Who's Afraid of Java?

Who's Afraid of Java? - the WWW version

ISBN: 0-12-339101-6

Copyright 1997, 1996 by AP Professional

Copyright 2000, 1997, 1996 by Chrysalis Software Corporation

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Letter from a Novice

As a famous frog once said, "It's not easy being green".

Yet being new at programming languages seems to be my forte these days, at least according to Steve Heller, who, after one tumultuous effort in the production of his book Who's Afraid of C++? found me indispensable enough to employ my lack of knowledge once again in the making of Who's Afraid of Java?.

After being a "professional novice" for 2 years now I still can't get used to the idea of my ignorance as being an important commodity. Sometimes I wonder why I so foolishly spent nearly 5 years in college. Perhaps if I had not done that I could be in huge demand as one of the world's greatest "know-nothings". It really is a difficult position to rationalize, and creates a very odd slant to my reality system.

However once again I have been prevailed upon to apply my expertise of knowing nothing to learning the Java programming language. And once again Steve and I went full circle, asking and answering questions concerning his writing until I felt comfortable enough with each concept that I could move on to the next. To do this has been and still is an exercise in extremes, emotionally and intellectually. But once again I sincerely hope that, for those of you totally new to programming, our efforts will make the road to learning Java a little less rocky for you because we tried to think like you do, and give you explanations that you will be able to understand.

This book, based on the same general outline as Who's Afraid of C++?, gives a novice reader the basics of programming and then leads up to some rather advanced concepts that even experienced programmers in other languages might find a bit of a stretch. This is because Java quickly incorporates what is considered a higher level of complexity in other languages.

I must admit that there was one unexpected oversight on our part concerning my commission as the resident know-nothing. I suddenly realized not too far into the Java book that my career as a professional novice might be in jeopardy, as we overlooked one minor detail, that is <ahem>, I know C++.1 That is, I know enough about C++ to make comparisons of the two languages, which came up many times in the reading of the book. That fact made it in some cases easier for me to read this book, but in some cases harder. While I must consider that in all fairness I might be suffering from "first language chauvinism", the differences in the two languages forced me to make side by side comparisons and it didn't take me long to start to complain about what I disliked in Java.2 Even though my days of absolute novicehood may be over, I am sure that Steve will be imploring me to apply my relative lack of knowledge to yet another of his many book ideas. Since each new language will be just that (new) to me, I think I will be able to keep my status as a novice for quite some time to come. However, I have already put him on alert that there is at least one subject I won't suffer through: there will be no book called Who's Afraid of Assembly Language? with my name in it. I have seen the stuff, and I am certain about this: I am afraid of that!


  1. When you get further along in the book, you may wonder on occasion how I could ask such basic questions if I already have knowledge of another language such as C++. The answer is simple: those questions are transplanted from our previous book, Who's Afraid of C++?. Of course, they have been edited to fit into a discussion of Java, but they are essentially the same questions I asked when I was first learning about programming.
  2. You can find some of these complaints in Appendix , which discusses the differences between C++ and Java.

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