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Head First Java by Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra

Book Review Team
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Posts: 936
<pre>Author/s : Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra
Publisher : O'Reilly
Category : Beginning Java
Review by : Johannes de Jong
Rating : 10 horseshoes
</pre>
Have you ever had the feeling that you simply missed the finer points of a subject that you studied? That was the case with me with Java and OO in general.
Gartner reckons that only 3 of every 10 programmers with my kind of background will make the "technology switch" from procedural to OO. This book can change that prediction.
The best way for me to describe this book is by using the teacher at school that we all have encountered in our school careers. You know the one that enthusiastically drew the most elaborate drawing on the black board to explain his point, the one that simply generates interest in his subject purely because of his sheer love of the subject he teaches. Now imagine that teacher in book form. The Head First way, you're favorite teacher in a book.
This book made me finally grasp some of the key concepts of OO that one needs to know to be able to fully use the capabilities Java has to offer.
If you are a Java programmer that has problems understanding the finer points of the language and OO in general I suggest you go out and buy the book.
I want to end with a word of caution. This book, because of its uniqueness, might not appeal to everybody. I suggest you browse the book before buying. You will immediately know if the book is for you.
(Review is based on the draft version of the book)


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
[ September 25, 2003: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
The above is a "condensed" version of a review I posted at O'Reilly & Amazon. Here is the full review.
I had the pleasure of reading Head First Java as Kathy & Bert turned out the chapters. Though the book has not hit the stores yet, I'd like to share my experience reading the work copy of the book.
I'm a 47 year old programmer that has basically seen it all in my 25+ years in IT. Though I've been busy with Java for more than 2 years, I until recently still saw myself as an absolute beginner. Why you might ask? Well for starters all my Java was simply "hobby" work, I did not use it at work. Secondly, and the most important reason, is that I simply did not understand and grasp some of the key concepts of OO that one needs to know to be able to fully use the capabilities Java has to offer.
As fate would have it, the work copy Kathy & Bert's book became available to me as I started to work in a new department where I have to program in Java. I was drowning. I had to keep on asking the youngsters on the team for assistance. You can’t believe what that does for your self-confidence. But as I read more and more of Head First Java I found myself sitting in tech meetings not only understanding what was being said but I was actually coming up with some fresh ideas that helped us re-design our systems to become fully OO.
Why is that so. Simply because of the unique way Kathy and Bert teach and share their knowledge. The best way for me to describe this book is by using the teacher at school that we all have encountered in our school careers. You know the one that enthusiastically drew the most elaborate drawing on the black board to explain his point, the one that simply generates interest in his subject purely because of his sheer love of the subject he teaches. Now imagine that teacher in book form. The Head First way, your favourite teacher in a book.
I can carry on for quite awhile about the unique style of the Head First way but I suggest you download the sample chapters at O’Reilly or go download the "demo" at Kathy & Bert's own site Wickedly Smart.
What has this book done for me. For one it finally made me grasp Polymorphism, and the use of interfaces. Though I've used it before, like a parrot without understanding, I never saw it's real strength. Now I use it all the time. I can't believe I programmed Java without them. Head First Java turned me into a Java OO programmer instead of a Java procedural programmer. Yep one can write pretty neat procedural programs in Java.
If you are a Java programmer that has problems understanding the finer points of the language and OO in general I suggest you go out and buy the book.
I want to end with a word of caution. This book, because of it’s uniqueness, might not appeal to everybody. I suggest you browse (or download the demo) the book before buying. You will immediately know if the book is for you.
If you want learning to be fun buy this book.
Manish Hatwalne
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Joined: Sep 22, 2001
Posts: 2578

When will it be available in India?
- Manish
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
Bartender

