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A Real Beginner

Derek True
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 07, 2000
Posts: 10
Hello,
I'm new to programing and am attempting to learn JAVA. I've been using a book by K.N.King. "Java programing: From the beginning" is an excellent book that concentrates on the fundamentals of the language. That being said I also have to say that I'm spending a lot of my time feeling overwhelmed. I know that the curve is steep for one who dosen't have some kind of programing experence and that it will eventually get easier. But to hear from some other beginners going through the same thing might raise my spirits a little. Feel free to weigh in if you are a current or former beginner.
Derek
Anonymous
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 22, 2008
Posts: 18944
I remember wading through the opening chapters of my first java book and thinking, "Does this lady know that she doesn't make any sense?" I recently reread portions of that book and thought to myself, "This is a really well written treatment of java!" I guess it gets easier to understand, but in my case, it took a while for the concepts to penetrate my thick head!
[This message has been edited by Bodie Minster (edited November 27, 2000).]
Peter Lyons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 12, 2000
Posts: 202
I would strongly recommend that you enroll in a Java course at a decent school. I just took my first programming job in July after 5 months of evening and weekend classes. That would never have happened if it was just me and a book.
The other benefit is that when you're done, you can say more than "I know some Java." You can say "I've studied Java for __ months at ____ school." When you're just getting in, that can make a difference.
That's not just my own idea. That's how I was advised when I contacted a technical recruiter a year ago and asked a similar question to the one you're asking.
Good luck!
Allen Alchian
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 11, 2000
Posts: 83
My programming experience in procedural languages, not OOP. In September I decided to "teach myself" Java. Since then I've urchased six different Java books (and use them all). I'm making progress but have pretty much concluded that I'm still going to take a class in Java programming starting in January. The big problem with trying to use books alone is that you really can't get feedback on your programming skills. Some books have exercises and provide the solutions...those are helpful, but not enough for me.
Enter JavaRanch Cattle Drive.
The Cattle Drive provides a great way to get feedback on programming for the very beginning Java programmer. Unfortunately it doesn't get into the depths of the language. Maybe some day it will. In the meantime, the forums, like this one, allow me to pick up little bits and pieces of the language, and to test my knowledge of what I've learned so far.
Bottom line from my perspective: take a formal class if you're a beginner. You might learn some of the language from books alone, but there's nothing like the interaction with an instructor. Good luck!


Allen
Suprakash Das
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 26, 2000
Posts: 18
Hi Derek,
I know that overwhelming feeling.My first serious tryst with Java began only 3 months ago.Yesterday I wrote the SCJP exam and cleared it with 93%.Things definitely get better.You should join a good Java training program.It really helps when you're starting off...especially when you're new to OOP. Fortunately for me I was trained by the company i work for.
Get yourself a copy of 'Thinking in Java' by Bruce Eckel.I have read the book thrice so far and every time the picture gets a little clearer.
Feel free to post messages here about your problems.Somebody is bound to help you.I picked up a lot from this discussion forum.
Derek True
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 07, 2000
Posts: 10
Well Thank you all for the encouraging words. I've been toying with the idea of taking a class but have some problems with the "classes" offered by most tech firms. Can anyone recommend a reputable class or firm, hopefully located in the New York City area?
Better yet can anyone tell me what to look for in a potential firm?
And for at least the next few months the course is not possible so has anyone here learned JAVA from scratch on there own? I'm considering trying to get the basics down and then taking classes for some more advanced topics. Is this feasiable or based on my lack of programing expereince would the reverse be better?
Finally, at the bookstore today a found a book that is an intro to programing. It teaches Qbasic. Someone mentioned a while back that maybe it would help to learn an "easier" language and work up from there. While QBasic might not be where I need to start maybe Smalltalk or some other flavor of OOP would be easier than JAVA right off the bat. It seems like a lot of unnessary work to me, but I was wondering how those of you who have been down this road feel about the suggestion. Either way thanks for the encouragment all the same.

Derek
[This message has been edited by Derek True (edited November 27, 2000).]
Siobhan Murphy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 19, 2000
Posts: 72
I think the only way to really learn is to write programs.
If you complete a project of substance, and you can show this to a potential employer, it will say more about your ability than anything else.

