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Thinking In Java
by Bruce Eckel, Bruce Eckel

Prentice Hall PTR
third edition
December 2002
1119 pages

Reviewed by Junilu Lacar, March 2003
  (9 of 10)

This edition is updated for the Java JDK 1.4 and includes significant changes over the previous edition.

New and expanded discussions touch on assertions, I/O and new I/O, logging, JavaDoc comments, exception handling, JNLP and Webstart. The 2nd edition's chapter on distributed computing, which included EJBs, Servlets and JSPs, RMI, and JNDI, and the appendix on JNI are gone and moved to another book on Enterprise Java.

Staying abreast of current development practices, Eckel introduces brief discussions on using Ant for automated builds, and version control using CVS. He also puts more emphasis on unit testing, replacing comments and System.out.println statements from previous editions with code that uses his own unit testing framework in most of the book's sample code. The source code, which you can download from his website, also comes with Ant build files.

The CD that comes with the book contains a multimedia course called "Foundations for Java" which you should go through before reading the book. Unfortunately, the CD I got was damaged during shipping and I haven't received a replacement as of this writing.

One minor complaint is that the typeface in the code and tables are not very readable. In the tables, the number 0 looks like a lowercase o. Overall, I think Eckel did a good job in keeping the book up-to-date and relevant to the needs of beginning to intermediate Java programmers who would benefit from this book.

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Prentice Hall PTR
second edition
May 2000
1128 pages

Reviewed by Kathy Sierra, May 1999
  (8 of 10)

My favorite book for those coming from a C++ background. Bruce Eckel explains complicated things about Java with the casual clarity of a conversation between two smart colleagues. You'll spend a lot of time reading this book. I must get Bert his own copy; he keeps going after mine.

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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers)
by Andy Hunt

Pragmatic Bookshelf
1 edition
November 2008
288 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, April 2011
  (8 of 10)

I borrowed a copy of "Pragmatic Thinking & Learning" by Andy Hunt and enjoyed the read. In addition to referencing ideas from Bert Bates and Linda Rising, there was a good mix of concepts and concrete techniques.

Favorite three concepts:
1) Dreyfus model - novice vs advanced beginner vs etc. And why it matters to us
2) Extended analogy between human brain and computer
3) Why certain models of learning work better than others

Favorite three suggested things to try:
1) Block out time to learn and fight for it
2) Make learning new facts a game
3) Write 3 pages every morning before breakfast to see what right brain thinks before fully awake

I also liked that Andy noted writing on paper is different than typing on a computer. I think this applies to paper vs e-books as well. Different strengths.

Overall, the book was surprisingly interactive and each chapter has actions to try or take away. Really emphasized to the point of "stop and do this now."

While I have to give the book back to it's rightful owner, I have a whole page of things to try/follow up on which is exciting.

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Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum (Agile Software Development Series)
by Craig Larman, Bas Vodde

Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
December 2008
368 pages

Reviewed by Jeanne Boyarsky, February 2009
  (7 of 10)

"Scaling Lean & Agile Development" has a subtitle "Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum." The vast majority of the book applies to software development in general (or at least agile development) and is not specific to Scrum. Two chapters are dedicated to Scrum and some others mention it in passing. Much more space was dedicated to lean practices and Toyota's approach. Which makes sense since "Lean" made the title and "Scrum" made the subtitle.

I liked the emphasis on experiments - ideas to try or avoid. They are spelled out before the book starts and then become the subtitles. I also liked the emphasis on systems thinking and fallacies.

A few points particularly resonated with me including the dangers of lines of code as a metric, the dangers of specialization and discussion of a programming interview.

The book reads like a good textbook. It's not hard to read. There are lots of references to others books (and part two of this book.) It has a good mix between theory and experience. Weighted towards experience - almost like an MBA textbook, but more fun to read.

And it mentions someone from JavaRanch. You'll have to read the book to find out who.

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Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
December 2008
368 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, March 2009
  (8 of 10)

"Scaling Lean & Agile Development: Thinking and Organizational Tools for Large-Scale Scrum" is the first of two books co-authored by the same duo. This first volume covers the underlying theory needed for understanding the dynamics of scaling agile development to large organizations, including one of the best introductions to Systems Thinking that I remember reading.

Indeed, the first part of this book is all about thinking tools such as Systems Thinking, Lean Thinking, and Queuing Theory. Throughout the book, the authors refer back to these theories when they try to illuminate the "what" and "why" of various dynamics.

The second part focuses more concretely on how to scale a product development organization. It starts with a thorough, seminal chapter on Feature Teams and continues with more general discussion of what makes teams work. True to their style of writing, these chapters are full of references to related research. Knowing the authors, I expected nothing less. After team work, the authors move on to discussing a scaling technique called "Requirement Areas", specialization, organizational impediments, even budgeting and HR.

The third and last part of the book is essentially an appendix containing the "Scrum Primer" by Gabrielle Benefield and Pete Deemer. Personally, I think this appendix could've been left out, considering that most readers should already be familiar with Scrum.

Again, this book is perhaps the most thoroughly researched text on agile development I've read (and I've read most of them) and the authors clearly know what they're talking about. Having said that, it is also quite a heavy read considering that it's only some 300+ pages. I read it in one day, barely leaving the couch but I can imagine that others might not enjoy the theory-heavy approach as much.

With that said, while it's not full of the kind of concrete tips we'd like to see, this book does offer a strong foundation for understanding how to scale and how not to scale up organizations for agile development. I highly recommend it to leaders, change agents and agile coaches involved in large-scale transitions.

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