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Learning Java, Second Edition 2nd Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596002855
ISBN-10: 0596002858
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jonathan Knudsen is an author at O'Reilly & Associates. His books include The Unofficial Guide to Lego Mindstorms Robots, Java 2D Graphics, and Java Cryptography. He is the Courseware Writer for LearningPatterns.com.


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Product Details

  • Series: Java
  • Paperback: 826 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596002858
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596002855
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #776,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
I have experience in C but not C++. Prior to this I tried to read Eckel's thinking in java which I found to be overly pedantic and at times, irritating (with many exercises trying to display arcane syntactic or semantic points). In comparison this book is very refreshing and I feel I am learning new stuff really easily.
This book is dense but motivates using simple code. Explanations may not be complete (esp in Chap 2) but really this is a good compromise.
This is definitely for someone with a background in programming (preferably in C or C++). Ideally one should have a programmers editor on and keep trying the code snippets as one reads (which is why the online version at safari.orielly.com is handy). So, in a sense, this book is not for the uninititated. But for those who have some exposure this is well worth the money and effort.
The author also has a useful open source tool (BeanShell) which suggests some depth.
Some Tips for readers new to java on windows:
1. Download and install jdk 1.4.x
2. Get a simple programmers editor (editplus.com for example)
3. Get Jikes compiler as a replacement for javac (copy it to the jdk bin directory) as its really fast and use it to compile within the editor.
4. Make sure your classpath and path variables are set properly. The former could include the jdk jre/lib/rt.jar and . the current directory; the latter could include the jdk bin dir. in XP these can be set using the controlpanel advanced setting for environment variables
Once you can experiment with the code as you read, it becomes more interesting.
I would say the book deserves at least 4 stars; I am giving it a 5 to offset some really low ratings :-)
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Format: Paperback
This book came as a surprise. O'Reilly is generally great in the "learning" space (Learning C# and Practical C Programming are great), but Learning Java misses the mark by comparison. Learning Java is definitely not a new-to-Java text.
This is not my first Java book, so I expected the first chapter to contain the ordinary byte code/virtual machine/OO discussion that is de rigeur. However, this text takes the opportunity to launch into a discussion of the class loader; Java's similarity to Smalltalk in that they are both statically typed, late-bound languages; threads; dynamic memory allocation et al. And yes, that's the *first* chapter.
The complexity continues: the second chapter's "intro" program (the also de rigeur K&R "Hello World") begins with a simple system.out.println and --- over the course of 20 pages --- adds a complete UI, two synchronized threads, a try-catch exception handling block and multiple classes. All this with minimal (a sentence or two) explanations of what's going on. At this point, I put the book down.
It is apparent that the authors know the material and are excited about it. However, this is certainly no introductory highway to Learn Java. The subtitle to the book, "Help for New Java Developers" should have the following appended: "Who have years of C++ experience, have read another Java book and want the dense technical nitty-gritty."
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Format: Paperback
Approaching this book as a C/C++ programmer with essentially no knowledge of Java, I was not disappointed. "Learning Java" provides a broad overview of the many facets of Java, and it makes sure to point to other resources when the coverage is superficial. While many topics *are* only covered superficially, the sheer size of the Java APIs makes this necessary; at 826 pages, the book is certainly not a piece of fluff.
Contrary to many reviewers' opinions, I appreciated the conceptual overview that preceded the more concrete chapters; I find that addressing the 'why' first makes the 'how' more intuitive. If you disagree, just skip to Chapter 4 to get started with language constructs!
This book does not always spoonfeed the material; some of the examples require analysis to 'get'; however, I found the accompanying explanations to be sufficient, and I learn more when I have to pay attention. There are plenty of other reference books out there that provide more fluff...
My biggest complaint about "Learning Java" is the lack of attention paid to the examples. Several of them had small, silly errors that prevented them from working as written. For instance, one of the intro examples had a method call that didn't match the signature. In a later chapter, a variable was referenced by an incorrect name. In each case, I was able to fix the problem without difficulty, but it illustrates the lack of attention to detail. When one of the first examples in the book won't compile as written, you are bound to frustrate some readers.
Also, formatting in the examples could be challenging. The coding style tends to be compact and perhaps confusing when learning the language.
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