REVIEW - The Java Developers Almanac 1999

Title:

The Java Developers Almanac 1999

Author:

Patrick Chan

ISBN:

0201432986

Publisher:

Addison-Wesley Publishing Company (1999)

Pages:

861pp

Reviewer:

Francis Glassborow

Reviewed:

June 1999

Rating:

★★★☆☆

If you are a serious Java developer I think you need this book.

Reviewing this book is like reviewing a dictionary, difficult because even the most ardent reviewer is not going to read it all. I am going to break with my normal form by quoting a substantial part of the author's preface. I think you will see why.

There was a time, not long ago, when I intimately knew all of the Java class libraries. I knew how it all worked and exactly how everything fit together. I knew what subclassed what, what overrode what, and so on (of course it helped that I was one of the original developers :-). But aside from the occasional inability to remember which argument of Vector.insertElementAt() is the index, I rarely had to refer to any reference documentation.

With 1.1, my mastery of the Java class libraries was reduced to half. This left me feeling a little disoriented since I no longer knew my way around , and the increased size of the libraries exceeded my ability to recall the details of the signatures. When I took a peek at version 1.2, I was initially thrilled by all the new functionality I would now have at my fingertips. But as I browsed the new classes, I began to realize that my expertise was being reduced to just a tiny fraction. I felt lost in this wonderful but vast sea of classes.

Since I make my living writing Java code, it was important that I find an efficient way of "navigating" the new libraries. What I wanted was a quick overview of all of the libraries; something that covered every class and briefly showed their relationships; something that would allow me to explore and quickly learn about the new packages. This need led to this book.

This is not a book to learn from in the more conventional sense. Think of it as a dictionary with minimalist definitions and you will not be far wrong. If you are a serious Java developer I think you need this book. I think that need says a lot about what has happened to Java over the last three years. Perhaps every large scale computer language evolves its own form of complexity.


Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.