The Barnes & Noble Review
Head First Java is a beginning Java primer like you’ve never seen before (and believe us, we’ve seen plenty). This book makes Java fun. No, that doesn’t do it justice. Imagine learning Java from Robin Williams. (The comedian, we mean. If you can imagine him as a truly great Java programmer.)
Synapses firing, new ideas, new connections, attitude all over the place: That’s Head First Java. (Where else can you watch Java objects expose their inner secrets on Java Tabloid TV? Or learn why Lucy really keeps her variables private?)
Hilarious captioned photos. Text that’s actually funny (and we don’t mean the kind of “alleged” funny you’ve seen in computer books before -- the kind that makes you cringe). Games. Puzzles. Mysteries. “Be the compiler” exercises. Great analogies.
And all these goodies weren’t bolted on at the end to enliven a deadly narrative or fit a format. They’re here to make the ideas come alive. And it works.
If you prefer to be lectured, if you prefer a rigid format where you know exactly what to expect every time you turn the page…look elsewhere. Head First Java has a surprise waiting on pretty much every spread. Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates, and the gang at O’Reilly figure that people learn best when they’re fully engaged. When they’re being tickled. When they’re on the floor laughing. (And the latest research in cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology backs them up.)
In Chapter 1, you’ll build your first app -- not Hello World, but your own personal Phrase-O-Matic. Then, it’s straight outta main() -- or, as the authors put it, “We’re leaving this dusty old procedural town for good.” You’ll learn why objects are better through an imaginary competition between Larry, the procedural programmer and Brad, the OO guy (winner gets the cool Aeron chair).
Next, it’s on to primitive and reference variables. Think of ‘em as cups. Think of 64 and Double 64 primitives as Starbucks Grande cups. Java cares about type and won’t let you put a Giraffe into a Rabbit variable: “What happens when someone tries to ask the so-called Rabbit to hop()? You’ll get to know life -- and death -- on the garbage collectible heap. There’s a full chapter on object behavior and on encapsulation (“do it or risk humiliation and ridicule”).
One big idea at a time, you make it through every Java fundamental. Solving problems with the Java Library APIs. Inheritance. Object-oriented design. Serious polymorphism, and interfaces: “the caffeine in Java.” Constructors. Memory management. Garbage collection. Java math (static methods and variables, math methods, wrappers, and number formatting). Exception handling. GUIs, event handling, layout managers, and Swing components. Object serialization. File I/O. Networking and threads. Even getting your code ready for release (e.g., code organization, packages, executable JARs, and Java Web Start (which launches your application for the first time as a web browser and then runs it on a stand-alone basis).
Throughout Head First Java, you’ll also find answers to the “dumb questions” other books don’t deign to answer. Oh, and plenty of “Ready-bake code.” You’ll never forget this Java book -- or what you learn from it. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.