Building Java Programs: A Back to Basics ApproachBuilding Program News]

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3 Responses to Building Java Programs: A Back to Basics ApproachBuilding Program News]

  • John M. Hunt says:
    34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Finally, a good proceedure first intro text book for Java, October 13, 2007
    John M. Hunt (Lookout Mountain, GA USA) –

    This review is from: Building Java Programs: A Back to Basics Approach (Paperback)
    The dominant approach to teaching Java is to start with objects as early as possible – the object first approach. If this is what you want, then this is not the right book. However, I believe that a growing number of people, myself included, have come to believe that object first doesn’t work. Since OO is primarily a design and organization approach for building large systems it typically does not make sense to students trying to do one or two page introductory projects. In addition, the time taken in trying to explain objects comes out of time that would have been spent in learning programming basics such as loops, arrays, etc. The result is too many students that can’t write good procedural code, as well as never grasping object.

    Due to this problem, I have chosen to organize my classes to begin with a procedural style of programming (focused on loops and arrays) and introduce OO at the beginning of the second semester. One of my frustrations has been a lack of supporting material for this approach, particularly among introductory Java textbooks.

    This book solves this problem for me. It introduces concepts in almost exactly the order I have decided to use in my courses. The book is well written. It has a modern organization in terms of things like sidebars and its graphic design without going overboard and trying to compete with MTV the way the Head First series does, or by putting in a bunch of expensive color pictures that have nothing to do with the subject as many current textbooks do. In short, the book design matches its subtitle of being “a back to basics approach”.

    The authors have chosen to avoid showing a specific IDE and limit graphics to an optional chapter. I approve of both of these choices. I find that teaching IDE’s, such as BlueJ, leave students confused about what the tool does and what the programming language does. While full IDE’s, such as Eclipse, overwhelm first semester students. Graphics are “sexy” but every library is different. Real world libraries, like Swing, are too complicated for first semester students. Teaching libraries make the students learn something that is promptly thrown away. I, like the authors, would rather put the effort into the basics of programming.

    This brings us to the book’s other strengths – well thought out examples and assignments that use the basic portion of the language (and could be used with practically any language). A series of character graphic examples are presented that do a good job of showing ideas such as repetition, and functional decomposition. They also include many good “case studies” that show how to apply the techniques introduced in the chapter to a “large” (for first semester) programming problem that is related to real world concepts. For example, one early case study calculates body mass index (fat to weight ratio) of a person. Their case study examples are definitely better then what I am usually able to come up with on the fly, which I think is a key reason to even bother with a text book.

    Summary: I believe this book delivers on its title. It is a well written book that focuses on the basics of learning a programming language without getting lost among “hot” topics like OO, IDE’s, or GUI’s. I will be switching my classes to this book.

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  • ComputerScienceMajor says:
    22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Great Introduction!, November 30, 2010
    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    As a college senior, I’ve had to read many textbooks; some painful, some not. This book is by far one of the best I have used. In fact, while I have been using Amazon’s review services for my own purchases for many years, I haven’t felt the compulsion to write a review. This is the first book to compel me to do so. It’s an excellent book with few typos and a conversational style.

    If you are just beginning to learn Java and haven’t had any experience with OOP (Object Oriented Programming), I believe this book takes the right approach. It’s a very up-to-date treatment of the basics of the language, and like the cover implies, builds the wall brick-by-brick. You’ll learn the components of Java in an order that is easy to follow, the progression to more advanced topics being just about as natural as possible.

    One idea that this book emphasized that others I have read did not (very well), is handling common programing errors. From the get-go, the authors stress how important it is to catch your programming errors as you go along, encouraging the construction of more robust (although still very rudimentary) programs.

    In my opinion, this book has a very “let’s teach Java how it is practiced” approach. It’s very, very practical in the examples it uses and the problems it gives in the back of each chapter. There is also a case study at the end of each chapter that is unique to that chapter, covering the concepts highlighted.

    For Students: If you’ve already had some experience in programming Java, this text might be a bit inadequate because it emphasizes the basics — perhaps it would be a good reference text (although I’d encourage using Sun’s online service). If you’re brand new to the language, this is the book to get.

    For Professors: PLEASE teach with this book. It not only helped me learn Java, it helped me appreciate it. A text book can easily make or break a student’s interest in a subject; this book will definitely encourage interest.

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  • StarClusterM45 says:
    11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A super magic book for introductory-level programming, May 17, 2011
    StarClusterM45 (Los Angeles, CA) –

    I’ve never come across a textbook that layers ideas so strategically and ingeniously well. The ideas are presented in an order and in a manner that made it impossible for me to get lost or bored. Let me repeat that: I was neither lost nor bored–ever!

    I’m convinced that any interested and diligent newbie can produce clean, delightful solutions in simple Java by learning from this book. It taught so well, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on problem after problem. It made me crave problem solving and writing clean, inventive, non-redundant, well-commented code. The book holds your hand aggressively…I don’t think I could have learned as much if the book were any less challenging or any less background-info-laden. The whole book is nicely and neatly designed and formatted, as well.

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