I must say it is an honor and a privilege to join everyone at the Java Ranch.
I have long appreciated the excellent work and the friendly faces around here, and the way the Ranch provides a forum for experts to help bring novices up-to-speed in a most accessible way.
In fact, I am so supportive of the work and philosophy of the Java Ranch leaders that I made a special acknowledgement to them in the preface of Just Java. Keep up the good work everyone!
I am looking forward to joining in, and I am excited about the 4 books that Prentice-Hall will be giving away to lucky winners. If the lucky winners email me after they get their books, I will send them a signed business card that they can stick in the front of their copy, and so they will have a signed edition!
Cheers, and thanks again Dick,
Author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0131482114/ref=jranch-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Just Java(TM) 2 (6th Edition)</a>
(And so is my best friend Solveig, who I guess had a little role in your new edition)
You have influenced me in a lot of ways over the years, which includes the original Campfire Stories here on Javaranch.
And while you're here...I have been attributing something to *you* but I can no longer find the original reference, so maybe once and for all I can know for certain if it IS you--I could swear I read in an interview with you that you mentioned that many technical writers suffered from the "Clear Only If Known Syndrome". In the little part of Sun I worked for, we used to try to remind ourselves (often unsuccessfully ) not to do that...
So, am I remember correctly... was that really you in that interview?
Cheers and again, welcome!! -Kathy
Peter van der Linden
Joined: Sep 28, 2004
How nice to hear from you, and by proxy, Solveig. It's the most tremendous boost to hear people say I have influenced them in something. As individuals we have so little influence, just the people immediately around us, and of course everyone is so wrapped up in their own issues of the minute.
But when we write something, and particularly when we put it on the web (I'm at http://afu.com - don't worry I don't keep a blog!) we have the opportunity to positively influence a great many more people than we could ever touch in person. Even if what we write is only about technical matters, we get the chance to pass on ideas about approach, about technique, about discipline, about working well with others. Teachers have a little of this power too: the ability to be an encouraging and good force in the lives of many people at once.
While we did not cross paths at Sun, I was very glad and impressed to learn of your new book Kathy. I am of course referring to "Head First EJB". EJB - Enterprise Java Beans - is an important technique for organizing and re-using server-side software. But EJB has been held back by the lack of good, accessible, easy to follow texts that explain the fundamentals. That's why "Head First EJB" and other good books like it, such as "J2EE 1.4 The Big Picture" are so vital and important.
To turn to your specific question about "clear only if already known" - your impression is correct! In fact, I heard the phrase from a reader of my C book "Expert C Programming". He told me that what he liked about Expert C Programming was that it got away from all the hard-to-read C++ books in which all the so-called "explanations" were only "clear, if already known".
I knew exactly what he meant! In fact, the lousy standard of existing C and C++ books 10 years ago was why I originally wrote Expert C. I got fed up with picking up a C++ book for beginners and reading nonsense like "OOP is characterized by inheritance and dynamic binding. C++ supports inheritance through class derivation. Dynamic binding is provided by virtual class functions. Virtual functions provide a method of encapsulating the implementation details of an inheritance hierarchy"
Cripes! Talk about "Clear Only If Already Known"! That author might just as well have written "OOP is characterized by XYZZY and SNIBBO. C++ supports XYZZY through FLEEP. SNIBBO is provided by GLORK. GLORK is largely about XYZZY." Why would anyone serve up that puzzle? And more to the point, why should readers have to put up with it?
Anyway, don't get me started! That kind of nonsense inspired me to take a fresh approach to books on programming languages, and try to build in some sense of the excitement, interest, and enjoyment that I felt at work in the compiler group, and later the Solaris kernel group at Sun. So first, Expert C, which is still in print today, and enjoying great success still. Then my book Just Java, which has just been released in its sixth edition, and is one of the few books available that is fully up-to-date with generics, enums, even newer I/O, and all the good stuff in Java 5.
You are right about reading of "clear only if already known", Kathy -- I described it in an interview with the wonderful Sun Press editor, Rachel Borden, in 1997. You can even find that article online still at: http://sun.com/971124/cover-linden complete with a picture of me from nearly 10 years ago when I still had a little waist and a lot of hair. Time has now changed those around completely...
Well, I have gone on long enough, thanks for asking the question Kathy, and I hope the reply was not too dull. Cheers,
Joined: Jan 04, 2003
If the lucky winners email me after they get their books, I will send them a signed business card that they can stick in the front of their copy, and so they will have a signed edition!