I’ve noticed over the last couple of years that quite a few Java developers manage to develop on their workstations without even having a local copy of the Javadoc for the core language API, and in most cases the same is also true for any thrid party API being used. I’ll be working with them on a problem and say, ‘bring up the API Javadoc and let’s see if there’s a method we’re looking for’ and they’ll look at me blankly. ‘Ok, go out to the Sun site and we’ll browse it online from there’.
At that point I am blown away when they don’t even know how to find the API on the java.sun.com site itself – the home of Java.
Quite how some of these developers manage to get anything done is beyond me. And how they ever learn anything new is also a mystery. There used to be a time in the ‘good old days’ of Java in late 90s when everyone I worked with had a well worn copy of ‘Java in a Nutshell’ on their desk. Why? Because it has a printed copy of the Javadoc for all the core classes and methods – not everyone likes to browse stuff online. But second to that, or in addition, developers would also have a downloaded copy of the J2SDK Documentation on their machine, with a bookmark straight into the API. In some cases (I know I do) they would set the home page in their browser straight into the Javadoc.
To be a good craftsman you have to know your tools. This is one area where for some reason one of the most basic and most useful tools is often overlooked. If you are a Java developer and don’t have a copy of the J2SDK or Java5.0 documentation on your machine, go and download it now, and maybe even take a read…