REVIEW - The Java Programming Language 4th Ed


The Java Programming Language 4th Ed


Ken Arnold, James Gosling, David Holmes




Addison-Wesley ()



Paul Thomas


August 2006



Now this is more like it! A proper language text with dense, value for money, trustworthy content. None of your namby-pamby tutorial here, lots of caffeine is needed to read it. Java is often dismissed (mainly by C++ programmers) as a language written for children frightened by the sharp edges of a real language. They should have a skim through this and see how much is actually involved.

The book is actually billed as a tutorial, but those parts are very light. If you need a gentle worked pace, then you won't get far with this one. It starts with a quick tour to give you a feel for the language, then methodically moves through just about every aspect of syntax, primitives and core library classes. As the material moves toward the (huge) class libraries, it becomes more reference-like with lists of selected class methods. At just about every point, the reference material is mixed with rationale, advice on common usage and examples to place it in context.

This is a no-nonsense description of the language that can help you get up to speed very quickly - particularly if you are familiar with similar languages. It also has enough depth that you can be confident not to have missed something. It won't help if you are new to programming. Make no mistake, this is programming for grown-ups and my copy is likely to become worn through heavy use before long.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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