TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Review-Core Java

Volume Number: 15 (1999)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: Programmer's Bookshelf

Review: Core Java, Fundamentals

by Paul E. Sevinç, Switzerland

4th edition covering Java 2

About This Article...

This article reviews volume 1 of the 4th edition of Core Java [Horstmann and Cornell 1999].

Core Java is a two-volume book-set written by Cay Horstmann and Gary Cornell, and published by Sun Microsystems Press and Prentice Hall. Volume 1, subtitled Fundamentals, has been available since December 1998. Volume 2, subtitled Advanced Topics, will be available some time in 1999.

For simplicity, the 4th edition of the 1st volume of Core Java will be referred to only as Core Java in the remainder of this review.

About The Book...

Core Java is an introduction to Java 2 Platform -formerly named JDK 1.2- by Sun Microsystems. (Note: The first printing still refers to it as JDK 1.2.)

According to the authors, Core Java has been written for experienced programmers, i.e. programmers with experience in at least one procedural programming language (e.g., C or Pascal). I'll let you know who I personally think this book is well suited for at the end of the article.

Core Java consists of 12 chapters and 3 appendices as well as an accompanying CD. The major topics are: object-oriented programming (OOP), graphical user interfaces (GUIs), programming for the WWW, exception handling, and input/output (I/O). The CD contains all of the book's source code and freeware & shareware tools in Solaris and Windows (no Mac OS) versions.

Throughout the book, when appropriate, the authors compare Java to Visual Basic and C++. Not being a Windows developer, the Visual Basic notes were of no use to me. The C++ notes, on the other hand, ease the transition from C++ to Java. Here is a simple example: after the integer types have been introduced, a C++ programmer is told that there are no unsigned integers in Java.

Also, when a new standard Java class is introduced, it is followed by an abbreviated version of its interface which allows for a quick overview of its most important methods. Reprinting all of them in alphabetical order at the end of the book would have been a nice thing.

Introducing Java

The first chapter, An Introduction to Java, is about Java in general: Java's history, how Java relates to the Internet, misconceptions about Java, etc. What I really liked about this chapter is that the authors don't mislead the beginner by blindly following the Java hype. Instead, they state that Java is a good programming language but could have been better, and they also point out that some of the concepts Java is famous for have been around for decades (e.g., Niklaus Wirth made platform-independent compilation popular in the seventies).

Chapter 2, The Java Programming Environment, is Windows specific and can be skipped by Mac-only developers.

Java & OOP

Chapter 3, Fundamental Programming Structures in Java, is the chapter that relies most strongly on former experience in procedural programming (e.g., it explains how variables are declared, not what variables are). It covers data types (primitive data types and strings) and their operators, constants and variables, arrays, flow control (conditional statements and loops), and basic console I/O. In Horstmann's and Cornell's opinion, C++ programmers can skim through this chapter; I don't think so. The differences between Java and C++ are big (or rather subtle) enough to cause annoyances. By investing a little time in carefully reading this material, most of them can be avoided. Programmers with a different background (Pascal, say) probably need to read certain paragraphs -or even the whole chapter- more than once, but they shouldn't have any serious problems either. I missed two things only in this chapter: a short explanation of the difference between do-while and repeat-until loops, and that a simple statement can also act as the body of a loop.

The 4th, 5th, and 6th chapters, Objects and Classes, Inheritance, and Interfaces and Inner Classes, are an introduction to the OOP paradigm and how it is supported by Java. Chapter 4 shows how abstract data types (ADTs) are implemented in Java. But first, some OOP vocabulary is introduced and illustrated using clear analogies. (By the way, the authors also recommend two books on object-oriented design and the Unified Modeling Language; the best introduction to OOP I know is [Mössenböck 1998] which, alas, is not available in English at the time of this writing.) Finally, Java's package concept is explained.

Chapter 5 is likely going to split the Core Java readers into two groups. Those in the first group have some basic experience with OOP and love how fast Horstmann and Cornell get to the point. Those in the second group don't have any OOP knowledge prior to reading Core Java and are confused when done with Chapter 5. So should you forget about Core Java if you're going to be in the second group? Not necessarily; just skip the last two paragraphs about run-time type identification (RTTI) and reflection (these are topics I would rather have expected in volume 2). Matters should become clearer when you see object orientation in action.

Chapter 6 is a short chapter on interfaces (Java's construct for multiple inheritance), inner classes, and cloning (deep copying). In the inner-classes sections, the reader also learns about some compilation techniques and possible bytecode security risks.

