Brett McLaughlin

Brett McLaughlin

Author, educator, curious and driven geek

Areas of Expertise:

  • java
  • xml
  • object-oriented analysis and design
  • learning theory
  • cognitive science

Brett McLaughlin is a bestselling and award-winning non-fiction author. His books on computer programming, home theater, and analysis and design have sold in excess of 100,000 copies. He has been writing, editing, and producing technical books for nearly a decade, and is as comfortable in front of a word processor as he is behind a guitar, chasing his two sons and his daughter around the house, or laughing at reruns of Arrested Development with his wife.

Brett spends most of his time these days on cognitive theory, codifying and expanding on the learning principles that shaped the Head First series into a bestselling phenomenon. He's curious about how humans best learn, why Star Wars was so formulaic and still so successful, and is adamant that a good video game is the most effective learning paradigm we have.

PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual
by Brett McLaughlin
Second Edition November 2012
Print: $39.99
Ebook: $33.99

PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual PHP & MySQL: The Missing Manual
by Brett McLaughlin
November 2011
Ebook: $27.99

What Is Node? What Is Node?
by Brett McLaughlin
July 2011
Ebook: $0.00

What Is HTML5? What Is HTML5?
by Brett McLaughlin
July 2011
Ebook: $0.00

Java and XML Java and XML
by Brett McLaughlin, Justin Edelson
Third Edition December 2006
Print: $49.99
Ebook: $39.99

Head First Object-Oriented Analysis and Design Head First Object-Oriented Analysis and Design
by Brett McLaughlin, Gary Pollice, David West
November 2006
Print: $59.99
Ebook: $50.99

Head Rush Ajax Head Rush Ajax
by Brett McLaughlin
March 2006
Ebook: $31.99

Home Theater Hacks Home Theater Hacks
by Brett McLaughlin
November 2004
Print: $24.95
Ebook: $19.99

Java 5.0 Tiger: A Developer's Notebook Java 5.0 Tiger: A Developer's Notebook
by David Flanagan, Brett McLaughlin
June 2004
Print: $34.99
Ebook: $27.99

Java & XML Data Binding Java & XML Data Binding
by Brett McLaughlin
May 2002
Print: $34.95

Building Java Enterprise Applications Building Java Enterprise Applications
by Brett McLaughlin
March 2002
Print: $39.95

Java and XML Java and XML
by Brett McLaughlin
Second Edition August 2001
OUT OF PRINT

Java and XML Java and XML
by Brett McLaughlin
June 2000
OUT OF PRINT

Great Java Great Java
by Brett McLaughlin
November 2009
Video: $59.99

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Brett blogs at:



What is HTML5?

July 13 2011

HTML5, when used both as the 21st century web suggests and as the original HTML specification allowed, is best at interconnecting things. read more

What is Node.js?

July 06 2011

Learning Node might take a little effort, but it's going to pay off. Why? Because you're afforded solutions to your web application problems that require only JavaScript to solve. read more

We are iPad. Resistance is (not) futile

April 09 2010

When did developers ever need permission to break things? When did Steve Jobs become not just rule maker, but some sort of deity that actually prevented me from ignoring said rule maker, and doing whatever I could with my device? read more

Is the "e" in ebooks the new blink tag?

March 30 2010

The first group/publisher/company/person who moves away from the ebook and to content -- content that can be delivered to a variety of media, digital and non-digital, with display and style applied separate from and after content creation -- wins. read more

Where's the continuity?

August 18 2009

I've recently resumed a childhood love affair with comics. In particular, I'm a fan of the Uncanny X-Men. While they're not as edgy as the Dark Knight, and not as hip as a Dark Horse mini-series, they're what got me started on comics, and what I continually go back to.… read more

"Brain Power" Up Close

June 24 2009

Over the next few weeks, I thought we'd take a close look at some of the common Head First elements. A lot of folks love getting into the pedagogy of Head First, so this is almost a mini-primer to how... read more

Where are the learners?

June 22 2009

I tend to browse around Flickr a lot, and came across this image: So what's missing here? Well, it would seem obvious... except to many technical book authors. See, for most folks, the obvious answer here is, "There are no students!" But for the average technical book author -- and… read more

When do your beliefs become knowledge?