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Sorry Manish I have no idea, I suggest you try one of your local bookstores.
Matt Cao
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Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hi,
Hoping Kathy and Bert reading this, I read the book with my techs this morning in Southern California. My techs did not get the jokes, the mock interviews questions, I guessed because they are not astude in English yet. They loved the puzzles, grasped the OO concept very quick, and complained about the book format introduction, to them it is not necessary to explain the oddity because everyone of us who went through kindergarten and grade schools must understand the book format. They said the Appendix B materials should elaborate more as an additional chapters.
I preferred Head First Java as an independent book not as a side reading despite the fact that I love the format.
Thanks,
MCao
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
complained about the book format introduction, to them it is not necessary to explain the oddity because everyone of us who went through kindergarten and grade schools must understand the book format
Hi Matt. I cant answer for Bert & Kathy, but I must say that it makes sense to me that they explained the "format" of the book. You and your team are correct to say that all of us that went through kindergarden and grade school must understand the format but we all seem to have lost the ability to think / learn that way somewhere after we left grade school.
What Bert & Kathy are doing is so different from the standard way we are thought that I think they should explain it.
In a way Bert & Kathy takes us back to our roots, when we eager 6 year old kids that wanted to learn everything. The way we did it then.
Hope this helps
frank davis
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 12, 2001
Posts: 1479
Originally posted by Johannes de Jong:

What Bert & Kathy are doing is so different from the standard way we are thought that I think they should explain it.
In a way Bert & Kathy takes us back to our roots, when we eager 6 year old kids that wanted to learn everything. The way we did it then.
Hope this helps

They pasted lots of black and white 1950 era photos next to each concept with cute sayings coming out of the mouths of the people. I'm not sure this helps in clarifying the concepts. I am sure the crossword puzzles at the end of each chapter do nothing to help understand the concepts although it may help in rememberiung the terminology. So far I'm half way through the book and although it is an easy read with a clear, entertaining writing style , I'm not as impressed as I thought I would be. Maybe because I already know the stuff they covered (I am SCJP, but no real experience with OO) and haven't encountered anything new (I'll revise this review when I complete the book). Maybe the book is considered good because most of the other beginning books don't dwell on objects enough. A contender in this beginner OO category would be Parker's book called Beginning Java Objects.

