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Java Graphics Programming Library: Concepts To Source Code
Author: Oswald Campesato
Publisher: Charles River Media
ISBN: 1-58450-092-1
Purchasing: [Amazon.Com] - RRP US$49.95
Reviewed: 11th September 2002

Front Cover Shot:

Overview

The java programming language has been around for some time now - May 1995 was its formal introduction to the world. In those 7 years, it's picked up a huge amount of support from developers all over the world - a far faster uptake than many similar languages.

However, it's only fairly recently that Java has been considered as a real games/multimedia programming language - sure, we get a million-and-one web browser based java games, but a real commercial-grade java game is rare.

Concepts of Computer Graphics

This book bills itself as "concepts to source code" - concepts of computer graphics. However, it's an interesting way of looking at the concepts. Most other books that make similar claims cover the really basic and fundamental concepts - rasterizing, clipping, pixels etc... but this book starts a little higher up - mathematics behind 2D graphics, shapes and patterns.

Just looking through this book there are a lot of small images showing the results of the various algorithms and equations you learn about - cubic functions, polar coordinates and a few fun things to do with trig identities/equations. Putting these together and you generally get various different kinds of pretty swirling patterns and flower-like shapes.

In many respects, the concepts discussed by this text are of a much more applicable type than other books on graphical concepts and theory - whilst you may not be desperate to draw an "overlapping pair of venetian pillars" right now, the components that go together to make up this example can be quite easily applied to a whole series of different graphical effects.

Multimedia, not games

One area that does stand out about this book - it focuses on programming multimedia components and doesn't really pay much attention to game graphics. The only substantial difference is the emphasis on performance. Whilst many of these algorithms aren't particularly slow, they aren't really suitable for a high-speed game engine - a lot of refinement and pre-processing would be necessary to get these working at a useable speed.

Content is king

The content of this book is top-quality, it is one of only a few books that I am impressed with on first site when it comes to writing reviews. What you get for your money is actually a relatively small (physically) book, with quite heavy/dense paper - 524 pages in total.

The writing style of the author makes for an easy read, yet it still keeps up an impressive pace - and best of all, it flows quite nicely between sections. You do need to be good with programming though - experience with Java is a definite prerequisite.

In Conclusion

This book is definitely a good short-term learning aid, and a long-term reference book for those interested in Java graphics. Given the way it's written, it would be easy to pick up and read cover-to-cover and expect to have a good understanding of java's graphics potential. At the same time, you can look back through this book for ideas on specific effects, methods and algorithms to add a bit of spin to your graphics application.

Good Things Bad Things
• Good, clear writing style not really for beginner programmers
flows nicely from topic to topic not always obvious how you can transfer examples in the book to real-world applications
works well as a reference book  
works well as a cover-to-cover learning book  
doesn't waste any time discussing things most readers will already know.  

 

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