Java is one of the most widely known programming languages in the world. If you learn how to code in Java, you will have access to a wide range of opportunities. Professionals who know how to learn Java and apply it to a range of development environments are in-demand. If you want to learn Java, this article is for you.
Java is a versatile and widely supported programming language used for everything from software development to mobile application development. In fact, as of 2019, 88 percent of the market share of smartphones was held by Android, and Android is written using Java. Learning to code in Java can mean job security and earning a high, competitive salary.
So, how do you learn to code in Java? In this article, we will break down our top tips for how you can start your Java journey. We will also give you a list of actionable recommendations on topics you can explore. By the end of reading this article, you’ll have a clear roadmap to guide you through learning Java.
Why Learn Java?
You should learn Java because it is widely used. Knowing how to learn Java programming optimally to gain strong skills in Java will take you a long way in your career. This is because companies of all sizes, even companies like Netflix, report using Java. Listing Java as a skill on your resume is a good way to get yourself into a software engineering interview.
Why learn Java compared to other programming languages? Well, Java is considered a relatively easy language to learn for beginners if you invest the right amount of time and effort. This is because Java has simple syntax. Whether you are completely new to programming or you already know a thing or two, Java can be a great place to start.
There is no shortage of resources online to help you learn Java. There are many communities online dedicated to Java development, making it incredibly easy to find quality help if you get stuck along your journey. In addition to communities, you’ll encounter comprehensive guides and tutorials that can help you master the fundamentals and debug errors.
Is Java Hard to Learn?
Yes, Java is hard to learn if you’re brand new to coding. Learning Java can be tricky depending on how much experience you have. You’ll encounter many challenges along the way, but none that cannot be overcome. If you have some prior experience in programming, you’ll find it easier to learn Java.
Programming is a complicated skill, requiring you to think very carefully about the instructions you want to give to a computer. For all their dazzling sophistication, computers really just execute simple steps over and over again very quickly. It doesn’t sound like it would be hard to break a problem into little steps, but it can be.
As with anything else, you’ll probably find Java easier to learn if you have some contextual knowledge about programming. Java is difficult to learn at the beginning as you begin to understand the fundamentals of programming but becomes easier over time. Knowing how to learn Java in the most productive way will help make this learning period easier.
What Is Java Used For?
Java is a general-purpose language, which means it has a range of potential use cases. Java is commonly used in enterprise settings, like the financial industry. Also, Java coding is used for developing applications for Android devices.
Because the Android operating system was built using Java, you’ll find millions of mobile applications around the world use Java.
Java is widely used in web development as a backend server. This is because Java has a range of frameworks, like Spring and Struts, which were designed to make backend web development easy.
Many modern-day desktop applications were written in Java. For instance, the video game Minecraft was written using Java. There are plenty of frameworks available that extend the functions of Java for desktop applications and what you can do in Java when it comes to building functional websites is vast.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Java?
With the right amount of practice and dedication, you should be able to learn the fundamentals of Java in about three months. Expect to spend at least a year becoming fully familiar with the language. How long to learn Java programming depends on how much prior coding knowledge you have before beginning.
Of course, this estimate depends on how much time you dedicate to learning Java. If you study for a few hours a week, learning Java in three months is a good estimate. When it comes to how long it takes to master Java, it could take years, and with programming languages constantly updating, there will always be a need to stay on top of new advancements in the language.
Those who enroll in a coding course may learn quicker depending on the pace of the course. Obviously, someone who studies part-time or full-time will learn quicker than someone who studies in their spare time. How to learn Java, whether through a bootcamp or through a self-paced free online course, will determine how long it takes you as well.
How to Learn Java Online
Figuring out how to learn Java is just as important as learning the language itself. This is because learning to code in Java requires hands-on practice as well as repetition through small exercises to master programming concepts. Courses that make you work on projects are also a highly effective way to learn Java.
