This book is a desktop quick reference for Java programmers, designed to sit faithfully by your keyboard while you program. Part 1, "Introducing Java" of the book is a fast-paced, "no-fluff" introduction to the Java programming language and the core APIs of the Java platform. Part 2, "API Quick Reference" is a quick-reference section that succinctly details every class and interface of those core APIs. The book covers Versions 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3 beta of Java.
Readers who are familiar with the second edition of this book will notice a number of changes in this edition. Most notably, the AWT and applet APIs are no longer documented in this book. The Java platform tripled in size between Java 1.1 and Java 1.2. Accordingly, and unavoidably, Java in a Nutshell has been split into three volumes. The volume you are now reading documents only the essential APIs of the platform, including the basic language and utility classes, as well as classes for input/output, networking, and security. See the Table of Contents for a complete list of the packages documented here.
If you are a client-side programmer who is working with graphics or graphical user interfaces, you will probably want to supplement this book with Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell, which documents all the graphics- and GUI-related classes, including the AWT, Swing, Java 2D, and applet APIs. And, if you are an server-side or enterprise programmer, you will likely be interested in Java Enterprise in a Nutshell.
Another big change is that Part 1, "Introducing Java" of this book has been almost entirely rewritten. The first and second editions of this book assumed knowledge of and experience with C or C++. Now that Java has come thoroughly into its own, that assumption no longer seems appropriate, so I have rewritten and expanded Chapters 2 and 3 to explain Java without any reference to C, C++, or any other programming language. Programmers with a modest amount of experience should now be able to learn Java programming from this book. These introductory chapters are written in a tight, concise style, so programmers who already know Java should find them useful as a language reference.
Another new feature of Part 1, "Introducing Java" is Chapter 4, "The Java Platform". This chapter is an introduction to the APIs documented in the reference section of the book. It includes more than 60 detailed API usage examples that show how to accomplish common tasks with the predefined classes of the Java platform.
Finally, the quick-reference section in Part 2, "API Quick Reference" of the book has a new look that dramatically improves the readability of the reference material and packs even more API information into a small space. Even if you are already familiar with the second edition, you should take the time to read the "How To Use This Quick Reference" section at the beginning of Part 2, "API Quick Reference"; it explains the new quick-reference format and shows you how to get the most out of it.
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