Revision 1 : I was actually only 1/3 of the way through the book when I wrote the first review. Of course, immediately thereafter I've been marking various pages of interesting stuff to come back and think more deeply about. The way they have dealt with the relationship of polymorphism and interfaces, and stack/heap details, has began to change my view of the book for the better (not that it was bad before, but that perhaps it was not appropriate for me). I really hope they do another book on OOP only or design patterns.
[ August 27, 2003: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Off course you are correct that they combine lots of old black & white photo's with cute sayings, but I personally believe it is a fantastic aid to share / impart knowledge. Head First Java is still the only Java book, actually IT book, that I sat down and read as if it was novel. It was FUN !!!
The Head First Idea still has to evolve. Head First Java is only the start of a new way that knowledge will be shared.
Personally I think that if you are SCJP that the book won't (actually should not) contain anything new for you.
I still believe that they did help me grasp OO concepts better. But lets face it the only way one will really fully grasp OO concepts, is if one does a few OO projects from start to finish.
My apologies if my review gave you a wrong impression of the book.
ps I'm personally not a great fan of puzzles either
[ August 26, 2003: Message edited by: Johannes de Jong ]
Vishwa Kumba
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Joined: Aug 27, 2003
Posts: 1064
I read a few sample chapters of this book, went thru all the question & answers,took the mock exam as well. I did read other resources also for the SCJP1.4 exam, before I went thru this book.
After passing the exam with a good score,I would confidently suggest this book to anyone who is interested in the SCJP1.4 exam.This would help very much.
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Thanks Vish.
The books sure helps to clarify a few hard to understand "topics" in Java but I would warn againt using HFJ as the only book. It's a Java beginnes book.
I recommend Kathy & Bert's certification book for the SCJP.
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Actually Vish, after re-reading your post I get the feeling that you were refering to their certification book. HFJ has no mock exams in it.
Am I correct ?
Jonas Harbinger
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 23, 2003
Posts: 1
I'm hoping this book will help out, I missed the cert exam by a few questions yesterday .... so maybe I need to approach things differently.
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
Welcome to JavaRanch Jon H! Sorry to hear about your near miss on the cert exam. If you want a book to help prepare for next time, Head First Java is not the one you want (or at least, not the only one). As Johannes mentioned above, Sierra and Bate's certification bookis more appropriate for the SCJP.
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
Oh, and Jon H. -
Remember the naming policy that you read when registering? Your display name doesn't quite fit with our policy (two names, preferably your real name or one that sounds like a real name).
Please take a minute to change your display name to show two names, preferably real names. It's all about maintaining our professional image - don't let's the one-eyed moose fool you!
Hope you'll be visiting the ranch often,
Pauline
Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 936
<pre>
Review by : Thomas Paul
Rating : 10 horseshoes
</pre>
Who do Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates think they are? Don't they know that
learning a programming language is supposed to be hard? Don't they know that it is supposed to involve suffering? Apparently not, as they have written a complete introduction to Java that is fun to read and easy to understand. If we don't stamp this out now, students will start expecting their teachers to be entertaining!
The book is an excellent introduction to Java. It covers all the typical topics of a basic introductory text and some extra including serialization, networking, and distributed computing. Each topic is covered in a fun way with important information highlighted. The authors use stories, fake interviews, pictures, and assorted other clever techniques to catch your imagination and make the topics memorable. There are plenty of exercises (with answers) to help you check to be sure you understood each chapter. And there are plenty of fun programs to code including a cool music machine instead of the typical "reverse a String" exercises.
If you are looking for a traditional text then this book is definitely not for you. Instructors should think carefully whether this book fits in with their style of teaching. This book is not for everyone but if you want to learn Java and object oriented programming in fun and unique way then this is the book you want. Now I just have to figure out how to keep it away from my students.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
Lobo Louie
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 30, 2003
Posts: 4
www.bookpool.com has this title for $22.75.*
* Not affiliated... yada... just a satified... yada... customer... all disclaimers...yada... apply.
Shari Griffin
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 07, 2004
Posts: 6
Where would be the appropriate place to discuss questions that one might have about sections of the book?
I'm only about 70 pages into the book because I'm working through all the puzzles, crosswords, and examples so I'm clear on everything. So far only one puzzle has really stumped me -- the "HeapQuiz" one on page 64. When I get stumped I try and program my way out with lots of println's and stuff, but I just don't understand this HeapQuiz class at all, it's got me a little confused.
Anyone have advice as to where to post a discussion of this example? Or an explanation?
Thanks in advance
Shari
.: tekchic.com :.


Shari<br />.: <a href="http://www.tekchic.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.tekchic.com</a> :.
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Shari I've passed you request on to Kathy & Bert. I think there might be something into, starting a seperate forum for Head First books.
Bert Bates
author
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Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8813
    
    5
Hi Shari!
We're happy that you're enjoying the book, and we applaud your intention to work through all of the exercises and puzzles. We know that they will help you lock in what you've learned, and we hope you find them entertaining.
I'd say that for most of the book, maybe the first 11 chapters or so, the beginner's forum would be a great place to discuss topics in the book. After that I'd move my questions to the intermediate forum. If you get really deeply into a topic, you might try the SCJP certification forum.
As far as the HeapQuiz goes, it would be tough to actually write a program to help you solve this one (oops, maybe that'll be a challenge for someone ), the idea is to draw the objects and references on paper, and update their relationships manually as you work through the code. There will be more on this kind of thing in the garbage collection chapter, and garbage collection is also a big topic in the SCJP forum.
good luck!
Bert


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Book Review Team
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Joined: Feb 15, 2002
Posts: 936
<pre>
Review by : Pauline McNamara
Rating : 9 horseshoes

</pre>
I wish this book had been around a few years ago when I first starting learning to program with Java. It's perfect. Aimed at not-quite-raw beginners with a little scripting experience, Head First Java hits the target. It covers the basics (and some) well enough for ambitious beginners too. If you're not new to Java you won't be disappointed either - while explaining programming concepts Sierra and Bates pass on lots of insight. You'll learn not only the what and the how, but also the why, as if a brilliant friend were sitting down with you at the computer, talking you through each point. Over coffee. Reassuring you about the slippery parts (with stuff like "don't worry about [insert tougher concept here] that comes later"). Lots of exercises keep you and your brain busy, with enough variety to pick the ones that suit you. True to the book's subtitle, "Your Brain on Java - A Learner's Guide", the authors prove that using conversational tone, lots of graphics, goofy humor and examples that you can relate to are really what make it stick, AND enjoyable. If it had a little thinner errata list and a little thicker index I'd call it flawless. Do your brain a favor and feed it this book.


