Java progress overtakes guide
I'VE seen the future and it's Java.
OK, maybe it's not the future, but when it comes to the World-Wide Web, Java - the computer language variety as opposed to the brewed beans - has been creating quite a few waves.
Java is an object-oriented programming language being developed by Sun Microsystems which promises to deliver easy-to-create interactive programs which run inside Web pages on browsers across all hardware platforms.
Since the release of Netscape 2 in its beta incarnation - which includes preliminary support for Java applets - the interest in Java has taken off. The result has been several new books for Web authors and Net addicts.
So, it was with great expectation that I picked up a copy of Mecklermedia's Official Internet World 60 Minute Guide to Java published by IDG Books Worldwide.
The book promised that I could learn to create and implement Java applets through three 'easy-to-follow, 60-minute information bites'. Talk about a book for the MTV generation! But five pages into the book I was hopelessly lost.
Authors Ed Tittel and Mark Gaither may know their Java but they seem ineffective in presenting their knowledge to novices.
The book uses terminology from the realm of object oriented programming. This can be confusing to the beginner.
I did not know what a class was or an instance of a class. I quickly realised a beginner could have more difficulty.
When the book finally begins to discuss the basic syntax and structure of the Java language, for instance, we start to see terms such as literal and type, identifiers and comments. They are all used without definition.
Granted, there is a glossary of definitions (although I could not find literal). However, when reading an instructional book, the reader should not need to be flipping to the back of the book to enhance understanding.
That is not to say the book does not contain more than enough information to get you started programming stand-alone applications for the Web.
Contrary to what the cover suggests, the book is better suited to people with experience in object-oriented programming as well as either C or C++.
To add to the problems, Java has recently made some shifts from the Alpha stages of development to the Beta implementation.
However, because of the speed of these developments, the '60 Minute Guide to Java' was written when the Alpha specifications were all that were available. While applets written to the Alpha standard still run on Sun's demonstration browser, HotJava, they will not run on Netscape or future third-party browsers with Java support.
It seems the book is a hasty attempt to capitalise on the mounting interest in Java. But its use is marginal.
I learnt more about Java from reading the newsgroup comp.lang.java.
Mecklermedia's Official Internet World 60 Minute Guide to Java By Ed Tittel and Mark Gaither IDG Books Worldwide. US$19.99