Knowing how to learn Java in the best way can help your learning become more efficient and effective. The best ways to learn Java will vary among people depending on their personal style of studying and the ways in which they learn best. Below are the steps you should follow to learn Java online free of charge.
Step 1: Reflect on Your Motivation and Set a Goal
Before you start any new educational journey, consider taking some time to reflect on your motivation for it. In this case, consider asking yourself the question:
Why do I want to learn Java?
By thinking about this question upfront, you will have a North Star to which you can look along your journey. That way, if you ever get stuck, you’ll have a reason (or reasons) to continue.
In addition, consider setting a clear goal for what you want to accomplish. Are you interested in pursuing a career in software engineering? Great! In that case, you should focus on Java and software. Are you looking to build mobile apps on the side? If so, you’ll want to master the basics of Java, then explore Java and mobile application development.
Step 2: Learn the Basics of Java
One mistake that many new developers make is to delve headfirst into learning a programming language. This is a problem. Ignoring the fundamentals may mean that you may lack the knowledge you need to explore more advanced topics further down the line.
You can learn the basics of Java through a structured online Java course, books, or Java tutorials. Mastering Java coding basics will set you up for more advanced Java coding, but will also help you find errors or bugs in code much quicker. These are the Java fundamentals that you should familiarize yourself with:
- Classes and objects
- Inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation
- Data structures
Ultimately, mastering the fundamentals will give you a greater grasp of how the Java programming language works. So, if someone asks, “What does encapsulation mean?” you’ll be able to answer them effectively. Furthermore, once you’ve mastered the basics, you will be ready to take the next step on your journey to learning Java: building projects.
Step 3: Create Your Own Projects
While learning theory is important, there is no substitute for building your own projects. The best way to learn Java is to, after mastering the theory, move on to building practical projects. Doing so will reinforce the foundational skills you are developing.
Even working on small and simple projects can give you a new take on the theory you learned. This will allow you to improve your knowledge of how the Java programming language works.
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Building your own projects encourages you to think about a problem in depth. You’ll learn to use analytical thinking to come up with a solution to the problem you are tackling. Learn Java with projects that encourage you to think outside the box.
Here are a few ideas of what you could build:
- An online trivia game for programmers
- A tool that tracks your favorite books
- A simple online chat application that allows you to communicate with your friends
- A currency conversion mobile app
- A flashcard tool to help you revise your knowledge of Java
But don’t let our suggestions limit you. If you have an idea, try to build it! When you’re getting started, you should start small to make sure you are working toward goals you can meet. Then, once you build up your confidence with Java, you can take on new challenges.
Step 4: Ask for Help and Join Communities
Another common mistake new programmers make is to code in isolation. “I’ll learn this by myself, then share my skills with others when I’m done” is a common refrain. Learning alone makes you feel more comfortable, but it also means that you’ll struggle to find support as soon as you need it.
It’s important that you take control of your own learning, but you should not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It is very likely that another programmer at some point faced the problem you encountered! Asking people for help is a great way to find a solution to the challenges you are facing.
You may be asking, “Where can I find people who can help me on my journey?” Well, luckily for you, the Internet is filled with communities for programmers of all aptitudes, from beginners to experts.
As a beginner Java developer, you can join communities like Dev.to, CodeGym Help, and Stack Overflow, which all have areas dedicated to Java development. You could even subscribe to the Learn Java subreddit on Reddit. These communities are great places to meet fellow developers who can assist you on your journey to mastering Java.
Step 5: Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is the key to learning any skill, but it’s especially important when learning a programming language like Java. If you’re not convinced, here are a few reasons why practice is so important when you are learning Java:
- Practice makes it easy to find your mistakes. As you develop more experience, you will find it easier to identify and correct your past mistakes.
- Practice encourages you to keep going. The more you practice, the more likely you are to continue your journey to learning Java.
- Practice helps you master best practices. The only way to know how to write effective Java code is to try writing code your own way. Then, you can update your work as you learn about new techniques and best practices.
