The 3rd edition of the well-known reference, Java in a Nutshell, covers the essential APIs of Java 1.2, including networking, security, input and output, and basic language and utility classes. Due to the size of the Java 1.2 API, graphics and graphical user interface classes are now examined in a volume called Java Foundation Classes in a Nutshell, and server-side and enterprise programming are detailed in Java Enterprise in a Nutshell.
Though primarily a reference, the book starts off with a thorough, fast-paced introduction to Java, exploring all the key topics, including syntax, object-oriented programming, security, beans, and tools. These discussions are brief and very information-dense, and if you are buying this book to learn the language, you will probably be overwhelmed by the speed of this initiation.
This book intends to document quite a bit of Java, and it easily succeeds with broad coverage of Java programming in Part I, and API cataloging broken down by package in Part II. For example, discussions in Part I explain Types, Reflection, and Dynamic Loading. The handling of these topics takes a little over a page, but the book gives a useful overview with code examples that clearly illustrate the points made. It is one of the clearest and most concise treatments of these three topics available.
The chapters in Part II include an introduction, diagrams, and sections for each class in the package. The sections for each class can be very informative, as in the discussion of the Socket class in the java.net chapter, which includes how to instantiate a Socket object, getting I/O streams from the object you instantiated, and how to alter the behavior of sockets. This discussion, like most in this book, is brief, clear, and to the point.
If you are looking for a Java reference, this is a solid volume that will provide lasting value. --John Keogh
Topics covered: Part I, "Introducing Java," provides broad coverage of Java programming topics, including data types, syntax, classes, and objects; Java file structure; inner classes; interfaces; packages; creating and initializing objects; destroying and finalizing objects; input/output; cryptography; networking; security; threads; JavaBeans; JavaDoc; and tools that come with Java 1.2 SDK.
Part II, "The Java API Quick Reference," includes chapters on the following Java packages: java.beans, java.beans.beancontext, java.io, java.lang, java.lang.ref, java.lang.reflect, java.math, java.net, java.security, java.security.acl, java.security.cert, java.security.interfaces, java.security.spec, java.text, java.util, java.util.jar, java.util.zip, javax.crypto, javax.crypto.interfaces, javax.crypto.spec, and a final chapter, which provides an index for classes, methods, and fields. [via]