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Keywords: Reference, Java API

Title: Java Developers Almanac 1.4

Author: Patrick Chan

Publisher: Addison Wesley

ISBN: Vol 1: 0201752808, Vol 2: 0201768100

Media: Book

Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Verdict: If you need frequent and fast access to API info you need this. Not a volume for learning the language though.

Buy UK Vol 1 Vol 2

Buy US Vol 1 Vol 2

One of the comments that's often made about the Java Developers Almanac is that it's about the size of a telephone directory and about as interesting to read. I guess that's true enough as far as it goes, but it misses the essential point - sometimes a phone directory is a whole lot more useful to you than anything you get online.

Given the huge size of the Java API's, the aim of the Almanac is to provide at a glance documentation. As you'd expect, this makes the Almanac plenty big and heavy. But it's useful, and with it around you find yourself dipping in more than you'd imagine. The core of the book is a listing of the of what's in each class, along with prototype and arguments and an indication of which version of Java it first appeared. The revision listings, showing what changed in each major release is also extremely useful, particularly if you're constrained by having to support an older system or JVM.

The design of the book is extremely clean and it makes navigation very simple. You can find what you need fairly quickly, which is one way in which it beats surfing through online material.

Along with the listings there are a snippets of code which show how to use some of the classes and methods that are described. These snippets are really useful, and, in a major plus point, are available on the Java Developers Almanac web site so they can be cut and pasted into your own code. But this is a bonus really, having a quick printed reference to the API is what makes this an essential purchase for any Java developer.

The first volume covers 91 core packages, including java.beans,, java.lang, java.math,, java.nio, java.sql, java.text, java.util, java.xml, CORBA and more. The second volume, which is just as bulky as the first, focuses more on the GUI side of things, and details java.applet, java.awt, javax.swing, javax.print, javax.sound and a more. Together these two volumes should provide all the API reference you ever need.

It should go without saying that this is a book for the active developer. This is definitely not a book that can be used to learn Java. If you need to learn the language then look at an introductory text - not here!

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