GUIs

Despite its importance, the first third of the book isn't very exciting - after all, we do not use PowerMacs because we're fond of console I/O. And even though the core language isn't fully covered yet (exception handling is still missing), a really cool topic is the content of the next three chapters: how to design and implement GUIs.

Chapter 7, Graphics Programming, answers fundamental questions regarding GUIs: What are windows in Java? How can different fonts be used when showing text? Etc. What's important to know is that when there is a choice between a Swing class and an AWT class (UI classes where the former replace the latter which were the only ones in Java 1), the Swing class is used. This future-oriented approach is good unless you have to maintain old Java code. The chapter ends with some simple drawing routines.

Chapter 8, Event Handling, covers the Java event model. As a Mac OS programmer, you're already used to event-driven programming, but Java's events are comparatively high-level (objects vs. constants). Horstmann and Cornell make the whole process of learning about broadcasters, listeners, and multicasting so painless that at the end of the chapter, these concepts almost look trivial.

The 9th chapter, User Interface Components With Swing, is by far the biggest, with more than 150 pages. Every UI element I could spontaneously think of is covered: radio buttons, menus, dialogs, text areas, and many more. (Note: volume 2 will cover some components, such as toolbars, too.) At the beginning of the chapter, the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern is introduced (design patterns are to OOP what algorithms & data structures are to procedural programming [Mössenböck 1998]). Knowledge of MVC is especially necessary for some advanced modifications (i.e., subclasses) of the elements. But these advanced sections can safely be skipped and the authors also say so.

More Core

Chapter 10, Applets, shows what changes are necessary in order to turn an application into an applet - that's the easy part. The tedious part is how to make the applet behave properly on different platforms using different browsers. It's not the authors' fault that this is tedious; actually, they do a pretty good job of showing the possibilities one has with the Java plug-in or with older versions of Java.

Chapter 11, Exceptions and Debugging, could -from a purely technical point of view- directly follow Chapter 6 in order to cover the whole language before the Java classes. But from a pedagogical point of view it was smarter to arrange the chapters the way they are; more so because, oddly enough, exceptions are hardly an issue before Chapter 12. After Java's strict rules concerning exceptions and exception syntax and use have been covered, some debug advice is given. Its essence is: either make no mistakes when coding (...) or get a commercial debugger.

The 12th and last chapter, Streams and Files, is mainly about storing information in files. Again, some of the more technical issues (e.g., how does object serialization work in detail) can be skipped. Some security issues are discussed, too. What's going to be useful beyond file manipulation are the sections about streams, but how they relate to network programming is another topic to be found in volume 2.

Conclusion

Core Java is a book that evolved with Java, throwing away text of older editions to replace it with up-to-date information. It is well suited for self-study (beware: there are no exercices), but if most of your books end with "for Dummies", don't even think about buying this one. The examples are very illustrative, even though I would still consider them toy examples.

Programmers with some OOP experience will find it most useful; for those familiar with Java 1.1 it's overkill. Beginners with little practical programming experience might be overwhelmed unless learning procedural programming was no challenge.

If Core Java: Fundamentals is not the best book about this topic, it is still one of the better. And I am certainly going to take a look at Core Java: Advanced Topics. What about you?

References

  • [Horstmann and Cornell 1999] HORSTMANN, Cay, CORNELL, Gary. Core Java: Fundamentals. Sun Microsystems Press / Prentice Hall, 4th edition 1999.
  • [Mössenböck 1998] MÖSSENBÖCK, Hanspeter. Objektorientierte Programmierung in Oberon-2. Springer, 3rd edition 1998.

Paul E. Sevinç is an EE student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) -where he recently designed and implemented a C++ framework for multiobjective optimization with genetic algorithms- and a student member of the IEEE. He is very interested in Compiler Construction, Operating Systems, and Cryptology, but he also likes working as a swimming coach. You can reach him at psevinc@stud.ee.ethz.ch.

 
AAPL
$99.18
Apple Inc.
-1.57
MSFT
$45.90
Microsoft Corpora
-0.46
GOOG
$568.27
Google Inc.
-9.09

