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Java the Complete Reference, 8th Edition

Book Review Team

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 932
Author/s    : Herbert Schildt
Publisher   : Oracle Press/McGraw Hill
Category   : Advanced Java
Review by : Campbell Ritchie
Rating        : 7 horseshoes

Always open the Amazon links for these reviews: examine the contents and a few sample pages. We have a lot of pages; 1100 for $60.00 is good value for money. I suspect the binding may not last many years; maybe I'll need a new copy soon!
The "tutorial" in "Part I" moves (I think) too quickly for beginners, so I'll review it as "Advanced". I think it is intended for experienced programmers who already understand object-orientation. It covers all the basics, and is easy to read. It includes the first explanation of Object#wait() and Object#notify() which I really understood! The "tutorial" covers syntax before object-orientation, and encapsulation only appears after classes are described.
"Part II" goes through the packages, describing their classes and interfaces. Maybe a list of classes could have been replaced by a link to the appropriate page of the API, and the text might not have gone so "fast"? The collections framework section describes all the classes, including legacy code, but doesn't analyse the Set interface with those nice methods which implement set union and intersection. Most classes are demonstrated with short examples. In some cases the examples are obviously abbreviated to save space. The coverage is comprehensive and up-to-date for Java7.
"Part III" shows examples of use of Swing, Beans, and Servlets, and "Part IV" some larger example applications.
I found only two things I took exception to: the %n tag "inserts a newline character", and java.util.Scanner.nextLine() "returns the next line of input as a String."
I would have preferred full-blown object orientation, encapsulation, etc., from the start.
But this is a book I shall be pleased to have on the shelf, which I shall make sure to read lots from.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

More info at Amazon.com
Book Review Team

Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 932
Review by : Rob Spoor
Rating        : 6 horseshoes

This book doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. It claims to be a reference but fails at that point. Its definition of reference seems to be listing a lot of methods with little explanation. If I want that I can use the Javadoc pages for free. Even worse, it chooses to describe obsolete classes like StringTokenizer, Stack or Dictionary, but only briefly mentions more interesting features like cookie handling and the concurrent collections. It does list the latter, but doesn't tell me which one I would need in which situation. The book also gives too much attention to applets (in combination with AWT, not Swing), while ignoring more interesting packages like java.util.logging and java.util.zip almost completely. It tries to describe servlets (in just over 20 pages, definitely not enough), but fails to even mention JDBC. It would have been better to either add a few hundred pages, or drop some topics altogether.

The book appears to try to be a book for beginners as well. While it does explain the basics, it rushes through them at times. I don't think beginners will like that. I think that Head First Java or even Oracle's own tutorials are better choices to learn the language. What's left is several chapters that experienced programmers already know.

Now this isn't a bad book. It does handle several of the new Java 7 features like the Fork/Join Framework, NIO2 and try-with-resources, and some topics like Formatter rightfully have longer sections. I also really liked the chapter on images. However, it doesn't add much that you can't find in Oracle's own tutorials and online Javadoc pages.

I'd like to add one thing that really surprised me. While the book is updated for JDK 7, the author doesn't appear to know that the wrapper classes (Integer, Long, etc) have valueOf methods to wrap primitives. I can't remember him using them even once, choosing to use a constructor each time instead.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing this review on behalf of CodeRanch.

More info at Amazon.com
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subject: Java the Complete Reference, 8th Edition
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