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Real Beginner

Mark Covert
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 19, 2001
Posts: 22
Hi,
I'm new to programming and to IT in general. I don't have a technical background. Java is my first programming language. I started reading books and taking courses this past summer and I'm still lost.
I was wondering if someone could give me a few tips on how to best get started as a Java programmer. I'm mostly concerned with really learning the language and becoming productive in it.
Mark
Grant Crofton
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 08, 2000
Posts: 154
What sort of courses did you do?
IMO, getting someone to teach you is by far the best way, much easier than learning from tutorials or books. If you have someone there to show you what's going on, you don't end up sitting there for three hours going mad trying to work out what's wrong when you've put a dot in the wrong place or similar.
I'm not sure what sort of course is best, as I learnt at Uni, but there's bound to be something around.
Angela Poynton
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 02, 2000
Posts: 3143
I think the basic rule is don't try to learn everything at once. I know people who have been coding java for the past 3 years and still they claim to not know about half of what the language is capable of. I was lucky; just over a year aho i was in exactly the same position as you are in now. I was given the opportunity to start working for a company that was prepared to take me on knowing nothing and train me. i still consider myself a beginner though.
To get to grips with the basics let me recommend studying these things, one at a time.
OO concepts ... once you get your head round this it all becomes much clearer.
Java fundamentals. - Get a good book, eg Thinking in Java go through the chapters one by one making sure you understand the concepts before moving on. Write as many programs as you can ... nothing can teach you more than this!
Keep visiting Javaranch, you'd be amazed how much you learn just by reading other people's posts .. and when you have a question post it and we'll see if we can help!
Most of all be patient. Java is a HUGE language and for someone completely new to programming it can be really difficult to get your head around. But you'll find one day you can sit and write a program without even thinking about looking at a book for a reference ... that day will come sooner than you think and it's fantastic!


Pounding at a thick stone wall won't move it, sometimes, you need to step back to see the way around.
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
And I'd just like to add to Angela's comments that you should never be disappointed or scared to look something up or write a quick program to check something. We all do it, and it's the mark of a mature developer - not to know everything, but to know how much you know.


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
Mark Covert
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 19, 2001
Posts: 22
Thanks for the quick responses. I feel a bit better now.
The courses that I have taken were all from Sun. I had some course in OO-design (I don't recall which one.) the SL 110, the SL275 and the SL310 (I think.). The SL310 went almost completely over my head. I've done a little with HTML, but not enough.
I work for an IT company, but being in Germany it is not always easy to get help from co-workers. The information flow is just not what it would be in England or the States. I'm not sure why, but thats another story anyway. I've been looking for a guru-mentor for some time now within the company, but no luck so far. It looks like I'll have to do it on my own.
I have got an idea about program that I'd like to write. Its pretty complex for me, but I think I'll give it a try. You can bet that you'll be hearing from me again before too long.
Mark
Angela Poynton
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 02, 2000
Posts: 3143
Hey Mark why don't you give the Cattle Drive here at Javaranch a go .. getting your assignments nitpicked might be really helpful!!
Allen Alchian
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 11, 2000
Posts: 83
I just want to "piggy-back" on Angela's suggestion. The JavaRanch Cattle Drive sounds to me like it is just what you need at the moment. I started out learning Java on my own last September with the typical "Teach Yourself..." books. Certainly those are useful, but there's nothing like having someone look over your shoulder to give constructive criticism. I didn' have that until I stumbled into the JavaRanch one day and took a ride with the Cattle Drive. It made a big difference for me. I highly encourage you try it, but look out for all the dust and dirt (not to mention the "nit-pics")!


Allen
ryan burgdorfer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 24, 2001
Posts: 219
Mark,
Check out this site: http://math.hws.edu/javanotes/index.html
This is the best tutorial I have ever seen for absolute beginners, especially those who are new to both OOP (Object-Oriented Programming) and JAVA. It teaches OOP using JAVA. Very easy to understand, it will give you a solid foundation upon which to build from.
~Ryan


<UL TYPE=SQUARE><I><LI>Ryan Burgdorfer<BR><LI>Java Acolyte</I></UL>
Elisabeth Van
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 09, 2001
Posts: 42
Mark,
I think you'll find it'll help a lot to work on the program that you said you wanted to try. I've found it helps me a whole lot to try to write a program that has some meaning to me as opposed to an exercise that doesn't have much relevance.
Yeah, there will probably be things that you find you're not sure how to do, but that's where great sites like this come in handy...most likely someone has already tackled a problem that you're working on and is willing to give advice, or will at least be able to give you ideas on how to get started.
And, of course, do the Cattle Drive. I've taken the Sun SL-275 class as well, and it was great, but I didn't get feedback on whether I was programming correctly or not. Seemed like if it worked, you did ok. The nitpickers on the Cattle Drive set a higher standard--you learn not only to make your program work, but also to make it work efficiently.
Good Luck!
Mark Covert
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 19, 2001
Posts: 22
Hi all,
First let me say, "Thanks." for all of the feedback. With regard to the cattle drive: It looks like I'll have to get the book before I can participate. That will take a while.
I do intend to work on my little project idea further, but that will take some time as well. (It's a bit complex.)
In the meantime I'll have a look at the tutorial and see what else I can do.
Mark
Paul Bull
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 14, 2001
Posts: 37
Hey Mark,
I'm a beginning programmer like yourself and am relatively new to IT. Java is my first language. I've been taking courses but often find the way instructors cover concepts confusing. One thing that has helped me tremendously is programming partners.(two heads is better than one idea) I work together with other beginners in the same classes on the same projects. It's amazing how many mistakes you can pick out when you take a break from coding and observe while someone else is coding. Also, a book I really like is Beginning Java 2 by Ivor Horton(Wrox publishing). Lots of code examples and step by step guidance. Also, "Thinking in Java" which Angela mentioned is a great book too.
ryan burgdorfer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 24, 2001
Posts: 219
Mark,
The book mentioned at the Cattle Drive is available online as a free download...goto http://www.bruceeckel.com
to get it...
(Although in my opinion, that book is way too deep for beginners...I would go with a tutorial online <like the one I mentioned above...> then start doing the assignments.)
Mark Covert
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 19, 2001
Posts: 22
Paul: Yeah I think two heads are better than one as well. I'm having a bit of trouble finding the other person though. It's got a lot to do with the environment where I work, but let's not go into that. I don't want to bore you. I'm not to the point yet where I feel like I understand enough to write code. Sure I can do . . .
public static void main (String [] args){
}
*See, just had to edit this!
. . ., but to be honest I still have to look it up to be sure its right. I do have big plans though. Right now its time to start putting them into action. Thanks for your input.
Ryan: Thanks! I didn't know about the book being available on - line. I must have missed that. I like deep subjects. Otherwise I probably wouldn't even be trying this! I'll give it a shot and work on the tutorial. If it gets too tough I'll try something easier.
[This message has been edited by Mark Covert (edited February 22, 2001).]
 
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subject: Real Beginner