Delving Into Java Language and Knowledge Management

Ignoring for the moment the high-tech carnage on Wall Street, I'm catching up on Internet progress. The task I set for myself stares back at me from horizontal spines: the titles of 10 books and two software programs, all but one covering Java.

Sparked by the desire to delve deeper into Sun's much ballyhooed programming language and by a continuing interest in knowledge management, I need to choose among this smorgasbord. Parsing is easier than expected; the books fall neatly into three user categories: beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Before I share my opinions, here are a few notes of caution and disappointment. First, the books reviewed are only a sample -- I lack knowledge of the size of the population and whether the sample is representative. Second, and regrettably typical of the 500-plus Internet books (judged by titles in a Library of Congress search), none are suitable for training, nor do they seem to have been written by professional trainers. In this vein, I have yet to find a good beginner's text to teach non-programmers the Java language. If any reader can prove me wrong, I would like that. This is the first of a two-part article.


1. Goodman, Danny. "Danny Goodman's JavaScript Handbook." ISBN 0-7645-3003-8

2. Shafer, Dan. "JavaScript & Netscape Wizardry." ISBN 1-883577-86-1

For non-programmers, I recommend starting with JavaScript, a scripting language with a limited vocabulary that fits within your HTML code inside the script tags. While Shafer writes better than Goodman for the beginner, he lacks Goodman's detail and depth. If it's just an acquaintance you want with JavaScript, then Shafer is the choice. If you want to walk the hot coals to achieve JavaScript nirvana, than go with Goodman.


1. Bartlett, Neil, Leslie, Alex and Simkin, Steve. "Java Programming Explorer." ISBN 1-883577-81-0

2. Friedel, David H. Jr. and Potts, Anthony. "Java Programming Language Handbook." ISBN 1-883577-77-2

3. Perry, Paul J. "Creating Cool Web Applets With Java." ISBN 1-56884-881-1

4. Niemeyer, Patrick and Peck, Joshua. "Exploring Java." ISBN 1-56592-184-4

5. Rodley, John. "Writing Java Applets." ISBN 1-883577-78-0

This category is a mixed bag, from the thick (Bartlett) to the relatively thin (Niemeyer), from the focus on process (Friedel) to the stress on results (Perry and Rodley). For a heavy dose of Java, I would go with Bartlett, et al. For those seeking lighter repast, the choice is Friedel. If you want to dive into writing applets -- programs that require a Java-capable browser, such as Netscape Navigator 2.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0b1 -- the works by Perry and Rodley are valuable.

In a class by itself is the Niemeyer book, spanning the bridge between Intermediate and Advanced. If pressed, I would choose the Bartlett tome for the beginner, both for its varied writing style and for the CD-ROM attached to the back cover. Be mindful, though, that not one of these could be used by the non-programmer interested in self-study.

In the next issue, I will cover the Advanced category, Symantec's Caf? and askSam 3.0.

John Makulowich writes, talks and trains on the Internet. You can reach him at The URL for his home page, replete with frames, is

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