The Best Way to Learn Java

Written By Tangy Frederick

Java is one of those languages that some may say is difficult to learn, while others think that it has the same learning curve as other languages. Both observations are correct.

However, Java has a considerable upper hand over most languages because of its platform-independent nature. Java, being a low-level language, lays the implementation of algorithms in a simple manner and lets you understand the basics; it is also simultaneously high-level enough to implement coding logically.

Depending on the mindset you take before you start to learn it, the best way to learn Java should follow certain steps: learn terminology, practice, practice, oh wait, and more practice. Repetition is key.

I would like to share some tips that helped me when I started learning Java and I hope that you will gather the same benefit from these tips.

Learn the Java Terminology

The best way to learn Java or any language is to start at a beginner’s level. “Hello World” is a good place to start — basically all programs use this idea to illustrate the central syntax of a programming language.

Before learning to code, a person learning Java needs to understand certain terminology in this syntax: class, object, inheritance, polymorphism, abstraction, and encapsulation. A great book to look into to learn some of these aspects is Head First Java.

Use different references to understand the terminology because even though individual references might have the same definition, the explanations aren’t absolute and limited. Google has different websites that will explain the same word in different ways.

The first time you read a definition, it may feel like you are learning a language from a different planet, but the point is to become familiar with the terminology, not to master it yet.

For instance, a class is a user-defined design or sample from which items are formed. It represents the set of processes or properties that are universal to all objects of one type.

Object is a vital unit of object-oriented programming and embodies the valid entities.

An archetypal Java program produces many objects, which work together by invoking methods.

Understanding these terminologies will help you realize the components of your code and the reason behind the final structure and the formation of the code. This strong foundation and comprehension of Java will make you capable of writing the codes and enable you to thoroughly unfold the underlying meaning of any program in the language.

Practice Simple Java Programs

If terminology is the first step in the best way to learn Java, then the second step involves finding a simple program online to practice your new language skills. The newly gained foundation will be put to the test and perfected only via the execution of the new acquired knowledge.

Let’s take three-by-three tic-tac-toe for an example; this is a simple program which doesn’t need many of the advanced programming skills — it is an apt program for the absolute beginners. This is a program efficient for practice because the programmer already knows the outcome.

The first thing to do is to write down each of the steps to the program, which, for instance, may start with the user inputting an X in middle grid and the computer automatically outputs an 0 in the top right, top left, bottom right, or left grid. The user makes another move, and the computer makes a valid second move, which doesn’t repeat the first move and is unique. This method of designing the input and output steps will continue into completion.

After fully going through the input and output steps, the programmer needs to look at the code. A new programmer might not be able to know all the code at first glance. It may take a while, so freaking out at the inability to understand your own creation certainly won’t help!

That tip is the major “don’t” in learning Java — DON’T FREAK OUT!

It is a good idea to scribble down the whole program by hand on a notebook with a pencil to tackle such a scenario. Repeat this process again, and during the second time, define each code line of the program. If the syntax gives you a tough time, you can always Google it for an explanation.

Lastly the learner needs to use an integrated development environment (IDE), a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development, to type the program after writing it by hand three times and explaining it out loud in his or her own words.

Ignore the Negativity

There are countless programming languages, some of them are obsolete, and everyone has their favorite. Some see Java as an old language and not as trendy as other like Ruby. So, there’s no denying that you will have face some heat when you make your mind up to learn Java.

You will surely be told that so-and-so programming languages are better; disregard such claims right away and maintain an attitude of mastering as many programming languages as possible, not just Java.

I came to the conclusion that everyone learns in different ways. For example I am a tactile learner. So if a critic told me that the only way to learn Java was to sit and listen to audio, I would more than likely not be successful at learning Java.

I would encourage you to cover all bases when it comes to learning Java: kinesthetic (learning by carrying out physical activities), linguistic (learning by speaking), auditory (learning by listening), and visual (learning by seeing).

Usually the best way to learn how to program is to cover all of these learning styles if you can. But if you find that one works better for you, stick with that one.

Keep Practicing, and You’ll Be Successful with Java

Learning programming languages takes repetition, just like anything else. Someone learning Java will want to become deeply involved and absorbed in the language until eventually they start to understand things. Accomplished programmers watch hours and hours of videos on coding before they actually set on writing the codes.

It’s also important to remember to enjoy the journey as a programmer. And to be patient with yourself.

You have to remember that you may not understand everything the first time around and that’s all right. It’s also important to figure out the best way you learn. Some people may learn Java best while building an Android app,some may like developing a game using JMonkeyEngine, and others may be OK with building a web page.

I personally found it easier to learn Java while I was building a mobile app using Java, because I was able to see how my program worked with the front-end .

The key is to be patient and understand that everyone learns differently. The best way to learn Java entails proficiency in theoretical knowledge as well as practical. Success lies in the amount of time invested to exercise the programming language, to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes.

May the coding Force be with you … happy coding.