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, February 25, 2014 Java 8, JavaScript, Functional Programming, and Software Engineering
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Java SE 8 for the Really Impatient

by Cay S. Horstmann

Java 8, probably the most important release of the language since Java 2, is set to be launched next month. As such, it is attracting a slew of new books on the many features that will debut in this version. One of the first to hit the market is this 200-page volume by Cay Horstmann, who is the lead coauthor on the definitive Java reference, Core Java. In this book, which is intended for developers who already know Java, Horstmann goes through each of the major additions, explains its use and benefits, and demonstrates the syntax through short snippets of code. In addition, where necessary, he provides relevant details of what is happening under the hood. His sense of how much to explain and where is impeccable, so that the book is really perfectly matched to its target audience. And, as in Core Java, the explanations are crisp, lucid, and authoritative.

I was also impressed by Java SE 8 for the Really Impatient's choice of topics. All the principal advances — lambdas (closures), the stream API, improved libraries and collections — are covered, of course, but so are topics not typically associated with Java 8: the Nashorn JavaScript engine and JavaFX 2.0, both of which are now bundled with the new JDK.

In my 2012 review of Horstmann's last book, Scala for the Impatient, I complained about his use of numerous small snippets to teach a new language. He uses a similar technique here (although the snippets are longer), but it works well in this context because he's feeding information on discrete topics to readers who already know Java. In fact, snippets are an ideal demonstration choice for new features, and Horstmann uses them here to good advantage.

I suspect that almost every publisher will be putting out some book summarizing the new features in Java 8 for the legions of Java programmers. But I doubt few of the resulting works will be as informative and rewarding as this one. Highly recommended.

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