This review will be in two parts. I was contacted about reviewing Filthy Rich Clients by Chet Haase and Romain Guy and at the same time asked to review Safari's "Rough Cuts" subscription. So first, let's get the not so good out of the way.
Safari's "Rough Cuts" is similar to Manning's MEAP (Manning Early Access Program). If you aren't familiar with either one it's basically a way to read a book as chapters are made available online. The difference, as far as I can tell, between MEAP and Rough Cuts is that chapters released through MEAP are complete whereas chapters released through Rough Cuts often times are incomplete. That isn't to say that reading the final draft of a book versus the Rough Cut version is significantly different but there were things missing like diagrams that are referred to in the text. I may be in the minority here but I actually find them useful in most cases and when a book is talking about a diagram its nice to be able to see it. Add that to my dislike of Safari's interface for reading books online and I give it a thumbs down. I'd rather just read the book when it is complete than have incomplete chapters made available.
And now on to some good news. FRC is a great book. The community has needed a book like this for a long time and I can't think of any better folks to write this kind of book than Chet and Romain. I've been following their blogs for a long time and am a big fan of all the cool things Romain has done with Swing.
FRC is a book about "Developing Animated and Graphical Effects for Desktop Java Applications". Yes, that is on the cover but I couldn't think of a better way to describe this book. FRC gives some much needed insight into the inner workings of Swing, AWT, and Java2D and how they all interact. Sure, you can scour the web and locate a lot of articles and blogs that talk about this but its nice to finally have this in one place. But don't worry, its not that deep. Its just enough to help you understand when things start getting cool later on.
The book does assume a basic understanding of desktop development with Java. If you are new to Swing you might want to get a few basics down before delving into FRC. The book reads very well, even going between the two authors, which you can easily tell who wrote what. If its technical it was probably Chet. If it was pretty it was probably Romain. Not to say that Romain isn't technical in his own right.
There are plenty of code fragments in the book to help convey the author's points. In fact, there is a lot. More than I expected. On a sad note, even though all the examples are available on the book's web site they are Netbeans projects. I download a few and tried to compile them with Ant from the command line but they always complained about Netbeans dependencies. Granted, I didn't research this much so the problem may have easily been resolved.
The book is fun and results are immediate. I've already started trying to come up with a side project for myself just to try out a lot of the techniques described in FRC. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking to spruce up their existing desktop applications or design something entirely new and original. Great work Chet and Romain!!