Should I Start With Java?

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#1 Graxun  Icon User is offline

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Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:23 PM

Hey, thanks for viewing my thread. Anyways I was wondering if I should start with Java as my first language. I have been slightly using Java since June but i'm not like deep in it, should I turn back now and start on something else? What is the easiest to code in? Eclipse, or NetBeans. Sorry i'm a bit of a noob. Also where could I find some tutorials?

Thanks.
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#2 nunc  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:29 PM

I started off with Netbeans. And Java is a great language to start off in! Look up some tutorials on youtube, or go to thenewboston Java tutorials to start you off.
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:31 PM

What you should do, clearly, is the thing that gets you to where you want to be in the most efficient and enjoyable fashion. Where you want to be and what you enjoy are two of the many things we don't know about you, so it's hard for anyone here to take an informed position on this.

I can tell you that Java seems to me like a good first language to learn, but not a good last one. Is it the best one for you? Depends what you want to do.
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#4 Graxun  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:31 PM

View Postnunc, on 05 November 2012 - 08:29 PM, said:

I started off with Netbeans. And Java is a great language to start off in! Look up some tutorials on youtube, or go to thenewboston Java tutorials to start you off.


Thanks for the speedy reply, I will look further into the tutorials, as I have seen some before, but was wondering if there were anymore.
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#5 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:39 PM

What is your background? Are you a student, hobbyist or professional? Java is a popular instructional language in high school and college curricula. It is also a popular language in the professional world, with Android and Java EE applications. If you are starting out, focus on the basics of Java SE. We have some good resource threads to help you get started on finding an IDE and picking a good book. I also have a thread that outlines a sequence for learning, with suggested tutorials. Hope this helps some!
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#6 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:41 PM

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View PostGraxun, on 05 November 2012 - 10:23 PM, said:

What is the easiest to code in? Eclipse, or NetBeans.


Wrong question. You don't want the easiest at this point, you want the thing that teaches you the most. You can go with easy once you know what you're doing. I recommend a text editor and the java compiler - vi is what I use, but some people like emacs and they don't seem to be damaged too much by it. This forces you to engage with your code hands-on, instead of in the mediated environment of an IDE. For example, you'll have to find your own typos, which is good, because it forces you to actually know what you're doing. IDEs are great because you don't have to know what you're doing - but the trouble is, you can get a long way down the road before you realize you have no clue what's going on, and then you have to start over, which is a drag.
Similarly, you have to format your code, do your own indenting and such like. This forces you to think about structure, which is easy to ignore in an IDE.


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Also where could I find some tutorials?

The best place to start is here. Walk through these "trails", starting with "Getting Started" and try all of the code that you see - try to understand what's going on and why it works. Don't copy and paste - you need to pursue this actively, not passively. (for the same reason, you should stay away from video tutorials - nobody ever learned anything by drooling in front of a television)
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#7 Graxun  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:41 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 05 November 2012 - 08:39 PM, said:

What is your background? Are you a student, hobbyist or professional? Java is a popular instructional language in high school and college curricula. It is also a popular language in the professional world, with Android and Java EE applications. If you are starting out, focus on the basics of Java SE. We have some good resource threads to help you get started on finding an IDE and picking a good book. I also have a thread that outlines a sequence for learning, with suggested tutorials. Hope this helps some!


I'm currently in 10th grade, and my Guidance Consular said I should start looking at colleges that offer what i'm interested in, and i'm extremely interested in Computer Science / Computer Programming, it would also be great if someone could help me guide me in the right direction for that too.

Skype: Graxun
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#8 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:44 PM

We have a lot of threads on choosing a major and a college in our Student Campus forum. You may find those helpful.

Given your age, I'd say Java is a good starting language. You may want to see if your school offers the AP Computer Science class. If not, talk with your guidance counselor about preparing for the exam.
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#9 Graxun  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:46 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 05 November 2012 - 08:44 PM, said:

We have a lot of threads on choosing a major and a college in our Student Campus forum. You may find those helpful.

