Java is generally a well-documented language, but not every language feature is fully specified, documented, or identical across all platforms. Java Secrets takes you into this Java twilight zone and introduces you to the language's hidden power. The book's first section explores the inner workings of many Java mechanisms, including representation of data types in memory, argument passing, and the implementation of strings and arrays. The author also investigates niceties of threading models and garbage collection as implemented on different Java platforms.
A large group of undocumented classes (the sun.* packages) constitute what amounts to an undocumented Java application programming interface (API). The next large section of Java Secrets details these classes and how to use them safely. Although these classes ostensibly exist to support the Java environment, you'll learn how to use many of their interfaces for a variety of tasks including layout management; FTP, HTTP, mail, and news communication; data encoding; and character conversion. A final big chunk of the book is devoted to techniques for adding platform-dependent features to Java applications. This is a controversial subject for a supposedly platform-independent programming system, but the author provides a balanced assessment of the benefits and drawbacks.
All in all, this is one of the most interesting, unusual, and engagingly written books on Java programming we've seen. It's hard to imagine a serious Java programmer who wouldn't find it well worth his or her time.
There are plenty of books on Java out there but Java Secrets is one of a kind. Java Secrets picks up where all the others leave off, daring to tread into parts of Java that Sun Microsystems hasn't documented, that aren't generally accessible within a Web browser, and that haven't appeared in other Java books.
If you're content creating nifty applets to jazz up Web pages, you probably don't need Java Secrets. But if you want to write serious, stand-alone Java applications and Web applets that do useful things like allow live chats and interface with Usenet newsgroups, you need the information that author and Java expert Elliote Rusty Harold reveals in this comprehensive, in-depth guide.
Plus, on the bonus CD-ROM accompanying Java Secrets, you get full versions of WingDis 2.0.3 (the Java decompiler) and JDK 1.1 as well as many essential shareware and freeware programs for Java power-programmers.