Hi All, i have been learning java for a month now,i am following Head First Java(kathy and Bert),which is a wonderful book. what i'd like to know from the ranchers is wheather to use an IDE or not. up until now i have been using the command promt to work out the book examples,(which is what the authors suggest for beginners). At what point do to switch over to an IDE( i just tried the Ecliple IDE which is so convenient, so tempting)
I did not use an IDE for years, until long after my SCJD assignment, which I did with vim. It doesn't have to be that long. If you plan to take SCJP you can use an IDE after you passed, and if not you can use one as soon as you pass SCJP mock exams. A couple of weeks or months.
I'm a professional programmer and I can't imagine doing my work without an IDE to manage my projects and files. Real-world commercial projects are simply not possible without good tools. I use Eclipse.
When to start looking at an IDE: If you have never worked with Java before it will take some time for you to learn the basics of writing a program and compiling it. It's best to focus on the basics of Java in the beginning; if you have to learn Java and also how your IDE works at the same time, it can become too much to learn at once.
So once you're comfortable with writing small programs and compiling them on the command line, then you could have a look at an IDE.
When you spend more time writing the same code again and again, than learning new things about the language it is time to switch to an IDE. A good example is the public static void main(String  args), when you start singing it in your mind before writing it, start learning how to use a good IDE. The tools you use and how you use them are very important abilities in any environment not just programming, and remember they are there to boost your productivity.
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