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Cocktail Family License (5 Macs) 7.6.1 -...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Cocktail 8.0 Beta 2 - General maintenanc...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
QuickBooks 2015 16.0.0.1352 R1 - Financi...
QuickBooks 2015 helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save.... Read more
Mac DVDRipper Pro 5.0.1 - Copy, backup,...
Mac DVDRipper Pro is the DVD backup solution that lets you protect your DVDs from scratches, save your batteries by reading your movies from your hard disk, manage your collection with just a few... Read more
Apple OS X bash Update 1.0 - Fix for sec...
The OS X bash Update fixes a security flaw in the bash UNIX shell on OS X 10.9.5 (also on OS X 10.8 and 10.7 [see Related Links below]). OS X 10.9.5 or later Downloads for OS X 10.8 and OS X 10.7 in... Read more
SyncTwoFolders 2.0.5 - Syncs two user-sp...
SyncTwoFolders simply synchronizes two folders. It supports synchronization across mounted network drives and it is a possibility to run a simulation showing in a log what will be done. Please visit... Read more
FinderPop 2.5.7 - Classic Mac utility, n...
FinderPop is a Universal preference pane that extends OS X's contextual menus using a FinderPop Items folder much as the Apple Menu Items folder used to do for the Apple menu. It has other features... Read more
VueScan 9.4.45 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.2.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
calibre 2.4 - Complete e-library managem...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

iKeywi - Customizable 5-Row Keyboard (U...
iKeywi - Customizable 5-Row Keyboard 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to add an extra row to your iPhone/iPad? One of the most popular keyboard extension in iOS... | Read more »
Manage Your Cloud – Wunderlist Now Suppo...
Manage Your Cloud – Wunderlist Now Supports Dropbox Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Nexticy Review
Nexticy Review By Jennifer Allen on October 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: IDEAL FORM CREATIONiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Nexticy allows you to make your own forms for research purposes or to organize your business better. It’s... | Read more »
Tiny Troopers: Alliance Marches onto the...
Tiny Troopers: Alliance Marches onto the App Store Tomorrow Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] Tiny Troopers: Alliance, by Kukouri, is a | Read more »
HeroCraft Introduces Unlimited Sequel to...
HeroCraft Introduces Unlimited Sequel to WW2: Sandbox. Strategy & Tactics Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 1st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
RGB Express Review
RGB Express Review By Jennifer Allen on October 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: DELIGHTFUL PUZZLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Guide trucks along their delivery routes in RGB Express, a testing but charming puzzle game... | Read more »
The Sagas of Fire*Wolf (Games)
The Sagas of Fire*Wolf 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
BuggyFun Review
BuggyFun Review By Amy Solomon on October 1st, 2014 Our Rating: iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad BuggyFun allows children to create their own tracks for bugs to interact with for a unique open-ended experience.   | Read more »
Fold the Adventure Review
Fold the Adventure Review By Jennifer Allen on October 1st, 2014 Our Rating: :: AWKWARD FOLDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fold pieces of paper to create platforms for a princely rabbit in this puzzle game; something... | Read more »
WW2: Sandbox. Strategy & Tactics (G...
WW2: Sandbox. Strategy & Tactics 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: ***NOTE: Compatible with iPhone 4s and up, iPad 2 and up - may not work properly on earlier devices... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon offers 13-inch MacBook Air for $899, $...
Amazon.com has the 13″ 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $100 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air: $899.99 Read more
Apple resting On Its iPhone Laurels? – The ‘B...
Apple calls its new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus “The Biggest Advancements in iPhone History,” but does reality live up to the hype? “Seldom have so many waited so breathlessly for so little,” tweeted veteran... Read more
Roundup of Apple Mac and iPad Education disco...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Apple Boycotts German Magazine Computer Bild...
Apple has revoked its PR accreditation of Germany’s Computer Bild, Europe’s best-selling PC magazine, in reaction to Bild’s posting of a “#Bentgate” YouTube video. Axel Telzerow, editor in chief of... Read more
iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus Available in Chi...
Apple has announced that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available in China beginning Friday, October 17 from the Apple Online Store (http://www.apple.com), Apple’s retail stores, and an expansive... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP, start...
Best Buy has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Prices valid for online orders only, in-... Read more
Apple Releases OS X Mavericks bash Update 1.0...
Apple has released a patch update for OS X Mavericks users to address the recently-detected “Shellshock” security bug in BSD UNIX’s bash shell. Apple says only a few Mac users who had manually... Read more
Pivotal Payments Ready for Apple Pay – FlexPo...
Pivotal Payments, a provider of merchant services and global payment processing solutions, has announced its proprietary FlexPoint platform will support credit and debit transactions through Apple’s... Read more
iStabilizer Announces Tabarm — First Friction...
iStabilizer, a specialist in universal lightweight compact tripods, steady cams, dollies, mounts, and remotes for smartphones, tablets, and cameras, announced today the iStabilizer tabArm, the first... Read more
IStabilizer Flex Smartphone Tripod Wins Usa T...
iStabilizer, a specialist in universal lightweight compact tripods, steady cams, and other products for smartphones, tablets, and cameras, has announced today that its iStabilizer Flex smartphone... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.