Learn to Program with Java
||Author: John Smiley|
List Price: $39.99
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Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media (02 November, 2001)
Sales Rank: 54,531
Average Customer Rating: 4.62 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 4 out of 5
It does the job but short on examples.
I am new to programming except a couple of lessons in BASIC which I took almost 20 years ago. I have a business degree but I always wanted to get into coding just for my own fun. I bought this book because I wanted to get the easiest there was out for a total beginner who wants to self-study. I selected JAVA following some programmers' advice because it is a great and relatively easy language to get into without getting too much frustration right when you don't need any... at the beginning.
I must say the book did a good job satisfying my basic goal. I do understand some major concepts and I was already been able to do my own little and very basic programs. So far I flew through the chapters. I am currently at Ch 9 out of Ch 13 in 12 days spending 6-8 hours with it every day. I flipped through the next chapters and I can see the most difficult part of this book is behind me.
If you don't want to read the rest, than let me state right here that I do recommend the book. For $28 you can't go wrong, it is definitely worth it. Unfortunately I still can't give 5 stars for the following reasons:
This book indeed is easy to understand, too easy. I think if you have been good at subjects like math or any subject involving logic, this book might not be enough. I felt the book was not dense enough for me.
The author uses a dialog like method where you learn through the questions of other students of him. While the conversations are easy to follow, after a while they become predictable and repetitive. Due to this classroom atmosphere often only a few lines of actual core information is included per page. My guess is that the total page count could have been cut down by 40%. Sometimes you feel you want to jump a line but since there are no text book style summaries, or definitions highlighted as one would expect it, you never know when you will miss an important point. For the same reason I had hard time referring back to, or locating a specific item even with the help of the index. Apart of a handful of figures, notes, and tables the major body of the book is text, mostly conversation.
My biggest problem however is the lack of examples. There are example lines of code in every chapter but they are very simplified and it is hard to understand their real life value or how a specific item can be useful in a different situation other than printing out a line to the console. I would have loved to see less "chit chat" and more examples after each new concept. But the way this book goes is: You get a new concept, then you see how you can display "I love Java!" in a more and more complex way, your main project gets updated with this new concept at the end of each chapter (but it still does the same function). The consequence of this is that you can't always see real life value, when at the same time you do understand the concept. I had to come up with my own little programming ideas (i.e. a financial calculator) through which I managed to tie some loose ends.
Another shortcoming was that the book did not tell me how to set up my Win XP for JAVA. It was not difficult to find the needed info on the internet, but I can see how some real beginners would have problems setting up paths under XP. There is some URL mentioned to Sun's site but only a half page of text out of the 500 pages could have saved me some 2 hours of frustration trying to make the complier work.
Final verdict in short:
This book is a good intro book. It provides a good an understandable frame of the major concepts but one must do practice examples to make the concepts stick. I have already ordered my next JAVA book from Dietel with the example collection. So I feel ready to advance to the next level thanks to this book. Well... after all the above.... Professor Smiley did teach me some JAVA from scratch. My criticism is due to the fact that I feel with some additional and colorful examples, and with a little less conversation this book could have been:
1. lot better
3. as a result of #2, involve more concepts
Rating: 5 out of 5
Terrific for beginners
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is a newcomer to programming. Most of the other books on java assume some level of understanding of object-oriented languages. They often raise more questions in your mind than they answer. Mr. Smiley's approach is unique, in that he gradually builds each principle upon the previous one. He anticipates virtually every possible question a student might have, and explains the answer clearly and thoroughly. I read this book concurrently with Sams Teach Yourself Java 2 in 24 hours. After completing the books, I am not an expert programmer, but at least know enough to ask the right questions.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Best introductory technical book I've read
In short, if you really want to get the basics of Java, buy this book.
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