June 08 2009

I've been reading a lot of philosophy lately -- Kierkegaard and Dawkins, Lewis, Hume, Calvin and Augustine, you name it -- for a class I'm taking, as well as for my own enjoyment. One of the interesting things about philosophy is that it's a discipline that takes the understanding of… read more

Your brain really is forgetting... a LOT

April 27 2009

I'm currently reading Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life by Dr. Sandra Aamodt and Dr. Sam Wang. The enormity of the title notwithstanding, I'm enjoying the book, and ran across this rather amazing quotation:… read more

What does it take to be a Head First author?

March 06 2009

Do you ever wish you could write a Head First book? Wondering what it takes? Check out what Brett, the series editor, has to say about writing a Head First book. read more

Ask... no, wait... TELL Tim

February 10 2009

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with Tim. He mentioned that he'd recently taken his first ride on a Jet Ski. Several torturous minutes later, he got off, still alive and capable of detecting faint signals. But his back was suffering... badly. read more

Our brains are sort of... well... stupid

February 02 2009

I've long heard people complain about how commercials represent the basest forms of humanity. Yesterday, I was reminded this, as Twitter was all ablaze with people in outrage over the latest GoDaddy.com commercial. read more

Choose your own adventure... er... learning path

January 14 2009

There's a lot to be said that's positive about our declining economy. (Yeah, it's an odd beginning. But hang in there with me.) In the publishing industry, for example, we're having to be a lot more careful about what products we release. We're also having to be more efficient in… read more

The dreaded EJB question... addressed

January 13 2009

Lots of folks have been clamoring to know about the second edition of Head First EJB. Click Play on the video below to get a direct answer... I promise. read more

It's 2009... learn like it!

January 06 2009

So here we are, a new year. Unsurprisingly, we're getting lots of questions here at the Labs about what's coming in 2009. What books are in progress? What about Rough Cuts and Safari... what's going on there? And where, oh... read more

Special Announcement: Head First PDFs

December 19 2008

Hey there, Head First fans. It's been a crazy year for us here at Head First, and we've been working hard to end the year on an amazing, Joe-Frank-and-Jim would-love-this note. You've already seen our latest newsletter, where we've made... read more

Making the connection

November 26 2008

I'm so completely fascinated by how we get the learning principles that science tells us about into books... but also as to how common phenomenon in life translate into books, as well. Case in point: I've been really working on... read more

The brain is a camera

November 26 2008

We're all about visuals here at Head First. Everything we know, as in we at Head First, and we, as in humans, says that visuals get the brain's attention. There's an ease of remembrance inherent in photos, images, and especially... read more

We still read for enjoyment

November 26 2008

I read to have fun, or for enjoyment, or for entertainment, or perhaps to escape the drudgery of my day. And even if I'm reading non-fiction, or "for learning," I still have to enjoy the book. The writing has to... read more

That great big voice in the sky

November 26 2008

I've thankfully never been into or hooked upon soap operas (although you could argue anything on in the evening that's "character-driven" is little more than a revamped soap opera), but I've from time to time seen a TiVoed or YouTubed... read more

They're so smart, they're telepathic...

November 26 2008

I received an interesting mail today, on something I'd almost forgotten about: There's one thing I find really distracting. All of your speech balloons use a string of circles to connect the speaker to the words. If you buy any... read more

More voices == better books

November 26 2008

I mentioned yesterday that I've been conducting a Head First author training in Boston. We've got about 18 authors (although not that many books) represented, and I've been having the time of my life. What's amazing at these sessions is... read more

We are gawered herwe togewer...

November 26 2008

Okay, so it's hard to write the accent of that crazy minister in The Princess Bride, but hopefully you get the idea. Anyway, I'm writing from a hotel in Boston. In just about an hour, we'll start one of our... read more

Tail Wags Dog? Not so much...

