Following my Java Masterclass series in APC

nbFor the last few months, I’ve been doing a ‘Learn to Code Java’ masterclass series in APC magazine – and it looks like a few new readers have been joining of late, given the emails.

The series will eventually hit the APC website, but you’ll be a few issues behind – so grab the latest issue of APC to get the latest!

If you want to get started, all you need is a computer and some free software – the Java Development Kit v8 (JDK8) and the NetBeans integrated development environment (IDE).

[EDIT: Silly goose!┬áIt might help if I include links to the software… Now added above. You just need the ‘SE’ (Standard Edition) version of the JDK – choose a version to suit your PC.]

Java and NetBeans works on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, so you should be fine. I haven’t tried OpenJDK on Linux but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work – the series assumes no previous coding experience, so it’ll be a little while before I imagine hitting anything that might cause issues for OpenJDK.

The key thing with installation here is install the JDK8 first, then install NetBeans. Do it that way and NetBeans will find the JDK automatically. Do it the other way around and you have to tell NetBeans where you’ve installed JDK8 and it all just gets messy.

Java is a really cool language to learn because it is cross-platform – not just on PC, but also runs a billion apps on a billion Android devices. I do think it’s a better learning language than C++, but I’m not saying Java is better than C++, so don’t read that into it. The good thing is there’s really not that much different between the two – learn Java and you’re most of the way there to learning C++ too.

I’ve chosen NetBeans as the IDE for the series start because it’s just a little less complex than Eclipse, although I use Eclipse myself as my main IDE. However, for first-time coders, it can be a bit big and hairy, so I’ve chosen NetBeans instead.

Just one note – yes, I’ll be looking at how to write Android apps eventually, but there’s not much point doing that unless you know how Java works, so I’m taking the ‘crawl before you can sprint’ path.

There is no doubt that coding will be a must-have skill shortly – whether it’s Java or MySQL or something else. The days of just using computers is fast coming to an end and to score a job in the future, you’ll need to know how to code them. But it’s actually a good skill that helps you in lots of other areas – as Steve Jobs once said, everyone should learn how to code, because it teaches you how to think. And as I say, it also teaches you how to troubleshoot and logically find your way through problems, which I think is even more valuable – particularly when you’re coding! :)

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