I found the following in the "Apache Tomcat Bible" from
Eaves, Jones & Godfrey.
The Java SDK and Runtime Environment is now installed, to
complete the installation so Java can be used easily set the
following environment variables :
In "Java, how to program, 6th edition" from Deitel, the authors
show how you can edit these variables using the system properties
dialog by right clicking My Computer. But the purpose is the same :
The last step before you can use the JDK is to set the PATH environment
variable to indicate where the JDK's tools are installed.
Mind you, Deitel shows you should add the complete path
c:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.5.0\bin to the PATH variable.
So, there is no need to use the JAVA_HOME variable.
And why is that ? Well, as Deitel indicates :
The PATH environment variable on your computer designates which directories
the computer searches when looking for applications, such as the applications
that enable you to compile and run your Java applications (called javac.exe and
Now, about adding to the classpath every folder in which you have created your
classes. Well, I'm only in java web applications; I've never written any java
applications using Swing or AWT. I'm using Tomcat as web server and I've
never had to add the folders containing my classes to the PATH variable.
I just let Tomcat know which web applications are available and he does the rest.
So, I guess this could be similar for java applications.