Convenient and complete,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Java Developers Almanac (Paperback)
Reference books follow an odd evolutionary path. The most successful reference books strive for heft - the bigger the better - often approaching prehistoric proportions. But sooner or later there comes a book that defies tradition and manages to be complete without breaking your desk, or your wallet. Patrick Chan's "Java Developer's Almanac" is that book.
The first thing you'll notice about this book is the convenient form factor. This is 5.5"x8" book is small enough to carry comfortably and lays flat next to a keyboard without taking up the entire desk, but it is not so small that the print becomes indecipherable. It is truly printed in the style of an almanac - the same paper, the same form factor. That would be enough to make me buy it even if it didn't contain some great stuff inside.
For the most part the book contains prototype declarations for every public and protected member of every Java class, all 18,837 of them. How do I know there are that many? Because one of the most interesting sections consists of statistics gathered from every Java release since 1.0. In addition the book contains detailed listings of what has changed - omissions and additions - between every Java release, including PersonalJava. Seeing the definitive list of changes from one version to another was fascinating (although it shows what a shambles the compatibility story is.) Nonetheless this book manages to capture the vary latest changes up to Java 1.2b3. It is just staggering to consider that there has been an order-of-magnitude growth in the number of methods since Java1.0!!! That's why I need this book.
The prototypes are organized alphabetically by class making it easy to find just what you are looking for. There are notations where necessary for methods that are only available under certain Java versions. For each class, the inheritance hierarchy is reproduced and what interfaces that class implements is noted. Even though the contents are organized for speed, I like brow! sing this book just to get a feel for breath of the Java class landscape. Thankfully I will never need most of the 1592 classes and interfaces in the Java 1.2 class hierarchy but it's nice to know they're there in case I do.
Unlike some authors that have let their Java books get mouldy while the language evolves, Patrick Chan has been writing and revising java reference books since he left the Java development team at Sun. He was one of the first people to write any substantive Java applets back when the whole Java group fit in one (small) room. Since then he has written or revised at least three (or more?) books on Java.
I think this book will prove to be a useful addition to any experienced Java hacker's bookshelf. For newbies, this book in conjunction with a Java tutorial will show you that learning Java, the language, is only the beginning of learning Java, the class library.