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With the second edition of Absolute Java, best-selling author Walt Savitch offers a comprehensive introduction of the java programming language. This book gives programmers the tools to master the Java language. He takes full advantage of the new Java 5.0 features and incorporates the new Scanner class. There is comprehensive coverage of generic types, including how to define classes with type parameters, collection classes done as generic classes, and linked lists done with type parameters.
Posted July 26, 2005
The book excels at teaching a reader new to either Java or any programming language. Savitch goes comprehensively through the core classes that come with the standard Java distribution. Also, he uses Java 5, which is the latest major release of Java. If you are going to start learning Java, you might as well start here, instead of using a text that deals with earlier versions. It turns out that Java 5 also gives notational simplifications, which may help the new programmer. For example, suppose we have 'int i' and 'Integer x'. In earlier versions of Java, you would have had to write 'i=x.intValue()' to assign from x to i, or 'x=new Integer(i)' to assign from i to x. Experienced Java programmers will shrug and say, 'so what?'. But they don't need this book anyway. For a beginner, some of the earlier Java notation or formalism can be bulky. But now in Java 5, you can just say 'i=x' or 'x=i' and the JVM makes the appropriate conversions internally. So long as you understand this, the new notation is better. It makes the code more concise and readable. Which even for experienced programmers should be desirable. Easier to understand and debug. It should be said that Savitch goes much further into other aspects and improvements in Java 5. Without gainsaying his efforts, I think the above is the most understandable thing to appreciate about Java 5. Another positive aspect of the book is the plethora of worked out examples and problems in each chapter. For the latter, answers are also furnished at the ends of the chapters. But if you want the most out of this book, retain enough self discipline to devote serious effort to the problems before checking the answers. Savitch also brings up the topic of patterns. It reflects a roughly 10 year old realisation in computing about the importance of this to robust and rapid coding. And it also aids in the efficient communication of solutions between programmers. Seeing it migrate to a beginner's book like this is a good sign. If you can learn just the overall concept of a pattern, as well as several specific and important patterns given in the text, then you get off to a good start in programming. In any language. Sure, when you don't even know the syntax of Java, patterns can seem a little abstract. Just like interfaces. But when you get around to writing thousands of lines of source code, or having to maintain or extend such code bodies, then patterns and interfaces really show their utility. Note in passing that the book is not really an algorithms text. The most involved it gets in this aspect is a brief discusssion of sorting methods. If you're after algorithms implemented in Java, try elsewhere.
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