Feeds

Thinking in Java, new 4th Ed.

A new edition of an established classic, re-evaluated.

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Book review The trophy cabinet full of awards and prizes that Bruce Eckel has won for his ‘Thinking in Java’ attests to its classic status. And, despite it having been available as a free download, it’s also been a perennial best seller. Now, with the release of a new, fourth, edition, does the book still warrant the accolades? And does it remain one of the key titles to recommend to new Java programmers?

Thinking in Java

Whatever else you can say about the book, a quick read it is not. It now weighs in at a massive 1,400-odd pages. However, this isn’t bulk for the sake of it, Eckel provides fairly comprehensive coverage of the language, the core libraries, databases (JDBC), all manner of graphics (AWT/Swing is de rigeur for a Java book, SWT something of a rarity), interfaces to the native platform with JNI and more. And let’s not forget an introduction to object orientation, with a smattering of design patterns along the way.

This edition catches up with Java 5 and bills itself as ready for Java 6. This means more than a quick addition of a chapter on generics, (which does exist, of course), it also means that much of the rest of the book has been suitably generified. Coverage of enums, auto-boxing, for each loops, varags and the rest of the new stuff is also integrated into the text.

In addition to the scope, Eckel makes sure that there’s depth to his explanations. His primary tool for this is code. The book is littered with snippets of code, usually very short but complete programs that illustrate a point but often don’t actually do anything useful. Where others attempt to create code that is generally useful, Eckel prefers code that makes a specific point. There’s no big project running through this book, no shiny bit of software built up over the course of those 1,400 pages.

Eckel tends not to be especially verbose, the writing is direct and to the point, a bit like his succinct bits of code. This is matched by the design of the book: huge blocks of text with little variation in type-face, a lack of colour and a dearth of pictures (ok, there’s an occasional screen-shot, but even those are of the monochrome variety). It’s a pretty forbidding package, in all.

All of this is significant. ‘Thinking in Java’ is indeed a great book for learning Java and object oriented development, but it’s not a book for programming beginners. This is a book that’s best suited to existing programmers who want to make the switch to Java. If you’re a C or C++ programmer, for example, then making the switch to the Java - or C# come to that - mindset is more than a simple matter of learning a new syntax. Eckel’s book is about helping the reader make that change.®

Thinking in Java, 4th Ed

Verdict: If you don’t know your arrays from your enums then this really isn’t the place to start. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced programmer switching to Java…

Author: Bruce Eckel

Publisher: Prentice Hall

ISBN: 0131872486

Media: Book

List Price: £42.99

Reg price: £34.39

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Be real, Apple: In-app goodie grab games AREN'T FREE – EU
Cupertino stands down after Euro legal threats
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Bada-Bing! Mozilla flips Firefox to YAHOO! for search
Microsoft system will be the default for browser in US until 2020
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.