November 26 2008

One of the most common emails we get around here at Head First is the "Will you please publish Head First XXX?" Usually, there are little touches of individuality sprinkled in with these requests... maudlin stories about a child who... read more

Why don't you TELL us what you want

November 26 2008

I've taken a few days off from posting more thoughts on anticipation (see the previous few blog entries), largely because everyone's on holiday and probably not spending much time reading Head First blogs :-) We'll get back to anticipation in... read more

Anticipating Anticipation

November 26 2008

So how does anticipation affect learning? And how can we use anticipation to enhance learning? It's something I've thought about a lot, and while we've never really codified this in Head First, we do tend to work with anticipation in... read more

Anticipation (for a book, a box, a blog...)

November 26 2008

I wonder a lot about anticipation. It's one of the strongest unexplored and unexplained feelings. Heck, I'm not even sure if it's formally a feeling, even. The effect anticipation can have on me, at least, is amazing. And, with Christmas... read more

Presents for under your tree (for next year)

November 26 2008

I'm going to do something that makes me very nervous, because all this Christmas giving makes me -- perhaps -- a little addled in the brain. I'm going to pull back our proverbial kimono 'round here, and tell you a... read more

When the box (or book) finally arrives...

November 26 2008

There's a syndrome, so to speak, in guitar-player circles. It's rather unfortunately known by the acronym GAS, which stands for Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. And while that might seem sort of odd, it's completely relevant to our latest releases, Head First... read more

My three children

November 26 2008

Yes, that's really a copy of Head First C# you see there... and yes, that means it's really out, completed, shipping towards your local B&N and Borders and piling up somewhere at Amazon.com. I thought it appropriate to have my... read more

More on Hello World

November 26 2008

It's been interesting to see what a strong reaction I received to my recent post on Hello, World (you might want to read that post and then come back here if you didn't catch it the first time around). While... read more

I hate Hello, World

November 26 2008

I'm a programmer. Despite being an editor and author, husband, dad, etc., etc., I really started out in "real life" as a programmer, and it still largely defines me. Even though I'm not writing code every single day for 8... read more

Fly away, fly away, Head First C#

November 26 2008

One of my jobs as series editor here in Head First land is to balance what everyone wants (can you say a Head First book a month, every month, forever?) with what's really going on (2 books released this year... read more

Pressure isn't always a bad thing

November 26 2008

Most people hate pressure. They'll tell you pressure makes them nervous, or perhaps they perform badly under pressure. But more often than not, pressure can be a really good thing... Click through for some questions regarding your project experience.... read more

Getting to know you

November 26 2008

This is a continuation of the previous entry, Don't I know you? You can personalize a site by changing its STYLE... Whatever you came up with in terms of customizing a site, it boils down to knowing what your customer... read more

Don't I know you?

November 26 2008

No matter how many fancy acronyms and technologies you throw at your website, it's still all about the customer. And the customer really only cares about one thing: how does your site respond to their needs? When you cut away... read more

Head First or Head Rush?

November 26 2008

Late in 2006, the Head First series was going pretty strong, and lots of people were really into a new technology called Ajax. The folks at Head First Labs went deep underground, and surfaced in February with a new title:... read more

So you wanna be a servlets stud? Or a JSP jedi?

November 26 2008

The next Head First book showing up in your local book store might surprise many of you... it's a brand new edition of Head First Servlets & JSP. This new edition has flown under the radar a bit, competing... read more

In search of a few good authors...

November 26 2008

Suppose you're reading your favorite Head First book, waiting for your stop to come up on the train. You're learning, it's great, you might even laugh a bit along the way. All good stuff, right? But then it hits you,... read more

Did you read the book from that movie?

November 26 2008

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that media is changing the way books are viewed. In fact, video — and YouTube in particular — has already changed how books are sold. Most big fiction releases are heralded by... read more

Did you read the book from that movie?

October 09 2008

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that media is changing the way books are viewed. In fact, video - and YouTube in particular - has already changed how books are sold. Most big fiction releases are heralded by short "book trailers" that give an almost movie-like feel to… read more

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Webcast - Effective Communication: Making your point in a video-game culture
May 19, 2009
In this 60-minute webcast, learn the fundamentals of effective communication. You'll understand how to tailor any content to be engaging, and to speak to your audience's needs in a manner to which they'll respond and interact.

