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Java text for Computer Science major

Simon Xu
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Joined: Aug 16, 2000
Posts: 235

I read all threads of this forum and try to figure out the text for my class: Introduction to Computer Science, in a university. Quite a lot of people here proposed the Head First Java, but I found it is a thick one and might not be good for fresh students. Can you suggest alternatives? Many thanks.

Layne Lund
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Joined: Dec 06, 2001
Posts: 3061
My college Java course used Core Java 2 by Cay Horstman, et al. from Sun Press. Of course, the cirriculum required that you already took the beginning programming courses taught with C++. I don't know how good this book would be for anyone with no programming background. From what I've heard of Head First Java, it seems more appropriate for newbie programmers.


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Neeraj Dheer
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Joined: Mar 30, 2005
Posts: 225
i have not had the opportunity to go through Head First Java, but Core Java by Cay, in my opinion, is too heavy for beginners. I normally recommend my students to go through something like Java Complete Reference by Herbert Schildt and then move on to Core Java.

Core Java is an excellent book, but somewhere in the book itself, the authors have stated that they 'assume' a background in programming.
Pauline McNamara

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
Originally posted by Simon Xu:
Quite a lot of people here proposed the Head First Java, but I found it is a thick one and might not be good for fresh students.

Hi Simon. What do you mean exactly by "thick"? Too many pages? It seems hard to believe that Head First Java could be too difficult for new students.

It's been a few years since I looked closely at several different introductory programming books using Java, but I think only one thing has changed greatly: now there's Head First Java. From what I remember of the other options, I couldn't suggest another book that would come close to being as learner-friendly as Head First Java.

Just my 2 cents...

Koen Pelsmaekers

Joined: Dec 21, 2004
Posts: 1
Another interesting approach for teaching Java as first programming language is that with BlueJ: no command line, no "public static void main" stuff, direct interaction with objects, build in editor, ...

We plan to use it next academic year.
Simon Xu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2000
Posts: 235
Sorry that I bring this topic again.

Have anyone reviewed the text by C. Wu, An Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming with Java, 3rd edition?

Yong Bakos

Joined: Jul 18, 2005
Posts: 29
Psheeiit... my intro CS class used SICP....
John M Morrison

Joined: Jul 25, 2005
Posts: 21
I would also recommend the DrJava IDE done by the nice people at Rice University. It has several language levels so the tyro is not bombarded by public static void String[] args and all that nasty stuff.

Their CS201 site is muy useful, especially if you love objects.

I went to their workshop this past July.

I will be starting my beginners at NCSSM with some Python, then move on to an objects-early approach to Java. We will use Head First Java. I read quite a bit of it. It is a very nice supplement to my in-class lectures, programming activities and labs.

I would encourage you all to go look at DrJava. It can also be downloaded from sourceforge

Marcus Green
arch rival

Joined: Sep 14, 1999
Posts: 2813
I think HeadFirst Java would make an excellent introduction to the language. Do not be put off by the size of the book as the book makes good use of plenty of use of white space and illustrations. There is an updated version for JDK1.5. I also loke the look of Dr Java. You might also consider my book Welcome to Java which you can find in the form of an online course at

The course and text are available under a version of the Creative Commons license (i.e. you don't have to part with any money and can make copies to your hearts delight)...and covers approximatly 100 pages.

Contact me if interested.

SCWCD: Online Course, 50,000+ words and 200+ questions
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subject: Java text for Computer Science major