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
$111.78
Apple Inc.
-0.87
MSFT
$47.66
Microsoft Corpora
+0.14
GOOG
$516.35
Google Inc.
+5.25

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Monolingual 1.6.2 - Remove unwanted OS X...
Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least... Read more
NetShade 6.1 - Browse privately using an...
NetShade is an Internet security tool that conceals your IP address on the web. NetShade routes your Web connection through either a public anonymous proxy server, or one of NetShade's own dedicated... Read more
calibre 2.13 - Complete e-library manage...
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 librarian... Read more
Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
ScreenFlow 5.0.1 - Create screen recordi...
Save 10% with the exclusive MacUpdate coupon code: AFMacUpdate10 Buy now! ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your... Read more
Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
BBEdit 11.0.2 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
ExpanDrive 4.2.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2014 13.2 - Creat...
After Effects CC 2014 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). After Effects CS6 is still available... Read more
Evernote 6.0.5 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Make your own Tribez Figures (and More)...
Make your own Tribez Figures (and More) with Toyze Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
So Many Holiday iOS Sales Oh My Goodness...
The holiday season is in full-swing, which means a whole lot of iOS apps and games are going on sale. A bunch already have, in fact. Naturally this means we’re putting together a hand-picked list of the best discounts and sales we can find in order... | Read more »
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode f...
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode for Angry Birds Epic Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minec...
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minecraft: Story Mode – A Telltale Games Series Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their...
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their New Game: Tempo Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] WarChest Ltd and Splash Damage Ltd are teaming up again to work | Read more »
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary...
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary with a Bunch of Free Games Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] BulkyPix has | Read more »
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking F...
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking Fever’s new sushi-themed update Posted by Simon Reed on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Lithuanian developer Nordcurrent has yet again updated its restaurant simulat | Read more »
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to C...
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to Celebrate 20 Million Downloads Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Desti...
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Destiny, and Beyond – AppSpy Takes a Look at AAA Companion Apps Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] These day | Read more »
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Fre...
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Free for the Holidays Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

The Apple Store offering free next-day shippi...
The Apple Store is now offering free next-day shipping on all in stock items if ordered before 12/23/14 at 10:00am PT. Local store pickup is also available within an hour of ordering for any in stock... Read more
It’s 1992 Again At Sony Pictures, Except For...
Techcrunch’s John Biggs interviewed a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employee, who quite understandably wished to remain anonymous, regarding post-hack conditions in SPE’s L.A office, explaining “... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Pros for...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Airs for...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: iMacs for up to $...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 1.4GHz... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac minis availab...
B&H Photo has new 2014 Mac minis on sale for up to $80 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459 $40 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac Pros for up t...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $500 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2599, $400 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3499, $... Read more
Save up to $400 on MacBooks with Apple Certif...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Save up to $300 on Macs, $30 on iPads with Ap...
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
iOS and Android OS Targeted by Man-in-the-Mid...
Cloud services security provider Akamai Technologies, Inc. has released, through the company’s Prolexic Security Engineering & Research Team (PLXsert), a new cybersecurity threat advisory. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Store Leader Program (US) - Apple, I...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on experience, Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*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...
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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.