Should we try reviving the Book Club?

In the early years of java.net, we had a Book Club forum, much in the style of other book clubs (yes, like Oprah's): we'd announce a book, anyone who was interested would go and get a copy, and then each week, group members would discuss one chapter of the book in the forum. As you can see, the titles we covered were:

  • Hackers and Painters
  • Tapestry in Action
  • The Mythical Man Month
  • Refactoring to Patterns
  • Java 1.5: A Developer's Notebook
  • Beyond Java

As you can see, we tried to pick topics with fairly broad appeal: many of these are about programming in general more than they are about a specific product or project. The first four were organized by Daniel when he was editor, the fifth hosted by author Brett McLaughlin, and I led the discussion of the sixth. I worried a little that Beyond Java was implicitly off-putting, if not insulting, to the potential membership here, but I thought there would be some who would want to look at the author's arguments and either distill some value out of them or shoot them down. Plus, it was possible to read the entire book for free with the two-week trial membership of Safari Books Online offered at that time, so you didn't have to actually give Bruce Tate any of your money.

Thing is, it didn't really fly. Readers objected to the book's points only by way of my chapter summaries, not by actually reading the book. It just wasn't something people wanted to participate in. And after that discussion, two years ago now, we didn't try another Book Club title.

Last week, while reorganizing the forums, I moved the entire Book Club category into the archive. But I thought: did it fail because of a poor choice of books, or because this just isn't something that the java.net community wants to participate in? It could be both. Maybe there are titles that people already have or would want to buy for the sake of discussing them with peers, to really get into them and exchange ideas, inspirations, criticisms, whatever. And maybe the focus on meta-programming was a mistake: maybe what people want to talk about is a hardcore code book like Filthy Rich Clients or Java Concurrency in Practice.

So, tell us: would you like us to bring back the book club, and if so, what books would you be interested in discussing? Let's bang this out in the comments below. If a lot of you say, "that's just not something I would want to do," then we'll let it go. But if there's interest, and a viable title or two, maybe we'll give it another try.


In Java Today, Mark Reinhold has announced the completion of the OpenJDK team's hosting conversion, in Goodbye TeamWare, hello Mercurial! "I clearly recall my first days at Sun back in 1996, hacking on JDK 1.1 under intense deadline pressure and routinely cursing TeamWare as it ground through yet another thirty-minute bringover command on my poor little UltraSPARC workstation. [...] As of today I'm happy to be able to push those painful memories into long-term archival storage. The OpenJDK code base for JDK 7 now officially resides in our brand new Mercurial repositories, and the equivalent operation takes about a minute."

Speaking of Mercurial, you can use it to check out the just-posted build 24of JDK 7. Visit the Mercurial page to get the source, and the OpenJDK downloads pageto get the binary plugs and Jtreg binary. A summary of changes page for b24 has been created, but is empty because b24 should not differ from b23, except in being built from Mercurial-based sources rather than TeamWare-based.

The NetBeans 6.0 release includes significant enhancements and new features, including a completely rewritten editor infrastructure, support for additional languages, new productivity features, and a simplified installation process that allows you to easily install and configure the IDE to meet your exact needs. Take the video tour of the latest features in the NetBeans.tv screencasts section or from the video index page on NetBeans.org.


Keeping on the topic of NetBeans, Michael