As the adage goes: practice makes perfect. If you’re struggling to make a schedule, there’s one rule that can help: code every day. Try to get in as much practice as possible so that you have frequent opportunities to flex your coding muscles.
Java Basics: Master Java Fundamentals
The Java programming language encompasses a wide range of concepts, and even expert Java developers are still learning how to best use the language. With that said, there are a few key topics that you should master at the start of your journey. Let’s explore these core concepts further below so you can develop your coding skills more quickly and with focus.
The first step of learning any programming language is to master the syntax of the language. Developers use the word “syntax” to describe the way they write code. Syntax refers to, among other things, how code is written, what characters are used and where, and how to add comments to a file.
Here are Java syntax basics you’ll need to learn before going further:
- How Java programs are run
- The data types used in Java
- Java operators
- Java expressions
- How to write comments in Java
Once you develop a fundamental understanding of these, you will be better equipped to understand elements of Java syntax, including conditionals, loops, arrays, and others.
A conditional performs certain actions depending on whether a specific condition or set of conditions are met. There are various types of conditional statements to understand when learning to code Java.
The four types of conditional statements are:
- If statements
- Else statements
- Else-if statements
- Switch statements
When programming, you may decide you want to run a block of code multiple times. That’s where loops come in. Loops allow you to automate repetitive tasks. They reduce the need for duplicate code.
An array is a data type that stores multiple values. These values must be of the same data type. For instance, an array can hold a list of student names or a list of employee email addresses. Knowing how to declare or initialize a Java array is a crucial fundamental of Java programming.
The main subtopics of Java arrays to study are:
- Declaring an array
- Indexing arrays
- Manipulating data in arrays
- Declare multidimensional arrays
- Copying an array
Classes and Objects
Java is an object-oriented programming language. In Java, classes and objects are used to break down complex problems into simpler components. Classes are blueprints for objects. For instance, a class could store details about a car, such as its tire type, and so on.
Objects use a class blueprint to create an individual item. For instance, an object could store details about a specific car, like a Lotus 72 or a Porsche 959.
The main topics you need to master in this area are:
- Declaring an object
- Initializing an object
- Invoking class constructors
- Understanding anonymous objects
- Creating multiple objects
Inheritance, Polymorphism, and Encapsulation
Object-Object-oriented programming languages like Java have many features that allow developers to improve code efficiency and reduce code repetition. In Java, once you learn about classes, there are three core object-oriented concepts you need to know. These are:
- Inheritance: describes how you can define a new class using properties of an existing class.
- Polymorphism: describes how an object can take on many forms in a program.
- Encapsulation: a technique used to bundle fields and methods in a class.
In addition, spend time learning about method overriding and the Java super keyword, both of which are related to Java inheritance.
Data structures refer to systems that allow you to store information in specific ways. An array, which we discussed earlier in this guide, is one example of a Java data structure. Java offers a wide range of other data structures you can use too.
Here are a few of the most common data structures you should learn:
- Hash table
- Binary tree
Even the best programmers make mistakes at some point. Programmers use debugging to identify and correct errors in their code. Being able to effectively debug a program reduces the impact of errors in your code.
To better understand debugging in Java, study the following topics:
- Step filtering
- Conditional breakpoints
- Environmental variables
- Logical structures
Java for Web Development
If you have an interest in web development, you’ll come across the first hurdle many people in this field face: choosing exactly how to develop your websites. There are several programming languages, frameworks, and programs for web developers to utilize. Java web development is one option.
One of the most important things to decide when it comes to web development is which programming language to use. One of the most popular languages for web design is Java. Below is a guide to Java web development for those who want to start their career in this growing field.
What Is Java Web Development?
Java web development is a process that encompasses all aspects of creating a website using the Java programming language. A web developer may be responsible for client-side or server-side development. Some developers work in design while others focus on the functionality of a webpage.
