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Keywords: Java, JVM
Title: Java 6 Platform Revealed
Author: John Zukowski
Verdict: A concise introduction to core parts of Java 6
It seems like only yesterday that the Tiger was escaping into the wild, and here we are today with Mustang rearing up ahead and the Dolphin already surfacing here and there. Javaists will recognise Tiger, Mustang and Dolphin as Java 5.0, 6.0 and 7.0 respectivly, everyone else can stop scratching heads wondering whether this reviewer is on about. And with Java 6.0 on the horizon we can expect a slew of books to follow - both established titles updated or, as in this case, new titles making a first appearance.
The cunningly entitled 'Java 6 Platform Revealed' aims to give the experience Java developer a fast introduction to the new features that the Mustang release has to offer. The obvious proviso is that Java 6.0 hasn't been released yet, so the book actually reflects the state of play prior to the official release, leaving open the possibility that some of the details may change in the delivered version. However, with an autumn release still on the cards it's unlikely that there will be major differences between what's in the book and what's released.
Aside from the first chapter, which attempts an over-view of what's new in Java 6, the book is structured around the major class libraries starting with java.lang and java.util right on through to look at I/O, AWT/Swing, JDBC 4.0, XML, Web Services and so on. There is also coverage of some of the newest libraries such as the Java compiler API and Java scripting.
Each chapter opens with a table listing the changes to the appropriate packages - which makes it easy to see the number of changes in interfaces, classes, exceptions thrown etc. While the table gives you an idea of the number of changes there's no easy way to pin down how deep or important these changes are. The scale of the changes is covered in the rest of the chapter, typically by taking a look at a specific new or updated feature, showing how things stand now and then showing how the new features solve the problems.
Of necessity this is a coders book, with plenty of downloadable source and code listings in the text. While the author doesn't assume gurudom in his audience, he does assume that he's writing for active Java developers at home with Java 5.0. The downside of the code-heavy approach is that sometimes the long listings get in the way of the text. However, the writing is generally clear and the examples are well chosen and the code easy to follow.
However, the aim of the book is to provide that fast view of what's new and this it clearly does.