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Keywords: Java, object oriented programming
Title: The Java Tutorial: A Short Course on the Basics
Author: Sharon Zakhour et al
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Verdict: A concise but dry introduction to Java
The online Java tutorials published by Sun are a great free resource for beginning programmers or for existing Java developers looking to pick up on a particular API or library. But it's not just available online, it has always been available in hard copy too. Now into a fourth edition, and updated for Java 6.0, 'The Java Tutorial: A Short Course on the Basics' delivers a concise introduction to the core components of the Java language and platform.
As you would expect this is a fairly fast moving introduction to Java, going from installation to deployment in a single volume. Along the way there's an introduction to syntax, classes and objects, inheritance and interfaces, generics, packages, exceptions, basic I/O, collections, concurrency, regular expressions and more. It's a fairly wide list of topics to tackle, particularly when you consider that entire books have been devoted to some of the items in that list. Despite the breadth of topics, the book sticks to the job of providing an understanding of the basics rather than attempting to got into great depth.
The fact that generics, collections and regular expressions are included in a pointer to their importance. It's difficult to imagine a modern Java introduction which does not include them. Similarly the chapter on concurrency is a sign that in the multi-core world multi-threaded applications are increasingly common. Surprisingly then the book also includes a chapter on applets, a legacy technology for many people. It should also be noted that an appendix contains information on how to prepare for the Java Programming Language Certification exam.
As well as the samples in the book, there are also questions and exercises to complete. The accompanying CD includes both the sample code from the book as well as answers to the exercises. Additionally it contains the JRE, JDK, API documentation etc.
While this book doesn't quite make it as one of our Java book recommendations, it's a solid piece of work that provides short, snappy introductions to a wide range of topics.