Great Budget Solution for JFC Swing Developers

Low cost, comprehensive 800 page reference with a good introduction to Swing and a 300+ page index.


There are now several books that cover the Java Foundation Classes and Swing but, at $19.99 U.S., this one clearly wins on a cost per page basis, exploring the API in the first 350 pages and splitting the rest of the pages between a few reference appendices and a very extensive index. The latter two elements are the earmark of a good reference book and this one has a pretty serious index, at about 340 pages. This value/price decision is a simple one to make for most developers, who can afford not to spend twenty bucks on a good Swing reference book?

I was especially charmed by the 17 chapters in the first part of the book, which do a pretty good job of covering the Swing API. Even uncoupled from the reference section, this part of the book is well worth the price. The first three chapters cover a Swing overview, applet programming and event handling in Swing. These are grouped together under a Part 1 heading entitled "Conceptual Reference". Part 2 is called the "Technical Reference" and covers the various swing elements in well organized conceptual groupings. Chapter 5, on layout managers, provides good coverage of all the AWT and Swing layout managers and how you can make them work effectively for you.

The coverage for all the widgets is pretty good, covering frames, panes, panels, icons, labels, buttons, check boxes, lists, and combo boxes between chapters 4 and 9, with a stop along with way in Chapter 6 to look at making good design decisions with Swing. The Table and Tree controls have their own chapters, as they do in most Swing books, with effective coverage of the Text widgets in Chapter 11. The text exploration is not very deep but seems complete enough to get an experienced Java developer up to speed with the major JFC elements. Strictly speaking, it’s not accurate to say this book is about the JFC, but it is about the Swing subset and so the ‘JFC Swing’ moniker seems suitable enough. Part 3, "Syntax Reference", represents the bulk of this book and doesn’t offer much more than the JavaDoc listings might provide.

For those who prefer hard copies to computer monitors, this book will come in handy. The index is comprehensive enough to lead you in the right direction when you need to locate something expediently. The java swing, border, colorchooser, filechooser, table, tree, text, undo and event packages are all presented in these pages. Additionally, the plaf, basic, metal and multi packages are covered, though none of these pages provide any good examples of how the code elements might be applied. If you need a good overview and a quick Swing reference, spend $20 on this book. You can’t really go wrong at this price.