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Beginners Book Shoot-out

John Logan
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 02, 2002
Posts: 6
Hi folks,
Hoping you can give me your opinions on two beginners books. I can really only afford one or the other, as I feel I�ve wasted time and money on books that didn�t really suit me before. This time I want to get it right!
I have �beginners experience� with Pascal and VBScript although I can�t claim to have ever really studied hard on either language. I�m coming to Java to learn a programming from the ground with what seems to be a very �pure� language. I�m not really interested in doing graphical programming yet, and I�m quite happy with the console box.
I have no formal education with programming, although I�d hope to change this after a year or so with Java, by looking at Uni/college courses.

The two books I�m considering are:
Learn to Program with Java by John Smiley
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0072131896/103-8468947-4642258
Just Java 2 by Peter van der Linden
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0130320722/103-8468947-4642258
I know that �Just Java� has been received well here, but how does it compare to the John Smiley book? Are there any other books that can lay a cliam to the �ultimate� beginners title?
Many thanks all,
Michael Morris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 30, 2002
Posts: 3451
Hi John,
Here's one that helped me when I was learning Java:
Core Java 2, Volume I
You can even buy it used at half.com for about $10.
I would also advise you to pick up a book on Object Oriented Concepts.
Hope this helps,
Michael Morris


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction. - Ernst F. Schumacher
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
If you're coming at programming as a beginner (or nearly so), Just Java 2 isn't really for you. Nor is Core Java 2, in my opinon, though that's probably closer. I think the Smiley book is your best bet, from what I've seen of it. However, the book's style is a bit unusual - most of it is prose descriptions of conversations between a professor and his class. Check out the sample pages at Amazon to get an idea (though he's not in the class yet in those samples). Some people (well, me at least) find this style kind of annoying, so check it out first. However the presentation is very good otherwise, IMO.


"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
Anthony Villanueva
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 22, 2002
Posts: 1055
You can also try Deitel & Deitel, or Horton. HTH.
Matt Kidd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 261
Since you said you have no formal training in Java but have programed a little in Pascal and VBscript I would recommend the Deitel & Deitel book Java How to Program (4th Edition). I am currently using this book to a)refresh my memory on java programming b) study for my java cert and c) punish myself.
This book has an excellent approach to teaching the java language. Even though I have read Just Java 2 -Fundamentals and understood that perfectly, the Deitel book is slow going as I am doing as many if not all of the assignments in each chapter in an attempt to "remember how to ride a bike" so to speak. If you have the diligence I would recommend the Deitel book with the caveat that you will only get out of that book what you put into it.
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
Try Thinking in Java by Bruce Eckel. It is free. Download from http://www.mindview.net/Books/TIJ/
It is excellent book better than training CDs costing my $1,000.
I am reading is cover to cover.
Anthony Villanueva
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 22, 2002
Posts: 1055
You should also check out the books in the Bunkhouse.
John Logan
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 02, 2002
Posts: 6
Thanks all,
I think the only way to tell would be a visit to the bookstore to check them both out. The Amazon samples are okay, but it's not the same as randomly flicking through to get a feel for a book.
I have the Deitel & Deitel book, although I'd planned on getting some basic experience first with a real beginners book. I've also got Bruce's book (in PDF form), as this seems to be almost universally liked. However, it seems a little tough for me at the moment.
Thanks again.
John
[ August 06, 2002: Message edited by: John Logan ]
Bosun Bello
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 06, 2000
Posts: 1510
These two books are also very good. Beginning Java 2 By Ivor Horton and Beginning Java Objects by Jacquie Barker.


Bosun (SCJP, SCWCD)
So much trouble in the world -- Bob Marley
Eric Pressler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 21
I used Eckel's book and loved it. But it does assume that you have a C or C++ background. I know C (not C++) prior to using this book and, in my opinion, it worked just fine but may not work as well for someone coming from Pascal and VBS.
Barkat Mardhani
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 05, 2002
Posts: 787
I did not find that THINKING IN JAVA by Bruce Eckel assumed prior knowledge of C or C++. Although it compares Java with C & C++ alot. My background is in Visual FoxPro.
Eric Pressler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 21
In the introduction of his book, Bruce says "Of course, the book will be easier for the C programmers and more so for the C++ programmers..." and I think it's true... I don't recall anywhere in his book where he went over the C-like syntax that Java uses as a base. Maybe we shouldn't use words like mandatory... I was thankful for some C knowledge prior to learning Java.
By the way... for 20 years I programmed in IBM 370/390 assembly language with just a hint of COBOL... for me learning C then Java was the correct path and learning C only took a month of reading a text book and doing programming assignments in the evenings... all self taught.
Janet Wilson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 16, 2002
Posts: 98
John,
Here's my 2 cents.
1. Don't let the title fool you re: the thread which I started re: "Learning OO Concepts and Java 2 for Mainframe developers" - many people offered some really good ideas. I created the same thread in the Sun beginners forum and got additional good ideas.
2. Having said that, here's what I have discovered...
a. Thinking in Java - highly praised but IMHO not for the real beginner. Probably very good and even has some CD's ($40 US per CD, I believe) that accompany the book.
b. Look at the "1's and 2's" on the amazon sites, etc. for the book reviews. These are the people who did not like the book for some reason and I find their input even more helpful for me to decide if I want to consider purchasing the book. Sometimes, the 1's and 2's are ridiculous statements which gives the book an even higher "grade". Otherwise, you'll spend so much time analyzing books that you'll get analysis paralysis.
c. So that you don't break the bank, absolutely look into the used book vendors from amazon and other places. I have done remarkably well stocking up a library for my company. Sometimes the books have a big sticker on the back of it but no highlighting. At 25% of the book price, I can live with the sticker! Also, if the books turns out to not work out so well, you won't feel so bad if you donate it to the library or use it as a door stopper, etc.
d. And, now, here's the books I would recommend for Java 2 (notice, not just 1 because I have not found that 1 author covers all the concepts clearly or in the order that I think works best for our staff):
=====>1. Java Programming for the Beginning - KN King
=====>2. Core Java 2 - Vol 1 - Fundamentals - Cay Horstmann
=====>3. Java 2 A Beginner's Guide - Herbert Schildt
=====>4. Java for the COBOL Programmer - E Reed Doke (I wouldn't bother with this book if you're not from the COBOL world)
=====>For OO, I've been using: Applying UML and Patterns - Craig Larman and am looking into some other books
I hope this gives you a good start. Good Luck with your educational pursuit and let us know how it works out!
Janet
[ August 06, 2002: Message edited by: Janet Wilson ]
Eric Pressler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 21
Janet,
In my opinion that was more that $.02 worth. But I believe we can still give you change for a dollar.
John Logan
Greenhorn

Joined: Aug 02, 2002
Posts: 6
Yes thank you Janet, some really excellent and useful information there.
I agree that the 1's and 2's are always worth reading. I think I may go back at some point and add some reviews of books I've read. I'll try to balance it out
 
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