Given your age, I'd say Java is a good starting language. You may want to see if your school offers the AP Computer Science class. If not, talk with your guidance counselor about preparing for the exam.


No they don't offer it sadly, if they did i'd be all over that. Is there anyway I can talk to you via Chat so it would be easier to talk.
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#10 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:48 PM

If it's a programming related question, I only help out on the forums. Things like which language, which IDE, which books, etc., I generally only answer on the forums as well. For other questions, you can shoot me a PM.
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#11 Graxun  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 05 November 2012 - 08:50 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 05 November 2012 - 08:48 PM, said:

If it's a programming related question, I only help out on the forums. Things like which language, which IDE, which books, etc., I generally only answer on the forums as well. For other questions, you can shoot me a PM.


Alright well i'm going to hop on my iPad real quick then go on the forums from there to ask questions and read tutorials. Such a welcoming community, I mean it.
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#12 RodgerB  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 06 November 2012 - 07:42 AM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 06 November 2012 - 02:41 PM, said:

Wrong question. You don't want the easiest at this point, you want the thing that teaches you the most. You can go with easy once you know what you're doing. I recommend a text editor and the java compiler - vi is what I use, but some people like emacs and they don't seem to be damaged too much by it. This forces you to engage with your code hands-on, instead of in the mediated environment of an IDE.


I would have to disagree with you here. If you're using an IDE simply for the passive convenience of auto-generating everything without too much thought then yes you're correct. However, using an IDE as a tool rather than a crutch allows for faster learning in my opinion.

IDE's check for potential problems in real-time, meaning you're not writing big chunks of code and then needing to decypher what the error actually is from the compiler's error log or run javac every time you're not sure. By getting faster feedback about what is and isn't semantically correct, and have a decent indication of where the error is, the new programmer is able to better recognise what is and isn't acceptable at the points that they've made the error so they can then rectify it and continue.

If an IDE is adjusting the structure of the code this should actually provide the new programmer with feedback on the correct styling and conventions used in Java. A text editor isn't going to provide this type of feedback (unless it has some extending module or fancy inbuilt feature) and hence the new programmer can't actually learn anything unless they're strictly learning by example.

IDE's also make aware of the many different constructors an object can have and this saves time thumbling around Javadocs, and as I said before, if the IDE is being used as a tool rather than a crutch, the programmer will learn more and be exposed to Object Orientated Design decisions such as constructor overloading gently rather than being left for dead in Javadocs.

For these reasons I personally wouldn't recommend using a text editor at first and I certainly wouldn't be pushing the use of vi or emacs if you haven't used either of them as there are a lot of commands to remember and it's just not practical to be fighting with your tools while you're still learning the craft.

I do however agree that using a text editor is great way to consolidate skills that have been developed over time, and to also get a bit of background on the method the IDEs are actually using to converting the source code to Java bytecode.
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#13 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:05 AM

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IDE's check for potential problems in real-time, meaning you're not writing big chunks of code and then needing to decypher what the error actually is from the compiler's error log or run javac every time you're not sure. By getting faster feedback about what is and isn't semantically correct, and have a decent indication of where the error is, the new programmer is able to better recognise what is and isn't acceptable at the points that they've made the error so they can then rectify it and continue.

That's a good point, and one I have mixed feelings about. I see a lot of beginners unsure of how to post errors, or simply saying "I got a red line on Eclipse" as their error. Maybe something more lightweight than NetBeans or Eclipse would be good to start off with. I think compilation errors should still be clearly printed upon compilation, and the compilation process should be clear. Plus, it teaches beginners how to read compilation errors. As always, compiling often is a good practice to get into.
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#14 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:11 AM

View PostRodgerB, on 06 November 2012 - 09:42 AM, said:

I would have to disagree with you here. If you're using an IDE simply for the passive convenience of auto-generating everything without too much thought then yes you're correct. However, using an IDE as a tool rather than a crutch allows for faster learning in my opinion.


