Bruce Eckel's Thinking in Java Contents | Prev | Next

This book was designed with one thing in mind: the way people learn the Java language. Seminar audience feedback helped me understand which parts were difficult and needed illumination. In the areas where I got ambitious and included too many features all at once, I came to know – through the process of presenting the material – that if you include a lot of new features, you need to explain them all, and this easily compounds the student’s confusion. As a result, I’ve taken a great deal of trouble to introduce the features as few at a time as possible.

The goal, then, is for each chapter to teach a single feature, or a small group of associated features, in such a way that no additional features are relied upon. That way you can digest each piece in the context of your current knowledge before moving on.

Here is a brief description of the chapters contained in the book, which correspond to lectures and exercise periods in my hands-on seminars.

This chapter is an overview of what object-oriented programming is all about, including the answer to the basic question “What’s an object?”, interface vs. implementation, abstraction and encapsulation, messages and functions, inheritance and composition, and the all-important polymorphism. You’ll also be introduced to issues of object creation such as constructors, where the objects live, where to put them once they’re created, and the magical garbage collector that cleans up the objects that are no longer needed. Other issues will be introduced, including error handling with exceptions, multithreading for responsive user interfaces, and networking and the Internet. You’ll also learn about what makes Java special, why it’s been so successful, and about object-oriented analysis and design.

On your own, you might take nine months to discover and understand polymorphism, a cornerstone of OOP. Through small, simple examples you’ll see how to create a family of types with inheritance and manipulate objects in that family through their common base class. Java’s polymorphism allows you to treat all objects in this family generically, which means the bulk of your code doesn’t rely on specific type information. This makes your programs extensible, so building programs and code maintenance is easier and cheaper. In addition, Java provides a third way to set up a reuse relationship through the interface, which is a pure abstraction of the interface of an object. Once you’ve seen polymorphism, the interface can be clearly understood. This chapter also introduces Java 1.1 inner classes .


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