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learning Java in general

Edwin Davidson

Joined: Nov 26, 2003
Posts: 27
I am unfortunately at present employed with the infrastructure support group in the organization I am with. My background is development and production support and I wish to go back to that. And it's a good reason to learn/get certified in Java.
Now, if you are not presently working in Java 7-8 hours a day then one has to undertake studying Java to get certified. I will be doing this at home and not in a formal structure like a classroom, etc.
So with getting knowledge and Sun certified as my goals, I get a Java book like "Just Java 2" and download Java and start. Trouble I have found is that when you get down to say, chapter 11, I've forgotten what I did in chapter, say, 5. Then I get that "disconnected" feeling that I just hate.
On one hand you're not working in Java on a daily basis (and that makes a difference) and that's OK. But on the other hand you are learning Java, chapter by chapter as you go. And I've tried this before. You get so far down the line and then I 'sort of' lose what I have learned.
Also I seem to have a hard time coming up with things to develope too. It's like 'now that I've read chapter 7, how can I come up with something to use it on ?". Do any of you guys have THAT problem ?
So after all of my ranting and raving the two things I wish to ask you guys are:
1. What works (and what plain just doesn't work) when you trying to teach yourself Java from a 1000 page book ?
2. How to come up with ideas for developing/programming stuff from the last chapter that you did/read. I always get stuck on that.
Chris Harris
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 21, 2003
Posts: 231
Hi Edwin,
I became SCJP when I was a student, so I know what it is like to learn Java from a book.
Now that I work in Java seven days a week, I have found it much easier to get certified.
There are a number of good books on becoming SCJP that contain mock exams. I found that a nice way to practice the what I had read about. There are also lots of mock exams on the web (Including a game that can be found on the ranch + the SCJP forum).
If you provide a little more detail about the kind of things you want to practice, I will try to think of somethings (There a load of nice people on the SCJP who I am sure would also help). I could always send you some of my work tasks (Only joking!).

Vladas Razas
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 02, 2003
Posts: 385
I am learning Java from books too. Because if you don't have much experience, you have to be at least certified for the job. But you can't say which is better Some guys with everyday experience don't know subjects that they do not use in work, and if you are gonna be certified it's a good chance you will have a clue about anything that is included in exam.
About Sun Certified Java exam. After learning it you will still be clueless what to do with that language Because SCJP teaches you to write like only console apps They dont examine your knowledge of API library so you will be pretty lost even passed SCJP. Then you need some other exam on particular technology like: SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD.
About reading long books for certification... Repetition is a key! When I finished my first .NET certification book, I only scored like 30-40% on mock exam. But that mock exam gives you idea what you have missed or misunderstood. THen you come back and re-read. Maybe try your wild ideas on computer to see if it works. So to get certified you will probably will read that book twice. Some chapters you know well you will never reread, but chapters which you don't understand or remember you will read 3-5 times.
If you feel confident with mock exam I can guarantee you will pass certification. So just relax read further if you don't understand something return and re-read again.
Just a clue: if you get certified and you will not use it for 2-3 months. You will forget everything. So better learn technologies you are going to use.
My best regards!
I am pretty sure you will pass that cert. The first cert is the most scary!
Dirk Schreckmann

Joined: Dec 10, 2001
Posts: 7023
I know I've forgotten more than a few things that I used to know how to do. When I was first learning, just about everything was an Applet to me, and included some kind of GUI. Now, I've forgotten half of what I knew about Applets and probably more than half of the Swing and AWT components that I used to use daily.
But I find that I quickly recall, or relearn these forgotten things when I'm developing an application that uses them. After a little work, it seems like I'd never forgotten.
I find that it definitely helps to program as much as possible using the things that I'm learning about. If you're looking for program and/or project ideas, take a look at this list that I've posted a few times:
  • The JavaRanch Cattle Drive
  • Roedy Green's List of Student Java Projects
  • Projects associated with various chapters of Bradley Kjell's Introduction to Computer Science using Java - the project links are on the right side of the page
  • Projects associated with various chapters of David J. Eck's Introduction to Programming Using Java
  • The SCJD Development Team
  •'s Java Foundries
  • The Jakarta Project