The various hats that web developers wear mean there is a lot to learn when it comes to web development. However, it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. As long as you start with the right tools and put in the effort, anyone can create a web application using Java.
Why Use Java for Web Development?
Java is one of the most popular programming languages around. In addition to a large amount of support, Java allows its users to create applications that are fast and customizable. The programming language shares similarities to other popular languages, such as C and C++. However, some key differences separate them.
While Java is object-oriented like C languages, it still has non-objective features due to it supporting primitive data types. Java is also highly versatile. Developers use the programming language for mobile apps, desktop apps, and, of course, web apps.
A significant feature of Java is that in comparison to some C languages, Java code is easier to maintain. This is due to Java preventing developers from initiating commands that could lead to poor programming. Certain things, such as memory access violations, don’t occur, meaning you avoid situations that cause your program or application to crash.
Learn Java Online
To help you get started on your learning journey, check out the following resources that are recommended by beginners to learn Java. We show you the best courses, both paid and free, books, resources, and certifications to master this language.
Online Java Courses
Java online courses help you study from home instead of commuting to a traditional learning environment. By taking online Java training courses, you also have the flexibility of learning when it’s convenient for you. The online courses below provide some of the best Java training for beginners, intermediate programmers, and professionals in the field today.
- Cost: $84.99
- Audience: Beginners
The Java Programming for Complete Beginners course on Udemy offers 31 hours of videos, complete with hands-on exercises to help you master foundational Java. Upon finishing the course you earn a certificate of completion.
- Cost: $3,825
- Audience: People with 2 years of experience in programming
The University of Washington offers this certificate in Java programming. Taught part-time over eight months, this course jumps right into Java programming topics such as APIs and advanced language features.
Free Java Courses
There is no need to spend money to learn how to code in Java. There are plenty of free online resources you can use to master the Java programming language. Taking Java courses free of charge means you can spend longer learning if you need to without the added stress of making the most of your time in a paid course. Some of the top free Java courses are below.
- Audience: Beginners
This online course covers the basics of Java and object-oriented programming. Learn Java takes 25 hours to complete. In this time, you’ll create seven projects that will help you practice your skills. This course was recently updated to provide the most current teachings and information related to Java programming.
- Audience: Beginners
This course offered through Coursera covers the fundamentals of coding in Java. You’ll work on a range of projects throughout the course to build your understanding of core programming ideas. Then, you’ll work on a capstone project to practice everything you have learned in the course.
- Audience: Beginners
This tutorial comes with over 16 hours of material on the Java programming language. You’ll cover the fundamentals of Java and how the Java collections data types work.
Online Java Books
You can read a book to learn Java, which brings your Java programming study right into your home. Java programming books can help you master both basic concepts and more advanced concepts. They can go into more detail as well which could help you master your Java coding skills more quickly. Some of the best books to learn Java are below.
Head First Java does what it says on the cover: it provides a detailed introduction to Java for beginner programmers. You’ll cover everything from the basics of programming all the way to inputs and outputs.
This book is a step-by-step guide on how to code in Java. With the help of 57 practical examples, you’ll go from knowing very little to nothing about Java to having a firm grasp of the fundamentals. This book talks about variables, the Java Development Kit, decision-making, and more.
Java: A Beginner’s Guide starts with the basics of Java and writing a program. Then, you’ll go on to discuss intermediate and advanced concepts. This will help you develop a well-rounded knowledge of Java. The book comes with a range of hands-on exercises to test your skills. You’ll also find annotated example syntax that illustrates how particular concepts work.
Online Java Resources
Online Java learning resources can make learning Java programming more flexible. The best Java resources provide tutorials, articles, and updates on everything Java. These online resources for Java coding are useful for Java developers of all experience levels.
This free online tutorial is aimed at beginners who want to start coding in Java. This guide walks you through all the concepts you need to master the basics of Java. It includes handy images and screenshots throughout the tutorial to help you navigate the IDE software and better visualize the code you’re writing and learning.
