There aren’t many programming career paths for which learning Java would be a poor investment. Often touted as the most widely-used language of all time, Java is part of everything from old legacy software hidden on a company’s mainframe to bleeding-edge work in AI, data science, and machine learning.
Perhaps, having read this, you now experience a desire to learn this powerful language. This article will give you the information you need to take your first steps toward doing so.
Picking an Environment for Coding in Java
Most development work is done in an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), the purpose of which is to make programmers more productive. A good IDE does a number of things to accomplish this goal, including highlighting syntax to make code easier to read, helping track down bugs, and auto-completing code to reduce the amount of typing needed to complete a project.
Given its age and stature, there are lots of free IDEs for Java. One popular one is NetBeans, which also supports languages besides Java. NetBeans allows for version control by integrating with Git, CVS, Subversion and other version-control platforms, and it’s easy to extend.
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If mobile and web development are more interesting to you, consider Eclipse. Its thorough integration with numerous other development suites allows you to rapidly work across languages to build applications that will work across platforms.
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Good Resources for Getting Started with Coding in Java
Project-based learning is one of the most effective means of acquiring programming skill, and in the case of Java, it would be hard to find something you couldn’t make with it. The real question, then, is what you’re interested in.
Here are some resources for learning Java, chosen based on their relevance to different interests:
- Java: A Beginner’s Guide, Herbert Schildt. This book is in its eight edition, and books rarely make it that far without being of value. Check it out if you’re completely new to programming.
- Starting Out with Java: From Control Structures through Data Structures, Tony Gaddis and Godfrey Muganda. While this is also a book aimed at Java novices, it covers some fairly serious topics from computer science. Choose this only if you’re bold.
- Learning Java by Building Android Games, John Horton. If you like the idea of building games, or are interested specifically in the Android platform, this would be a great way to dip your toe into these fields and Java at the same time.
- Data Science with Java: Practical Methods for Scientists and Engineer, Michael Brzustowicz. If you’re interested in becoming an analyst with a strong knowledge of Java, this is the book for you.
- Hands-On Artificial Intelligence with Java for Beginners, Nisheeth Joshi. AI is all the rage, and a supremely important field. Learn it and Java with this book which, incredibly, is still aimed at beginners.
- Artificial Neural Networks with Java, Igor Livshin. Neural networks are being discussed as key technologies for everything from facial recognition to self-driving cars. They’re also a lot of fun to build.
This list could be expanded indefinitely. As you can see there are many, many pathways into this rewarding and challenging language.
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