So basically, turning off everything that makes it an IDE?
Okay, I could agree with you on that. :)



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IDE's check for potential problems in real-time, meaning you're not writing big chunks of code and then needing to decypher what the error actually is from the compiler's error log or run javac every time you're not sure. By getting faster feedback about what is and isn't semantically correct, and have a decent indication of where the error is, the new programmer is able to better recognise what is and isn't acceptable at the points that they've made the error so they can then rectify it and continue.



This is exactly where we diverge. The compiler output, in my view, is much better feedback for the programmer. Having to go back and find the problem for yourself actually forces you to learn it. Punching keys until the red goes away is more like Skinner training pigeons than anything to do with learning.



Quote

If an IDE is adjusting the structure of the code this should actually provide the new programmer with feedback on the correct styling and conventions used in Java. A text editor isn't going to provide this type of feedback (unless it has some extending module or fancy inbuilt feature) and hence the new programmer can't actually learn anything unless they're strictly learning by example.


If the IDE does it for you, you don't learn anything from that. This is like saying you can take pictures with an automatic camera and learn about aperture settings.
Programming is a practice, you learn it by doing it. Hiring someone to do it for you defeats the purpose.



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IDE's also make aware of the many different constructors an object can have and this saves time thumbling around Javadocs, and as I said before, if the IDE is being used as a tool rather than a crutch, the programmer will learn more and be exposed to Object Orientated Design decisions such as constructor overloading gently rather than being left for dead in Javadocs.


What, you think a beginning programmer shouldn't learn the bloody classes they're using? Of course you spend time reading the javadoc - that's what it's for! You learn it, so you know what you're doing before you type it in. If you're typing

Foo foo = new Foo(


and you don't know what comes next, this is exactly what I mean by an IDE allowing you to go ahead without knowing what you're doing. And this is a disaster - you're really making my case for me!
Simply put: you should know the classes you're using. If you don't you find the javadoc and you learn something before you start using them. An editor that allows you to skip this step allows you to proceed without understanding, and that means you're going to get further and further behind the more you work. This is a bad thing, not least because it leads to the "I've been coding in java for a year now and I don't feel like I know what I'm doing" posts that we see here all the time.
Of course you feel like you don't know what you're doing - that's because you don't!


Quote

For these reasons I personally wouldn't recommend using a text editor at first and I certainly wouldn't be pushing the use of vi or emacs if you haven't used either of them as there are a lot of commands to remember and it's just not practical to be fighting with your tools while you're still learning the craft.


I don't have a lot of faith in someone's ability to work with complex systems if they can't get up and running in vi in a few hours, frankly. Think of it as a low bar to step over. If they learn it and prefer not to use it, that's another thing, but you're learning a handful of keystrokes to get yourself editing text. If you can't manage that, you might as well hang it up and go home.
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#15 mostyfriedman  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I Start With Java?

Posted 06 November 2012 - 08:22 AM

View PostGraxun, on 06 November 2012 - 06:41 AM, said:

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 05 November 2012 - 08:39 PM, said:

What is your background? Are you a student, hobbyist or professional? Java is a popular instructional language in high school and college curricula. It is also a popular language in the professional world, with Android and Java EE applications. If you are starting out, focus on the basics of Java SE. We have some good resource threads to help you get started on finding an IDE and picking a good book. I also have a thread that outlines a sequence for learning, with suggested tutorials. Hope this helps some!


I'm currently in 10th grade, and my Guidance Consular said I should start looking at colleges that offer what i'm interested in, and i'm extremely interested in Computer Science / Computer Programming, it would also be great if someone could help me guide me in the right direction for that too.

Skype: Graxun


Its good that you're starting somewhat early. Please don't put all your focus on programming though, know your mathematics and logic well.
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