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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Cookbook, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Ian F. Darwin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Invaluable reference guide


Ok, You've been writing Java code for months, maybe even a couple of years. Objects aren't anything special... they're just the natural way to do things. You don't even need to LOOK at the Servlet API anymore. You might even have a SCJP or SCWCD under your belt.
Then, for the first time in years, it happens: you need to interact with a real, honest-to-god file sitting on the hard drive. Or parse a String into a Date object. And this time, you can't just throw the job at Tomcat or JDBC and let it do the dirty work for you. And to your absolute horror, you realize that you don't have the slightest clue in hell how to do it in Java.
That's right... simple, trivial things like file i/o. Something stupid, like reading a text file into a String. After cursing Gosling and Sun for a half hour for not giving String a constructor that takes a File object as its argument and making things that should be trivially easy to do needlessly complicated [ok, all in unison... 'if ((foo != null) && (foo.equals("whatever")))', vs. 'if (foo == "whatever")' ...], it sinks in: You don't know how to do it. Well, OK, that's not quite fair. You have a general idea. Hell, you did it all the time in Perl and C++. You know it probably has something to do with java.io.File, and following the deprecation chain from java.util.Date will lead you to java.util.Calendar. But the devil's in the details, and trying to figure out how to do it from the javadocs alone isn't exactly the most efficient way to burn an afternoon. Especially since all the nice, convenient methods that let you ignore ugly things like character encoding were deprecated LONG ago. Ditto for date parsing.
OK, so you dig out the old books you haven't touched in months, maybe years, on introductory Java. They ignore the topic completely. File I/O? Date parsing? Ewwwwwwww. That's *so* 20th century. Objects, Swing, and j2ee are SO much sexier and profitable to write about. What? You really DO need to soil your hands and do it? Well, you'll have to look elsewhere.
That's where this book comes in. It covers all the non-glamourous stuff that 99% of the books on Java more or less ignore or gloss over. Things like I/O. Text handling. You get the idea. The stuff that everyone wants to just delegate to the servlet container or database, but occasionally you really DO need to deal with directly. There's not really anything in this book that you can't find online. But that's not the point... you can blow an hour or two scavenging the info and experimenting to make it work, or you can get the answer in 2 minutes with this book.
Buy it. BEFORE you need it. You'll be glad you did.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mastering Regular Expressions, Second Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jeffrey E. F. Friedl
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Amazing book


I had just started learning perl and I knew I needed to learn how to use regular expressions. I breezed through learning perl and this book was next.
I knew very little about regular expressions before reading this book and now I feel like I've mostly mastered them. I've read through it once and there is a lot of material that it covers so it was difficult to comprehend all of it the first time through but I feel I've understood the majority of regular expressions. I think the only part I would need to read through more is the optimization of regular expressions.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Objects First With Java : A Practical Introduction Using BlueJ (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: David Barnes, Michael Kolling
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Simply the best intro into Java / OO you are going to get


More than that, after more than 20 years in IT, this is also the best IT text book I have ever read, end of story. I had done a 5-day Java course some months before I read the book, and found it a real slog. Just as the authors claim, the syntax first approach which was used in the course, was as confusing as hell for all of us old COBOL mainframers there.

Although you may find BlueJ is not without its bugs, the concept behind it, of visually displaying objects, and not emphasizing the Java Main method, is truly inspired (get the book if you dont know what I mean)!

One thing: make sure you get the 2nd ed of this book, I found some annoying quirks in the 1st first edition, that the authors have cleaned up here(eg, you had to trawl thru their website to get some of the install instructions).



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Proven Portals: Best Practices for Planning, Designing, and Developing Enterprise Portals
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Dan Sullivan
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Proven Portals - practical and balanced


Proven Portals gives a practical and balanced view of the subject matter. It should be required reading for those embarking on a Portal implementation or trying to rescue a failed one. The book provides concepts and best practices that are valid regardless of the technical infrastructure. You'll need greater detail in some areas for your implementation, and the author provides references for a more in-depth treatment of many issues. The book is an amazingly easy read for as much ground as it covers. I can't wait for Proven Data Warehouses!