The idea for my last blog post (my ten favorite online resources for advanced Java developers), was inspired by the Xiaoran Wang post Top 10 Websites for Advanced Level Java Developers. Wang also wrote a post called Top 10 Books For Advanced Level Java Developers. As with the post on best websites for advanced Java developers, it is easy to see why Wang listed the ten books he did list. In this post, I look at my top ten list which includes many of the same books as on his list, but my list has a few that are different.
There are numerous good (and some not so good) books aimed at beginning Java developers. However, it seems far more difficult to find good Java books for intermediate and advanced developers. There are plenty of books that provide in-depth coverage on very narrow topics and so are suitable for advanced Java developers, but there seems to be few “more general” Java books aimed at advanced developers.
5. Java Generics and Collections
I think many Java developers would say that using Java collections is easy and that using generics can range from easy to difficult depending on what you’re doing. However, there is much in Java Generics and Collections ( O’Reilly, 2006) to appeal to the advanced developer in its coverage of both generics and collections. The authors of this book point out useful practices related to generics as well as outlining which collections to use in different situations. Even some experienced Java developers may not always consider which collections to use in a particular situation as carefully as they should and this book provides insight into advantages and strengths of each major Java standard collection as well as the drawbacks of each. The book delves deeply into the quagmire of generics and outlines important considerations such as the get and put principle.
4. Java Performance
Charlie Hunt’s and Binu John’s Java Performance (Pearson Education, 2011) provides in-depth coverage regarding tuning of Java applications. The book outlines the many facets of performance tuning as it summarizes the command-line options that are available and how they can be used to measure and tweak settings so that applications will perform better. This is a complex topic that is covered thoroughly and with focus on recent versions of Java.
3. The Well-Grounded Java Developer
The Well-Grounded Java Developer ( Manning, 2012) is a book that is definitely targeted at intermediate and advanced Java developers. As I discussed in my review of The Well-Grounded Java Developer, it helps experienced Java developers come up to speed on some of the latest Java and JVM trends (Java 7, dependency injection, Scala, Groovy, Clojure) while also covering some topics in depth that rarely receive that type of treatment (class loading, performance tuning, concurrency). There are books that specialize in each of these topics, but this is one book that can quickly provide a foundation in all of these advanced topics (and more) in a single book.
2. Java Concurrency in Practice
Like generics, concurrency is another skill that even many advanced Java developers can afford to enhance. Java Concurrency in Practice ( Pearson Education, 2006, by Brian Goetz and a host of other Java concurrency luminaries) is the de facto standard among Java books for coverage of writing concurrent applications in Java.
1. Effective Java
Both editions (First Edition and Second Edition) of Effective Java (Joshua Bloch, Pearson Education, Second Edition, 2008) have been outstanding. Christian Beutenmüller made a good point on the DZone syndicated version of Ryan Wang’s Top 10 Books for Advanced-level Java Developers: “I would remove Effective Java (since this is one of the first books I recommend to beginners).” Like Beutenmüller, I too recommend Effective Java to new Java developers, but I find myself referring even intermediate and advanced Java developers to Effective Java and refer to it regularly. There are portions of Effective Java that are easily digestible even by those relatively new to Java and then there are portions of that book that I’ve realized that I don’t really appreciate until I have gained knowledge and experience. In many cases, I need realistic experience doing something the wrong way to understand some of the benefits and nuances of the practices outlined in this book. In short, Effective Java is one of the few books I can think of that is particularly appropriate to beginning Java developers, particularly appropriate to intermediate Java developers, and particularly appropriate to advanced Java developers.
There are other books that could have made this list and most of us probably have different takes on what are advanced Java books. For me, an “advanced Java developer” is a Java developer with significant depth of knowledge, significant breadth of knowledge, awareness of new and upcoming features of Java, and awareness of tools and products in the Java community that aid the entire Java development lifecycle. Effective Unit Testing and Java Power Tools are two books that are not on advanced subjects, but are books that I think contain information that can help a Java developer move from being a beginner to an intermediate or advanced Java developer. In particular, Effective Unit Testing can help Java developers write better and more efficient unit tests and Java Power Tools helps Java developers increase their breadth of knowledge key open source tools that can be used in all phases of Java development. Beginning Java developers tend not to have the unit testing experience that is contained in Effective Unit Testing and generally lack knowledge of the products available to the Java developer as outlined in Java Power Tools.
It is my belief that it is difficult to write and publish an advanced Java book. Writing an advanced Java books requires the author(s) to have deep understanding of the topic being written about and it is likely that publishers generally sell far more introductory books than advanced books. The barrier to entry seems much higher for writing and publishing advanced Java books as compared to writing and publishing entry-level Java books. Online resources in many ways seem better suited for satisfying advanced Java developers, but the five books I listed in this post buck that trend and provide a level of detailed and thorough information unmatched in the online resources in terms of accessibility and cohesiveness. The books in this list are useful to advanced Java developers, but are probably most useful in helping Java developers to become advanced Java developers.