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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

eBook Recommendation: Java Programming for Kids, Parents and Grandparents by Yakov Fain

Java Programming for Kids, Parents, and Grandparents by Yakov Fain is a neat little ebook that provides a brief introduction to Java. It has some great exercises in it, and if you're doing an install of the SDK to a Windows system it gives directions in a fashion that is somewhat more direct than the ones from Sun.

While my preference is to introduce graphics before getting into flow control, the book puts flow control first. However, the material goes so quickly, and the program exercises are so much fun that it doesn't matter much here. The final exercises in the book are a couple of simple graphical video games, and it doesn't take too long to get to them.

I haven't tested the book on any real students yet, but I probably will. Once I do I'll post a more in-depth article on this book. The writing style is light, occasionally a bit condescending, but the material itself is well done.

Thumbs up to those resposible for writing and distributing Java Programming for Kids, Parents and Grandparents. A body of good material like this is what makes programming accessible to ordinary folks who might otherwise think you need to live like some sort of egghead monk to learn this stuff.

The contrast between the approach in this ebook with the first edition of Java Programming for Dummies (the Aaron Walsh version, not the fine book by Brad Burd) is striking. Essentially, the first Java for Dummies book told you "Java is hard, you're a Dummy. Since Java is too complicated for a Dummy like you, we're going to teach you JavaScript instead, even though you thought you bought a book on Java."*

The Fain book didn't bother to tell me what I can't do. It was too busy telling me what I can do. On top of that, Yakov Fain's book is a free ebook, so it cost me $25 less than the Dummies book. (Yeah, I still feel burned on that one. ;) )

* It wasn't bad at all as a book on JavaScript, BTW. But it wasn't being sold as a book on JavaScript. It even has a short section on Java applets and chapter titles that refer specifically to Java inside to confuse the issue for those who see the cover screaming "Java" and take the time to flip through it. This book put me off Dummies books for about ten years, and only the excellence of many of their current books brought me back.