This website has a wide range of tutorials and code snippets that cover beginner, intermediate, and advanced concepts. It also has an immense catalog of articles on Java programming to help you find the answers to your toughest questions.
Java 101 is a free online resource about programming with an entire section on Java containing articles on how to learn Java concepts. It also offers the latest updates on different versions of Java.
Oracle has a free online Java tutorial covering both the basics and more advanced concepts. These tutorials are good if you are ready to practice your Java skills or if you need a reference guide for a particular concept.
You should explore a few different options before picking one so that you focus your attention on a tutorial that meets your needs. With so many options, you should have no trouble finding a tutorial that works for you.
Having Java certifications means that you’ve passed a skills examination provided by the industry itself. This credential shows future employers that you have the approved skills required by the field to succeed in any professional Java programming role. Below are some of the top Java certifications available. All of these Java certifications are provided by Oracle University.
This associate Java certification requires hands-on programming experience in Java, but nothing else, which makes it great for beginners in the field. The prep courses help you gain the foundational knowledge necessary for working as a Java developer. The exam costs $245 and culminates in a 150-minute exam with 70 multiple-choice questions.
The Oracle Certified Professional: Java SE 11 Developer certification is for candidates who wish to have proof of their Java SE fluency. This certification exam lasts 90 minutes and costs $245. A score of 68 percent is required to pass this exam and earn the certification.
This Java certification is for intermediate and advanced skill level programmers who work as front end and backend application developers and software engineers and architects. Up-to-date experience and previous Java certifications are preferred for this 110-minute exam. The certification exam costs $245 and requires a passing score of 66 percent.
How to Code in Java
To learn Java, you need to download it to your computer. Some Windows PCs may come with Java already installed, which you can check using the Command Prompt. If it’s not yet installed, you can find a free download on the Oracle website.
After downloading and setting up Java, you can use a simple text editor in which to write your code, such as Sublime, Visual Studio Code, or Atom. Another option for development work is with an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which serves the purpose of making programmers more productive.
Picking a Java IDE
A good IDE does a number of things to enhance the productivity of programmers, 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, all of which will help you as you learn Java best practices. 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.
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.
Should I Learn Java Programming?
Yes, Java is an excellent programming language to learn, whether you’re new to programming or are a seasoned programmer. At the start of your journey, you should focus on mastering the fundamentals such as syntax, conditionals, loops, and debugging. After you are familiar with the basic concepts of Java, you can start working on a few projects.
The benefits of learning Java are clear. You’ll learn a new skill that can help you start a career in tech. You can also use Java to solve the problems you have with code. With the advice we have covered in this guide, you’re ready to start your journey to learning how to code in Java. Check out our directory of Java resources to help you start your journey.
How to Learn Java FAQ
Yes, Java is easy to learn, and it’s a very popular coding language and therefore has many online resources and communities dedicated to helping people learn how to code in Java. It is also easy if you already have some programming knowledge. Without prior experience, Java could be more challenging to learn at the start.
How fast can I learn Java?
You can learn Java fast, in about three months, if you are looking to gain core Java programming skills quickly. If you want to know how to learn Java fast, our article above shares everything you need to know. It details the best ways to learn Java programming fast through online courses, online tutorials, and Java books.
Can you teach yourself Java programming?
Yes, you can certainly teach yourself Java. Because developing web applications and mobile applications is done through computers, learning how to teach yourself Java programming completely online is an easy and plausible way to develop Java coding skills.
What are the prerequisites for learning Java?
Luckily, for beginners, there are no Java prerequisites when starting to learn Java. While being familiar with how to use a text editor or IDE may be helpful, as is having coding knowledge in other languages, neither are Java programming prerequisites. There are a ton of beginner-friendly Java courses and tutorials available to help beginners with no prior coding experience.
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