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The Essential Guide to Java for Beginners

Brent Peterson March 12, 2020

The Essential Guide to Java for Beginners

20 years ago, Sun Microsystems (the originator of the Java platform) described Java as “a simple, object-oriented, network-savvy, interpreted, robust, secure, architecture-neutral, portable, high-performance, multithreaded, dynamic computer language.” Although this may have sounded a bit over-confident back in 2000, the Java platform and language continue to thrive to this day…and it can be quite a valuable language to pick up.

Overview of Java’s History

In the early 1990s, a team of developers at Sun Microsystems was already imagining a future where consumer devices would be capable of running various applications. They wanted to build a language that developers could “write once, run anywhere” to help make this dream become a reality. This primary goal led them to create the Java language and platform, which was released officially in 1995. Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle a few years later, and the Java language continued to gain popularity.

Java is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language, sharing some commonalities with Python, C++, and C#. Java is also a platform, which means that Java code can run on virtually any machine that has a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) on it. Today, this means that developers can write a single code that will be able to function on a wide variety of devices.

Why Java is Great for Beginners

If you’re completely new to coding and want to create your own applications, Java is an excellent language to start with. There are numerous reasons why Java is so beginner-friendly, such as:

  • It has a solid foundation. Java has been around for 25 years, so it’s a well-established language with plenty of online resources, books, and guidelines that can help you pick up the basics in a snap.
  • There is a global network of support. It’s estimated that there are more Java developers than any other type of programmer around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people are passionate about the language, so it will be easy to find answers to all of your questions.
  • Java is similar to other computer languages. Java, along with other popular computer languages, derives from C. If you begin learning Java, you’ll gain a good understanding of the basics of other languages like Javascript, C#, and C++. Also, because Java is an object-oriented language, several of the concepts you learn with Java can be transferred to other computer languages.
  • Java can run on multiple platforms. General-purpose languages like Java are made to run on all kinds of platforms, including Mac products, Windows, Linux machines, and even your cell phone.

Tips for Getting Started

Just like learning any kind of new skill, you’ll have to be patient and diligent with yourself. Gaining a solid understanding of the basics is essential before you attempt to start coding and developing applications. You can check out this comprehensive list of tutorials from Baeldung that breaks down every concept of the language, from the basic syntax to creating and writing files to Java collections, or you can check out books on Java from your local library, join a class, or find an array of video tutorials online.

However, you choose to dive into this language, keep the following tips in mind to make the most out of your studying:

  • Stay up-to-date with different Java topics. Java, like any other language, isn’t static. It’s constantly changing and evolving, so consider reading current articles and other publications to maintain interest in the language and ensure that your understanding of it is up-to-date.
  • Practice coding regularly. However, simply reading up on the language isn’t enough if you want to become truly comfortable with Java. Think of it like playing an instrument; you can learn how to read sheet music and recognize the correct fingerings for different notes without ever actually picking up an instrument, but you wouldn’t really know how to create music. You’ll need to get comfortable with making mistakes and experimenting with Java before you get the hang of it.
  • Consider joining a class or group. It can be difficult for anyone to tackle something new completely on their own. You may start feeling discouraged or frustrated, and a lack of accountability can make it all too easy to throw in the towel and move on to something else. To combat this, think about joining a study group or taking a class in Java. You can often find workshops and classes about Java where you can find in-person support and encouragement, and you’ll be able to get instantaneous answers to your coding questions and help others along the way.

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