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Objects First with Java
by David J. Barnes, Michael Koelling

Prentice Hall
unknown edition
October 2002
400 pages

Reviewed by Frank Carver, December 2003
  (9 of 10)

This book is intended to be a course text book for an introductory course in Java and Object Oriented Programming. The authors have made a conscious decision to cover the material in a different order to almost all other books on the subject. You won't find an initial chapter on classpaths, compilation and the main method, there's no pseudo-procedural "hello, world" example. The book leaps straight in to creating objects from classes, examining values and calling methods.

There is a trick to all this, of course. The book is based on a kind of Java development environment optimised for teaching called "BlueJ". BlueJ is a free download, and a copy is included on a CD with the book, along with all the source code examples. I've had a play with BlueJ, and it certainly makes important things like the distinction between a class and an object, and the inheritance structure of the code, much clearer than traditional IDEs.

If you are planning to teach a course on Java or OO, you should certainly take a look at this book. Even if you don't run the course exactly as presented, the approach is fascinating. If you are trying to pick up these tricky ideas on your own, this book might also be very useful. Even if none of those cases apply, the BlueJ software is still a really neat tool for prototyping.

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