Java In Easy Steps, 7th Ed

Author: Mike McGrath
Publisher: Easy Steps
Date: August 2019
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1840788730
Print: 1840788739
Kindle: B00EZTAULQ
Audience: Java beginners
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Alex Armstrong

Will this slim book it get you off the starting blocks learning the huge Java language?

Java is a big language and it has a huge infrastructure around it - so you can't expect a slim volume like Java in Easy Steps to tell you everything you ever need to know about it. In this case the real question is will it get you off the starting blocks?

The most important thing to know about this approach to learning Java is that it uses the command line. You use a general text editor to construct programs and you use the command line compiler to compile and run them. This is a very minimalist approach and, as there are easy to use and free IDEs that make working with Java so much easier, it is difficult to see why the book avoids using them. One possibility is that if it had opted for NetBeans, say, then it would have alienated readers wanting to use Eclipse or IntelliJ. However, as it is an introductory book it could simply have taken the approach that no matter what IDE you want to use in the long run you might as well start with this one.. where "this one" is a choice the author could have made.

On the other hand there are people who think that you should know how to work from the command line so that you really understand what is going on. You can take your pick but if you use this book its the command line for you.


After explaining how to download the JDK, the first example is a traditional "hello world". No problems with this and you should be able to follow the instructions and understand what is going on.

From this first program, Java's features are introduced one by one via short explanations and examples. The book has a tendency to mention the fine detail while the reader is still grappling with the bigger concepts. For example, immediately after introducing the idea of variable there is a list of reserved words that you can't use. From here we go rapidly from simple data types, through expressions, and on. The presentation is clear, but if you haven't a clue what programming is all about you are going to find it hard going, simply because of the pace and the attempt to be complete. This isn't a gentle introduction that comes back to the topic later to fill in the missing parts - it tells you pretty much everything.

After looking at elementary operations, control structures are introduced and, again, there is no attempt to introduce the basic control structures (such as loop and if) and then elaborate later. Instead we work through if, if else, switch, for, while, and so on including breaking out of structures.  Next we move on to casting, arrays, parameters etc. A quick introduction to Java classes precedes a look at working with data - arrays, strings and random numbers.  Onward at a very fast pace we next look at building classes and objects - scope, inheritance, instances, encapsulations and so on.

The next section takes a bit of a breather and consists of a collection of topics linked by being about data manipulation  - files, console input, sorting, dates, currency and so on.

At last we reach a discussion of creating a user interface via the Swing library. Of course, as no IDE is in use, the whole thing is tackled using nothing but code and no designer is used to generate the code. This is probably a good way to introduce the whole idea of classes and objects, but instead it has been left as an advanced topic late in the book. Finally, we have a section on events and one on deployment including Android apps.

This really is a lightning introduction to Java and, as long as you aren't a complete beginner or have some external help, it's a fine way to find out about programming in Java. The entire presentation is colorful and the style friendly. It's just too fast and too complete for the absolute beginner. If you are a fan of big complete examples then you will be disappointed because the examples provides are no more than snippets. Again, you need to be sufficiently up on things to realize how things can be used for real.

This isn't a book that will suit everyone. It could well prove useful if you are trying to get up to speed in Java and know another language. If you fit this description then you will find this slim volume just right to get you on the road to reading a much thicker and much more intimidating text on this large language. 

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Data Structures & Algorithms in Python

Author: Dr. John Canning, Alan Broder and Robert Lafore
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Date: October 2022
Pages: 928
Print: 013485568X
Kindle: B0B1WJF1K9
Audience: Python developers
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Mike James
Data structures in Python - a good idea!

Software Development Pearls

Author: Karl Wiegers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-0137487776
Print: 0137487770
Kindle: B09BF6CS9T
Audience: General developers
Rating: 2
Reviewer: Ian Elliot
Who can resist a good pearl or two?

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 November 2019 )