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Head First Java In The Future That Lies Ahead

 
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Hi Kathy, Trisha and Bert!

I have a few questions and your responses would be appreciated.

1. Spring is one of the most sought after skills in the Java ecosystem and it's basically a framework based on Java. A requirement to learn Spring is to have a good foundation in Core Java. Would the Head First Java, 3rd Edition adequately  fulfill this requirement?

2. For anyone who wants to start using or learning Java EE(Jarkata) or  Spring, would the Headfirst EJB and Head First Servlets and JSP books, provide any relevant reference or prerequisite reading material for these newer technologies?

3. Going forward, would we expect to see a new Head First Java Edition more frequently now, so as to try and keep up with the Java Release Cadence, because Java still appears to be evolving at a fast rate?

It would be good to hear your feedback.
 
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I can't make any promises, but the Head First team is thinking about making "Head First Spring". It might happen, it might not, and even if it does, it would be a while because we haven't even started.

I would say that very little of HF EJB would still be useful. Some of HF Servlets might be, but it would be hard to know which bits are important.

As for future editions, remember that this is a beginner's book. A foundation before reading other books. I would say that future editions will be driven by how many new Java features are appropriate for a beginner's book.
 
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1. Yes, we had Spring (along with other common frameworks) in mind when we wrote the book, so we do lay the groundwork in Head First Java for you to go off and learn Spring (for example, we cover Annotations and where they're used, which is important for understanding and writing Spring code.

2. I'm not sure I can comment on this in this day and age. I was writing Java EE code, Spring code, and using JSPs and servlets "back in the day" and reading "Head First Servlets and JSP" significantly improved my understanding, and my code. However, most frameworks these days hide a lot of the details of the servlets that sit under these frameworks, and we're often using JavaScript or other technologies to write the UI (not raw JSPs). So, these older books may provide some useful background and understanding of how the core, under-the-covers technologies work, but at the syntax and configuration level, I think both Spring and Java EE have moved on a long way since then. Spring itself has really good reference documentation and tutorials, and there are lots of great tutorials out there on the web by third parties.

3. I would love to keep Head First Java moving at a way that keeps pace with Java (but not a new book every 6 months!!). I think we'd have to look at when big new features come out and see if that's worth adding to the book. Maybe one huge feature (like lambdas and streams, and generics, in the past) or a number of smaller-but-important ones (like the upcoming updates to concurrency, or more pattern-matching features) might make it worthwhile updating the book. One of the things I personally realised when helping to write this update, is that developers who are beginners don't need to know ALL the new features. In my day job as a Developer Advocate I was often teaching developers all the new syntax as it came out, but in reality a) very few organisations are using the latest version of Java as it comes out and b) some of these features are small enough, and understandable enough, that if you come across them in the real world you'll probably understand it.

Another challenge is that we don't really see "common practices" for new features until people have been using them for a couple of years at least. You could argue that Head First Java 3rd edition is a bit late for Java 8 (lambdas and streams), but it actually gave us the advantage that we could focus on teaching just the bits that developers have actually been using.

Head First Java needs to focus on the very core of Java, give a good grounding to all the basics, and the developers should be equipped to level up further as they go out into the real world.
 
David Ngwenya
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Thank you Trisha and Bert for an elaborate response to my questions. Truly and greatly appreciated.

I hope too, that the Head First Team will eventually decide to come round and do a Spring Head First, Microservices Head First and write books on other new and trending technologies out there.

Consider this 3rd Edition another addition to my Head First Library which by the way is slowly growing 🙂.

Kind Regards,
David.
 
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This is an interesting discussion. If there is a plan to write a book on spring, how about quarkus? Will you guys wait for few years to see if quarkus adopted to main stream. I know recently Netflix started using quarkus.
 
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Trisha Gee wrote:. . . not a new book every 6 months!! . . .

Even Cay Horstmann has stopped trying to write a new book for each Java® version. Nobody would buy that many books!

beginners don't need to know ALL the new features. . . .

Does anybody use all the new features at all? What do you say about such features? Do you say, “There are other features but this book isn't big enough,” or do you simply keep quiet about them?
What about “new” features like try with resources and using a Path object to read a file? Half the people on this forum seem not to have heard of them, and they have been out for thirteen years.
 
David Ngwenya
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Just to share my understanding regarding features.

One thing I have realised about a certification in any language is that you get to learn the breadth and depth of a technology and all its features. Therefore if you are certified, you can be a better asset in any project setting because you know what the technology entails, ie, its capabilities and limitations for providing a solution, for any project.

When I used Java in a project some years ago, I was mainly creating SOAP services and only when I decided to prepare for my Java OCA 7 certification two years later, did I realise that Java is indeed broad with lots of features I wasn't aware of. I guess the type of project one engages in, dictates what features are applicable to providing a solution for the project. Some projects may require less or more features and maybe that's why we may not know all the features a technology has.

But that's just my take regarding the features of Java.

Keen to hear what others have to say.
 
Trisha Gee
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Does anybody use all the new features at all? What do you say about such features? Do you say, “There are other features but this book isn't big enough,” or do you simply keep quiet about them?
What about “new” features like try with resources and using a Path object to read a file? Half the people on this forum seem not to have heard of them, and they have been out for thirteen years.



Yes great point. Our approach was to cover those features we've seen a lot "in the wild", and therefore chances are most Java programmers will need to use them, or at leasr read them, during their career. For that reason, features like try with resources, Path, new IO (even some of the stuff that was around when the old book was written but didn't make it into the book), and "small but super helpful" features like underscores in number literals were included into this version. Other features that were in the second edition, but have since been replaced, or generally fallen out of use, have been removed from this edition, or the topic slimmed down.

Languages evolve, and embracing that is part of the challenge of this job!
 
Don't get me started about those stupid light bulbs.
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