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Brand new to Java and OO - Help!

Mark Howard
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 14, 2001
Posts: 285
I have been in the IT biz for 17 years now, but predominantly in the large application mainframe, MVS, CICS, DB2, etc, arena. I have decided to make a radical shift to the world of Java and OO, and am looking for advice on how best to go about it?
So far, I have grilled through Sams "Java 2 in 21 days" (not easy for an old codger like me) and have ordered "Complete Java 2 Certification Study Guide" as a way of working towards Sun's certification exam. Other than this I have downloaded SDK1.3 apps & documentation, and the TextPad editor to compose my "Hello World!" apps.
Any advice for me from you Java gurus out there?
Thanks a mil.
Steve Fahlbusch

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 602

Actually Mark you are in the right place.
Head off to the chicken coop, the cattle drive and the code barn.
That should be good for a beginning.
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Well Mark, you and I have a lot in common. As we speak I am supporting some Mainframe MVS/TSO systems, some Cobol DB2 and some FOCUS (don't ask..... GM used to love this language).
Lot's of our DB2 systems are converting to Java front-ends, and should I ever get unchained from the stuff I support now, I need to be techinically prepared to jump into the new paradigm.
You NEED to practice. Steve was right about the Cattle Drive - it is an excellant way to get hands on (just be prepared for nit-picking ).
You CAN pass the SCJP2 exam by just reading , the only problem is that it doesn't help you really get good at Java. What is the good of a certificate if you can't do the job well.
To tell you the truth I have learned more by reading the threads at JavaRanch than I learned from trying to memorize the RHE book (sorry Michael )
Best of luck in your studies, and I hope to see you around the Ranch.

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

Joined: Feb 14, 2001
Posts: 285
Hi Cindy, thanks for the reply.
I agree that learning from the book is no substitute for the real thing. Not even close. I tried the "round up" test on this site and am too embarrased to tell you my score.
For the last 8 years I have been using a CASE product called Cool:Gen which enables you to write very high-level code and generate it into various languages across different platforms. The next release will apparently allow Java to be generated as well. Great tool, but very expensive and generally limited to large organisations, and subsequently quite geographically restricting when looking for a new job. From a programmer point of view, however, it tends to hide you from the real work going on downstairs, which I guess is where I'm trying to get back to. Much more fun!
Shifting bits in a Java app using a TextPad editor was a bit of a shock to the system though! I've been advised to leave IDEs alone for now, and after trying out J++ (which has a learning curve of it's own), I was quite happy to return to the simplicity of the TextPad editor.
I have just registered with Javaranch and am looking forward to perusing the discussion threads posted here by yourself and others.
Good luck too.
PS. How do you get those smiley faces going on your message?
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
To tell you the truth, I still use notepad or wordpad. The theory being that the closer I am to the code, the better that I will understand it.
When you are writing a post, there is a little link to the left of the TextArea that says Smilies Legend
Just use one of those combinations and you can have lots of fun!! Be carefull that you have spaces around the smilies, and also sometimes those combinations come up in actual code! In that case you need to add extra spaces to the code that you are trying to display - or - there is an option box under the TextArea that allows you to Disable the smilies for just that one message.
You will be relieved to know that AFTER you have passed the exam, in real life very few people have to use bit shifting. Mostly the folks in enbedded systems tinker with those - of course there are always those masochists that use them just for the fun of it.
Scott Pedigo

Joined: Feb 15, 2001
Posts: 15
I tried a number of editors and IDEs when I started with Java, and what irritated me, aside from the big learning curve with ones like JBuilder, is that some won't leave your code alone. High level OOD tools which generate the Java code based on XML or whatever are fine for experts on huge projects, but counterproductive when you're trying to learn Java. Some take it upon themselves to rewrite or reformat code you've written by hand. I also hate it when HTML editors do that... On the other hand, using the Notepad and command line is tedious.
I searched the Internet for Java tools, downloaded and tried several, and finally settled on Kawa, which got started as shareware from Tek-Tools and now has been sold to Allaire (who are merging with MacroMedia). It color highlights your code, but leaves it the way you wrote it. It lets you compile your code with a mouseclick using the Sun SDK which you already installed, jump from compiler error messages to the line in the source code, run your applet in an appletviewer with a mouseclick, and if you set it up right also lets you view Sun's source code for the standard Java classes as well as the Javadocs. I tried the Notepad route for about 3 days until the tedium drove me crazy and I started looking for a better way. Kawa was simple enough to use that I didn't have a problem with the learning curve. It mad me a LOT more productive. You can get a trial version of Kawa from
Mark Howard
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 14, 2001
Posts: 285
Thanks for the tip on Kawa, Scott.
I have been using a product called TextPad (downloaded from, , which has similar functionality to the Kawa product you described. It also colour-highlights your code and leaves it in it's original format, and has shortcut keys to compile and run your Java apps. I'm brand new to Java and there was zero learning curve to this product. Perhaps not as sophisticated as Kawa, but appears to be a free download from the TextPad site.
Still, I'll give Kawa a crack on your recommendation.
[This message has been edited by mark howard (edited February 16, 2001).]
I agree. Here's the link:
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