, while someone else wants to understand the big picture first, and someone else just wants to see an example. But regardless of your own learning preference, everyone benefits from seeing the same content represented in multiple ways.
We include content for both sides of your brain, because the more of your brain you engage, the more likely you are to learn and remember, and the longer you can stay focused. Since working one side of the brain often means giving the other side a chance to rest, you can be more productive at learning for a longer period of time.
We include challenges by asking questions that don't always have a straight answer, because your brain is tuned to learn and remember when it has to work at something.
Finally, we use people in our stories, examples, and pictures, because, well, you're a person. Your brain pays more attention to people than to things.
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 javaranch.com, 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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I like that it gives you problems to work on and understand before moving on. Beginning Java Programming for Dummies, doesn't do that and I find it hard to just read and comprehend.
Anyway, good book overall for the right person.
I learn by doing, and writing real code is the best way for me to learn, not working through some nonsense puzzle. If you learn the same way, do what I did; get Java installed and IDE set up before you start and write your own code.
This book is better than any Java college textbook.
It is very easy to read and understand and the author provided exercises to check the readers' understanding.
Instead of pages of dry text and syntax they've taken the approach to introduce a concept, give some "usually" runable code examples and further reinforce the concept with pictures/diagrams, humor and then wrap the chapter up with puzzles and other exercises. If you're starting out learning Java this is a great first step.
More than once when a rather complicated concept was introduced and I went, "Huh?", the authors would continue to clarify the concept. They know the source material very well and seem to know the primary target audience very well.
I had read some of the other reviews and one person claimed to have finished the book but stated the fact that they didn't learn enough to write any Java code. I find that statement impossible to believe. Even just working through the chapters you write lots of small programs from games to a music synthesizer. This book is intended to be the first step on your path to learning Java and while you won't be a master Java programmer after reading it, you will most definitely be on your way to building a solid foundation.
This book does expect the reader to have decent knowledge of computers and at least some basic knowledge of programming concepts but other than that each chapter introduces the concepts in nice bite-sized chunks.
My community college class only covered half the book but this book is easily useable for self-learning. I plan to re-read the book from the start and then continue through the 2nd half.
My advice: Go on a website like codingbat.com to learn the fundamentals of Java classes (strings, numbers, arrays, etc) and then read this book. Without having any hands-on experience in Java, you probably won't find the book's lessons to "click" in your mind. I'm on my third time through the book, and am finding it to be "great, but not perfect".
Long story short, it's a book for beginners AFTER getting some basic exposure to Java.
Even though it is 10 years old, it is still useful and relevant as ever, and could be one of the best general introductions to modern programming I have ever read. I have now read through this book twice, and I am not even a Java developer. It has made me a much better programmer on every level with the other languages I do use because it helped me to really think about Object Oriented Programming and design, and the more advanced ways to leverage OOP to build better programs, much more quickly.
This book is best suited for those who like to understand why they are doing something before learning how to do it. This is conceptual and theoretical first, and then shows you how to build things with those concepts.