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Wicked Cool Java: Code Bits, Open-Source Libraries, and Project Ideas Paperback – 28 Nov 2005
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About the Author
Brian D. Eubanks is a consultant, speaker, author, and trainer specializing in Internet technologies and the founder of Eu Technologies, Inc. He has more than 20 years experience as a computer programmer, network engineer, and systems consultant. His current work focuses on Java, XML and Flash.
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The book also explores the more interesting parts of the Java language itself such as using the AWT Robot class for automating key/mouse events, using the new enum types in Java 5, and several off-beat applications of the various Java classes that handle XML data.
None of the ideas shown here lead to full blown applications that will make you rich. Instead, the idea is to get you thinking in creative ways about what can be accomplished with the Java language and also to introduce you to some interesting open source API's that are out there on the web that are both labor-saving and creative. I would recommend this book to any experienced Java programmer. I notice that Amazon does not show the table of contents so I do that here:
Chapter 1: Java Language and Core API
Chapter 2: String Utilities
Chapter 3: Processing XML and HTML
Chapter 4: Crawling the Semantic Web
Chapter 5: Math and Science
Chapter 6: Graphics and Data Visualization
Chapter 7: Multimedia and Sychronization
Chapter 8: Fun, Integration and Project Ideas
"Wicked Cool Java" seems to fit squarely in the realm of the cookbook style of programming books. Each topic of discussion is punctuated with short code examples, and while many of the topics stand on their own, some do build on previous topics. The presentation and explanation are clear and the code is sufficiently illustrative.
I do have a couple of problems with the book. The first two chapters are "Java Language and the Core API" and "String Utilities." Given the stated objectives of the book, I have a hard time seeing where the first two chapters fit in. These chapters simply explain various aspects of the core Java language. Some of the information covers new Java 5 additions to the language, but much of it covers features that have been part of the language since 1.4 and even 1.1. In my opinion, there is nothing "wicked cool" about anonymous classes, for example. This is just one example of a basic feature of the language that I would think most people picking up the book should already be familiar with. The new Java 5 features discussed, Java 1.4 regular expressions, and the difference between "==" and "equals()" are but a few of the topics here that seem out of place. My other gripe is that URLs aren't given for most of the APIs under discussion. Instead the author expects us to visit the book's website for this information. While this isn't a big problem, it certainly is annoying.
Complaints aside, I did enjoy reading about many of the APIs that I was unfamiliar with. The text does inspire me to want to try out some of the material presented therein, which is after all what Eubanks was trying to accomplish. So while I might not call it "Wicked Cool", "Kinda Cool" might be a bit more appropriate.
1. Basic Java language and the core API
2. Working with strings
3. Processing XML & HTML
4. Semantic web and RSS
5. Scientific and mathematical applications
6. Graphics and data visualization
7. Multimedia code
8. Random project ideas
I really like the writing style and examples in this book. With over 100 different tips and tricks within, this is a great resource for becoming a better Java programmer. Better yet, it's laid out in such a way that you don't just read the book, you enjoy it. No Starch has one of the best template styles of all the different publishing houses out there, and it's less work and more play reading one of their books.
This was never meant to be a resource, more a book full of tips and tricks and it screams it. Coming in at just over 200 pages, I felt that more content could have been included. That's not to say that the stuff contained within isn't worth reading (it is), but at 250-300 pages I feel that this book would be more worth the retail price (at its current length I would have been happier with a price around $5 less).
This book is great for amateur and experienced Java programmers, not a resource for people who are looking to LEARN Java. This is the main distinction between this and many other Java books out on the market. If you want to pick up another book to add to your collection and a fun book at that, I would recommend you take a look at 'Wicked Cool Java'.
Each series seems to have their place in the O'Reilly spectrum. There are books for learning a technology (Head First), books that are references for the technology (Nutshell), books that list problems and their solutions using that technology (Hacks, Cookbooks), and books that are for just exploring (Developer's Notebooks).
The Wicked Cool series (actually associated with O'Reilly-owned No Starch Press) seems to be for people who know the core technology, and are looking to explore more of it (but not the standard stuff you would find elsewhere) without necessarily trying to solve specific application problems. The Cookbooks may cover standard problems and solutions, and the Hacks books may offer short and sweet tricks for enhanced productivity, but the Wicked Cool series seems to be about things you didn't even know existed that would be FUN to explore. Today's fun project could be tomorrow's real-world assignment.
I already had the Tiger Developer's Notebook, and this book begins with many aspects of Tiger covered there, but it goes on to cover RDF, SVG, MIDI, declarative interface design, and more. Some of these are topics you won't see covered in any of the other series, for sure. If you have an interest in any of the topics covered here, this book is a good introduction. What's lacking is depth of coverage in many cases--for example, just two pages in total on Lucene?
All in all, a great exploration of areas in Java I might not have otherwise had the chance to explore--for fun today, for who knows what tomorrow.
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