If you are enrolled in a class you will meet other people in the same boat as yourself. You will help and encourage one another. It is much more enjoyable than studying on your own, and it's good practice for the real world.
Kathy Rogers
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 04, 2000
Posts: 103
Hi Derek,
I started out learning C from scratch, basically from books with a little help from some friends a few years ago. I moved on to Java earlier this year and went on some training courses, my company's version of Sun's Java courses. And I think whatever language you learn first is difficult. I also found the courses very useful - I'd been playing about with Java for a few months when I took them - CBTs, books, a bit of coding - but it was good to have someone really clued up to answer questions, and other people to work with and deadlines to meet, specific things to achieve.
I'd be tempted to stick with Java. Not that I'm biased! I have to learn Smalltalk next year and I've not found the same kind of support / info out there on the net for the learner. It's easy to find test questions/ code examples/ people to ask questions of when you're learning Java and that's a big help.
And I agree with Siobhan - coding is absolutely the best way to learn , particularly writing code that doesn't work to begin with!
Good luck!
Kathy
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Actually I learned Java on my own with the help of the RHE book and Java in a Nutshell. I have 15 years coding experience - but in non OOPs languages (a BIG difference).
While I did get my SCJP2 in August I would NOT recommend it as the way to go. I was just frustrated cuz I was waitlisted for the classes that my company offered for over a year- so I just plowed ahead. I ended up taking the certification prep class and distributed java AFTER I passed the exam (the point being that you can pass the exam without actually being very good at programming in Java, and my desired end is to be good at it).
Actually I didn't discover this site either until after I passed the exam. Having this "mentoring" help sure would have made life easier. I guess I just do things backwards alot.


"JavaRanch, where the deer and the Certified play" - David O'Meara
Peter Lyons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 12, 2000
Posts: 202
Suprakash Das made mention of one particularly good book, "Thinking in Java." It's available for free download from www.bruceeckel.com. You can get it in HTML or PDF format.
Derek True
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 07, 2000
Posts: 10
Again, thank you all for the info. It seems as if classes are the way to go, however my circumstances will not permit this to happen for a while. In the meantime I will continue to write some very bad code
I think that having a reason to write the code,an objective will also help. The biggest problem i'm having is learning the terminology and getting to know it in the proper context. Trying to figure out why things must be the way they are for the compiler is what i'm striving to learn.
Like Mark Twain said "Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned"
Thanks again
Derek
John Wetherbie
Rancher

Joined: Apr 05, 2000
Posts: 1449
Derek,
I did learn Java, or at least enough Java to get by, on my own. It was not exactly from "scratch" though since I had been working in C++ for 7 years. My primary resources for this were Java in a Nutshell and Thinking in Java.
The way I really learned Java, though, was by writing code. I started out doing it at night at home and then got a job where I was writing Java full-time.
If you really want to take a class I'd check into local community colleges and universities. You'll probably learn more and it will cost less than a class from a training company. If this isn't possible try doing the exercises in Thinking in Java and participating in the Cattle Drive here at Java Ranch.
Keep pushing forward!
John


The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen all at once.
- Buckaroo Banzai
Angela Poynton
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 02, 2000
Posts: 3143
If you're looking for some small programs to write to get in some practice why not join the Cattle Drive here at Javaranch! If you send in your assignments you'll be given some helpful feedback too!!


Pounding at a thick stone wall won't move it, sometimes, you need to step back to see the way around.
Lori Battey
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 17, 2000
Posts: 37
I suggest that you stick with Java as well. I think if you attempt to learn another language and then transfer it over to Java you will just have to unlearn things and relearn them. It takes a while to get a grasp if you are working on your own with books and tutorials but it all begins coming together...time and effort are the keys!
Wishing you the best!


Lori Battey<br />SCJP2
pam coke
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 20, 2000
Posts: 6
Well if you are looking for something you can take at home, then I suggest a videotape class. I am currently taking one through Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, but NTU also offers the same course, so that may be something you can look into. I must warn you, you have to be committed to learn a programming language by video. I was not very committed due to things that have happen in my life this semester and I have fallen behind and have not learned very much, but for a committed person it should work. Good luck.
Derek True
Greenhorn

Joined: Nov 07, 2000
Posts: 10
I'm sorry to keep this thread going forever, but I must share what happened to me this morning.
After our discussion here I contacted a techinical training school not to far from my home and figured i'd at least meet them and see what they offered. The class that the offered was nothing more than a cd that they put into a workstation and had you work on in a room with 9 other people who are doing the same. When I expresed my suprise at there being no "instruction", the salesman told me that this is how most places are doing it due to a severe lack of programers. Is this true? Is this what I can expect from other such places? Do I need to limit myself to the courses that Sun gives? Most of you have been down this road before, what do you think?
Thanks Again
Derek

[This message has been edited by Derek True (edited December 01, 2000).]
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Well, I have the benefit of corporate education. They have experienced programmers teaching - but they teach right out of the Sun Education material.
The company also offers CBT classes - but after taking several of those I was SOOOOOO frustrated with the errors and poor test questions that I read the book instead.
 
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