"For readers just starting on design, or those wanting a good introduction without the density of Booch’s book, there is no better option than Head First Object-Oriented Analysis & Design. The Head First series of tutorials from O’Reilly are informal introductions to topics that include puzzles, quizzes, made-up dialogs, and numerous graphical elements that both entertain and instruct. This style is not to everyone’s liking, but it is undeniably effective as a means of teaching technical topics. In almost every category in which there is a Head First title, that book appears on the list of best-sellers on Amazon’s website. Of the Head First volumes I’ve seen, this one and the one on Java are probably the two best."
--Andrew Binstock, SD Times

"I found it hard to write a review about this book. Why? Because apart from a few, very minor typos it is simply superb! In my opinion, it is one of the best and sure to be one of the most influential books in this subject area. The O’Reilly Head First series of books are fast becoming the de facto standard, and I recommend that anyone who wants to get a deeper understanding of how you should approach designing and developing software, read this book, no matter what your background or current skill set is. To date, I’ve read this book twice, cover to cover. It is not a particularly thin book, but it is very easy to read...It is a practical, readable and refreshing step-by-step walkthrough of the development process. It covers how to incorporate flexibility into all aspects of the software development life cycle. This book leads you through simple and then more advanced concepts by allowing you, the reader, to make the connections. In addition, it gives an easy to understand introduction to UML class diagrams."
--Mitch Wheat, Perth .NET CoP

"If you need to know a lot about the use of XML in Java (and who doesn't need that), the book gives you the needed information. Sometimes it was a bit boring, because of the wealth of given generalized toolkits. But if I use one of those toolkits, I know where I can get relevant information about it. I recommend it more as a book of references, than a book you should read from start to finish."
--Bart Vrancken, JavaLobby

"Are you developing with Java and need to use XML? If you are, then this book is for you. Authors Brett McLaughlin and Justin Edelson, have done an outstanding job of writing a book that that cuts through all of the hype about XML and put it to work...This most excellent book shows you how to use the APIs, tools, and tricks of XML to build real world applications. Perhaps more importantly, this book offers a new approach to managing information that touches everything from configuration files to web sites."
--John Vacca, Amazon.com

"...a core acquisition for the personal, academic, and professional computer library seeking a solid reference with respect to Java and XML applications."
--James A. Cox, California Bookwatch

"If you're a software developer or engineer - or a library catering to such patrons - you have to keep Head First Object-Oriented Analysis & Design in your reference section. It appeals to newcomers to the field, offering all the basics on how to analyze, design, and write serious object-oriented software, and explains the principles in language that assumes no prior familiarity with such analysis. Plenty of real-world examples and applications make for a top recommendation."
--James A. Cox, California Bookwatch

"There are solid guidelines within the book which portray OOA as flexible in the real world - in a way which is much more readable than many OOA&D texts out there. For those unfamiliar with Head First Labs, this would be a novelty - for those familiar with Head First Labs, this is expected."
--Taran Rampersad, KnowProse.com

"The first book written about Object-Oriented Analysis & Design (OOAD) that seeks to present information in the way that your brain works. It approaches the software development process with an emphasis on software, not code, on depth, not breadth. Using modern research in neurobiology, cognitive science, and learning theory, the authors stress the importance of the application rather than the theory. The objective of the book is to show readers how to analyze, design, and write valid object-oriented software that can be reused, maintained, and extended."
--Michael Kleper, The Kleper Report on Digital Publishing

"Head Rush Ajax is a great beginning course that covers a few fundamental JavaScript programming concepts. A beginning web developer will benefit from its slow, repetitive style that mixes graphics, conversational text, handwritten notes and homework-like exercises."
--Eric Walstad, BayPIGgies

"The Head First series is unique in that it makes it fun to learn a new and maybe somewhat confusing topic (like OOP). It takes the material and uses exercises, illustrations, and simple games to help the reader understand the information the author is trying to get across. It is not for everyone, but it's a great way in my opinion to teach the reader the material that helps them from not getting too bored. If you quickly glance at the book and see the many images that do not seem to relate to the material at all you will miss the really great material that is hidden within it. You really need to read the first 10 pages to know if this is the book for you or not. But if you do, then I am really sure you will want to continue to read the rest of the book. ...A great book that I highly recommend."
--Frank Stepanski, Amazon.com