More info at Amazon.com
More info at Amazon.co.uk
Shari Griffin
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 07, 2004
Posts: 6
Aha thanks for the tip! I'm absolutely loving the book, in fact when I have to pull out other references or go to study other topics :: cough... .NET cough :: I find my eyes are glazing over with boredom these days.
I'm now ruined for other tech books Learning this way has been immensely helpful though, I find myself doing a lot of drawing in the margins of my other reference books now, and not going through only one text book at a time. I've started picking out a concept and reading it from several sources, and trying to find a video/program explanation while I'm on the one concept. Seems to help seal the information in better when you bring in the info from all different directions and media.
I wish there were "Head First" books for about 15 other topics I'm trying to learn! Kudos on a fantastic concept and a well-written book
Johannes de Jong
tumbleweed
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Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
I'm now ruined for other tech books
I know the felling
Jeff Langr
author
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Joined: May 14, 2003
Posts: 762
As the review states,
> This book is not for everyone
From what I'm hearing, Head-First Java is a top-notch book... if you're into learning "that way." I picked up the book and thumbed through it and instantaneously knew that I wouldn't be able to deal with it. However, I took the time to read a few segments, and it looked like it presented the concepts very well. Nice job. Interesting series--it also sounds like it's selling quite well.
-Jeff-


Books: Agile Java, Modern C++ Programming with TDD, Essential Java Style, Agile in a Flash. Contributor, Clean Code.
miguel lisboa
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Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
i read the reviews and, interested in the book, i went to the book site and downloaded the .jar file; what happens is that i cant open it: says something about missing manifest main class...
is that a bad sign of what is the book or am i doing something wrong?
tx


java amateur
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24183
    
  34

Sounds like you're trying to run the JAR file of sample code. It's not an executable JAR, it's an archive. Open it with jar xf <filename> .


[Jess in Action][AskingGoodQuestions]
miguel lisboa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
i made this:
C:\MyPath>java -jar xf codeKitchens.ja
r
Exception in thread "main" java.util.zip.ZipException: O sistema n�o conseguiu l
ocalizar o ficheiro especificado
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.open(Native Method)
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.<init>(ZipFile.java:112)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:117)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:55)
[ February 14, 2004: Message edited by: miguel lisboa ]
Lasse Koskela
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 11962
    
    5
Originally posted by miguel lisboa:
i made this:
C:\MyPath>java -jar xf codeKitchens.jar
That command is trying to execute the .jar file. Try
C:\MyPath>jar -xf codeKitchens.jar


Author of Test Driven (2007) and Effective Unit Testing (2013) [Blog] [HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch]
miguel lisboa
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Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
doesnt work either...
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24183
    
