Most methods and classes described in this book are illustrated with at least one complete working program, simple though it may be. In my experience, a complete working program is essential to showing the proper use of a method. Without a program, it is too easy to drop into jargon or to gloss over points about which the author may be unclear in his own mind. The Java API documentation itself often suffers from excessively terse descriptions of the method calls. In this book, I have tried to err on the side of providing too much explication rather than too little. If a point is obvious to you, feel free to skip over it. You do not need to type in and run every example in this book, but if a particular method does give you trouble, you are guaranteed to have at least one working example.
Each chapter includes at least one (and often several) more complex programs that demonstrate the classes and methods of that chapter in a more realistic setting. These often rely on Java features not discussed in this book. Indeed, in many of the programs, the networking components are only a small fraction of the source code and often the least difficult parts . Nonetheless, none of these programs could be written as easily in languages that didn't give networking the central position it occupies in Java. The apparent simplicity of the networked sections of the code reflects the extent to which networking has been made a core feature of Java, and not any triviality of the program itself. All example programs presented in this book are available online, often with corrections and additions. You can download the source code from http://www.cafeaulait.org/books/jnp3/.
This book assumes you are using Sun's Java Development Kit. I have tested all the examples on Linux and many on Windows and MacOS X. Almost all the examples given here should work on other platforms and with other compilers and virtual machines that support Java 1.2 (and most on Java 1.1, as well). The occasional examples that require Java 1.3, 1.4, or 1.5 are clearly noted.