Java 6 Platform Revealed

What's new in Java 6, pre-release

Book review It seems it was only yesterday that the Tiger was escaping into the wild, and here we are today with Mustang rearing up ahead, and the Dolphin already surfacing here and there.

Javaists will recognise Tiger, Mustang and Dolphin as Java 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0 respectively, and everyone else can now stop scratching their heads and wondering what this reviewer is on about. And with Java 6.0 on the horizon we can expect a slew of books to follow – either established titles updated or, as in this case, new titles making a first appearance.

The cunningly entitled Java 6 Platform Revealed aims to give the experienced Java developer a fast introduction to the new features that the Mustang release has to offer.

The obvious proviso is that Java 6.0 hasn't been released yet, so the book actually reflects the state of play prior to the official release; leaving open the possibility that some of the details may change in the delivered version. However, with an autumn release still on the cards, it's unlikely there will be major differences between what's in the book and what's released.

Aside from the first chapter, which attempts an overview of what's new in Java 6, the book is structured around the major class libraries starting with java.lang and java.util right on through to look at I/O, AWT/Swing, JDBC 4.0, XML, Web Services and so on. There's also coverage of some of the newest libraries, such as the Java compiler API and Java scripting.

Each chapter opens with a table listing the changes to the appropriate packages – which makes it easy to see the number of changes in interfaces, classes, exceptions thrown etc. While the table gives you an idea of the number of changes, there's no easy way to pin down how deep or important these changes are. The scale of the changes is covered in the rest of the chapter, typically by looking at a specific new or updated feature, showing how things stand now and then showing how the new features solve the problems.

Of necessity, this is a coder's book, with plenty of downloadable source and code listings in the text. While the author doesn't assume "gurudom" in his audience, he does assume that he's writing for active Java developers at home with Java 5.0. The downside of the code-heavy approach is that sometimes the long listings get in the way of the text. However, the writing is generally clear; and the examples are well chosen and the code easy to follow.

Nevertheless, while the book does take a wide look at the extent of Mustang, it could still have done with some more depth when covering some of the landmark changes to the platform.

For example, a major thrust of the next release is Java on the desktop and the inclusion of scripting support (which means that the Java platform will include support for a number of scripting engines, with the Mozilla Rhino JavaScript engine being included as a standard part of the platform). There's coverage of both of these in the book, but given their importance, it would have been good to go into more depth on them.

Java 6 Platform Revealed

Java 6 RevealedVerdict: This book offers a wide coverage of Mustang, but is somewhat limited in depth in some areas. However, its aim is to provide a fast overview of what's new and this it clearly does.

Author: John Zukowski

Publisher: Apress

ISBN: 1590596609

Media: Book

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