  34

Well, the error message you got before
"O sistema n�o conseguiu localizar o ficheiro especificado"
Means, if I can trust my rudimentary knowledge of Portugese, "The system cannot find the specified file" -- i.e., there's no file named codeKitchen.jar. To deal with this, you would include the full path to the file, or "cd" into the directory where the file is located, first.
Note that a "jar" file is actually identical to a "zip" file -- you can open and unpack the file using something like WinZip if that would be easier for you.
miguel lisboa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
the msdos points to the file where jar is
here are several diferent trials:
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel>java -cp "C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os
meus documentos" -jar codeKitchens.jar
Exception in thread "main" java.util.zip.ZipException: O sistema n�o conseguiu l
ocalizar o ficheiro especificado
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.open(Native Method)
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.<init>(ZipFile.java:112)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:117)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:55)
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel>cd C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus doc
umentos
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -jar -xf C:\Documents a
nd Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Unrecognized option: -xf
Could not create the Java virtual machine.
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -jar C:\Documents and
Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Exception in thread "main" java.util.zip.ZipException: O sistema n�o conseguiu l
ocalizar o ficheiro especificado
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.open(Native Method)
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.<init>(ZipFile.java:112)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:117)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:55)
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -jar -xf C:\Documents a
nd Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Unrecognized option: -xf
Could not create the Java virtual machine.
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -jar C:\Documents and
Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Exception in thread "main" java.util.zip.ZipException: O sistema n�o conseguiu l
ocalizar o ficheiro especificado
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.open(Native Method)
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.<init>(ZipFile.java:112)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:117)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:55)
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -cp -jar C:\Documents
and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: C:\Documents
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -cp; -jar C:\Document
s and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Unrecognized option: -cp;
Could not create the Java virtual machine.
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -cp .; -jar C:\Docume
nts and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos codeKitchens.jar
Exception in thread "main" java.util.zip.ZipException: O sistema n�o conseguiu l
ocalizar o ficheiro especificado
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.open(Native Method)
at java.util.zip.ZipFile.<init>(ZipFile.java:112)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:117)
at java.util.jar.JarFile.<init>(JarFile.java:55)
C:\Documents and Settings\Miguel\Os meus documentos>java -cp .; -jar codeKitche
ns.jar
Failed to load Main-Class manifest attribute from
codeKitchens.jar
Pitty your good portuguese understanding dont suffise to sort me out of this...
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Please refer to Lasse's message above. You can't run the jar file with the java command. Try using WinZip to open the file. I would suggest that you continue this conversation in the intermediate forum since this has nothing to d owith the book itself.


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
miguel lisboa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
ok, i got it: jar isnt working as expected (one clicks on it and some app pops up) but works instead just like a zip; so, to see what's inside, use open with\zip and so on.
thanks alot to everyone who helped.
note: i was getting kind of disapointed because i had just ordered the book from amazon and that jar not openning was a bad start
Michael Sullivan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 26, 2003
Posts: 235
This is a general question for Bert Bates/ Kathy Sierra (or anyone who knows). I ordered both HF Java and HF EJB. So far, I'm really enjoying HF Java, and its really filling in gaps of my knowledge. I'm looking forward to the HF EJB text, but then I noticed that Sun has a new(?) cert out, the SCMAD. I'm hoping that Bates and Sierra extend the Head First teaching into the SCMAD arena. Anyone have any idea if/when they may do so?
Thanks,
Michael
Pauline McNamara
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 19, 2001
Posts: 4012
    
    6
Hi Michael,
This thread is specifically for discussing Head First Java. You might want to take a look at this thread about what's coming in Head First, and add your question to that discussion.
miguel lisboa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
i did bought the book
i've one Q:
in pag 106 at the left bottom, its said: (and i quote)
lucky for you, we have some left brain building exercises on the headfirstjava website.
As i dont wanna be "screwed" - as the book refers - can someone pls give me the link, as i cant find it?
thanks in advance
miguel lisboa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
hmm i guess no answer because no link!
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by miguel lisboa:
hmm i guess no answer because no link!

According to page xxv of the book, the book's website is headfirstjava.com.
miguel lisboa
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 08, 2004
Posts: 1281
According to page xxv of the book, the book's website is headfirstjava.com.

yes, i know that one, and precisely because i cant find what i'm looking for in there, that's why i'm posting :roll:
j beltz
Greenhorn

Joined: May 26, 2004
Posts: 3
I need some help. I found the answers to the exercises for the first half of Head First Java on the book's website. Does anyone have the solutions for the second half?

Thanks!
Nadine Ernest
Greenhorn

Joined: Dec 10, 2008
Posts: 27
i actually loved this book!
its funny!
it simplifies my learning of java!

i downloaded it at [DELETED]

you can search it
itis amazing!!


nadine


[Henry: Site Deleted]
 
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subject: Head First Java by Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra