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Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME) is turning into a major platform for wireless application development. Compared with desktop and server-side application development, Java-based wireless development faces some unique challenges. For example, small wireless devices have little processing power, limited memory, short battery life, and unreliable network connections. To develop wireless applications, we must design GUIs (graphical user interfaces) suitable for small devices, use lightweight components, and shift resource intensive tasks to the server side using sound network designs. As a result, J2ME supports only parts of the standard Java API libraries, with lightweight alternative APIs for handling complex tasks such as GUIs. Expertly written guides offer a great resource for wireless architects, developers, and business managers for familiarizing themselves with exciting wireless Java solutions. J2ME books are in great demand, and book publishers have responded by releasing many such books since 2000.
However, the J2ME landscape is changing rapidly. For example, the most widely deployed J2ME profile, Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP), only reached its 1.0 release in 2001. Considering the book publishing industry's long cycles, books with mature J2ME/MIDP coverage are emerging only recently. At the time of this writing, the Java Community Process has released the MIDP 2.0 and PDA Profile specifications for public review (as of July 2002, reference implementations are not yet available). Both MIDP 2.0 and PDAP are based on MIDP 1.0, with extra add-on packages and feature sets. So MIDP 1.0 skills and general knowledge of wireless application development still prove vital for J2ME developers.
In this article, I review six J2ME books published in the first half of 2002. All are written by wireless and Java experts and published by reputable publishers:
We should remember that, while MIDP is an important J2ME profile, it is not equal to J2ME. J2ME contains several configurations and profiles suited for a variety of wireless and embedded devices. Two of the reviewed books, Java 2 Micro Edition and J2ME in a Nutshell, substantially cover non-MIDP J2ME technologies. Despite their names, Instant Wireless Java with J2ME and Wireless J2ME Platform Programming, are mainly MIDP programming technique books. Nevertheless, MIDP is crucial, and the MIDP 1.0 API comprises a major part of each book in this review.