  • [How To Ask Good Questions] [JavaRanch FAQ Wiki] [JavaRanch Radio]
    Igor Ko
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jun 24, 2002
    Posts: 90
    I studied Java by books as at work I wrote program in C++ 9 hours each day.
    But there aren't much problems. Java is more simple language than C++.
    I like to write a lot of tiny (20 strings) programs in learning
    time, at end you'll feel that what you learn really working.
    Good luck !
    Jeff Fisher

    Joined: Jun 14, 2002
    Posts: 18
    When I first began to learn Java I used Programming With Java by John R. Hubbard. This book is part of the Shaum's Outline Series, which are study aids for several different subjects, including math, science, business, and computer programming. These books give numerous solved examples, with the philosophy that you learn by DOING rather than just reading. I worked all the problems from each chapter, and this gave me a strong "feel" for the language. It also helped me to retain the information, so I didn't have the problem of forgetting information from earlier chapters as I went along.
    This book gives a solid foundation for the language, but certainly doesn't cover all you need to know. I used the Mughal and Rasmussen book ( A Programmer's Guide to Java Certification) to prepare for certification. This book would be difficult reading for someone completely unfamiliar with Java, but after I got such a good background from the Schaum's book it was not hard to go through Mughal and Rasmussen.
    Dirk Schreckmann

    Joined: Dec 10, 2001
    Posts: 7023
    I studied Java by books as at work I wrote program in C++ 9 hours each day.
    But there aren't much problems. Java is more simple language than C++.

    The Java language may be simpler than C++, but to say that there aren't many problems to practice and learn when programming is not something I'd agree with. There is an entire universe of problems to solve, and solving them has lead to volumes of information to learn and explore on program design, and patterns, and numerous theories. Just because you've learned the syntax of the language, doesn't mean you've learned all of the idioms or the applications of the language.
    David Crossett
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Feb 05, 2003
    Posts: 102
    I also am learning on my own, with a background as a Network Admin. I am learning from many books, and have had the same problems you mention. I actually put Java down for almost 6 month (talk about disconnected!). Usually, this has been my study habits that have led to certification (MCSE 4/2000, MCDBA 7/2000, MCP, MCSA, CCNA, A+/Net+, etc.):
    1. If I am REALLY lost on the subject, I will start with a 'whatever' For Dummies book, just to get an overall feel of what I'm dealing with (I've only done this 2 or 3 times.
    2. I then will move to (or usually start with) a 'whatever' in 21 Days book, to get a more in-depth handle on the subject and learn it relatively quickly. These books usually become a great resource for looking up something I remember doing, I know how to do, but just forgot how. I'll mark it up pretty good so I can go back and reference it when I forget something - even something as simple as how to use a StringTokenizer!
    3. I then move to the serious books, the ones usually reserved for classroom type study or college textbooks. I am using Deitel Java - How to Program, and I love it! I've found that the best way to keep the knowledge I have just learned is to actually do ALL the exercises at the back of the chapter. I usually can read and understand the chapter in about 45 minutes, while actually USING and IMPLEMENTING the technology will take me a few days of study. But then it becomes second nature.
    4. Then, lastly, if I'm trying to get certified, I'll finally go out and buy whatever 'certification' books are highly recommended. Certifying is usually VERY different than using the technology - I don't know how true that is with Sun's Java test, but Microsoft is notorious for that.
    Hope that helps! Bottom line is, there are plenty of 'student' projects and examples that you can follow to get some practice. Take these and work on them...then modify them to become more robust, more functional, whatever. Of course we will all agree that nothing will ever replace doing this everyday for 8 hours a day. I dream of the day that I can say that's what I do for a living. Until then, happy trails!

    David Crossett
    -nothing important to say, but learnin' plenty-
    I agree. Here's the link:
    subject: learning Java in general
    It's not a secret anymore!