Rational Reader Book Review, June 2003

Book review

Java Precisely
by Peter Sestoft

MIT Press, 2002
ISBN: 0-262-69276-7
Cover price: US$14.95
128 pages

Java Precisely is a delightful little book. In just over one hundred
pages, the author presents a practical, concise roadmap/reference for
the Java language. It is precisely right for the Java programmer who,
every now and then, needs to find an answer quickly to a basic Java
question such as "What's the right syntax for declaring and
initializing an array?" This is something you may know when you first
learn Java but not be able to recall quickly later; because Java has
so many other collection classes, you might not use arrays that
often. Fortunately, the answer is readily available in this book.

If you work like I do, you have the Java SDK or J2EE SDK API in a
browser window as you code. That provides the documentation you need
to figure out how to best use the rich set of classes in your
application. But when you come up against a seemingly simple question
about the language itself, the API documentation does not help. Off
you go, to find all the different Java programming books you have
accumulated, thumb through their indexes, and hopefully find the
information you need. But typically, the precise information you are
seeking is surrounded by a lot of "helpful" text, because the book is
probably designed for someone just learning the Java language.

Java Precisely has the information you need in a form that is much
more usable for experienced Java programmers. Although I may never
look at some of the twenty short chapters again, I will regularly
visit others, such as the individual chapters on types, arrays,
classes, exceptions, threads, collections and maps, and input and
output. The latter covers not only the file I/O, but also threads,
sockets, and other things that you may not use as often.

One very nice feature is that the book has plenty of examples. Also,
it is formatted with general language rules on the left page and
examples illustrating those rules on the facing page. So, if I'm
looking up something for which I need details, I look at the
leftpage. If I just have a quick syntax question, the right page
provides all I need.

I am not about to get rid of the dozen or so other Java books I have
-- some may cover other territory, because the Java platform is just
that big. But I am sure to keep Java Precisely in a very accessible
location whenever I find myself writing Java code. It's precisely the
right book for me.

-Gary Pollice
Technical Marketing
Rational Software
IBM Software Group

Original URL (now defunct): http://www.therationaledge.com/content/jun_03/r_java_gp.jsp