Hi everyone! First of all I want to say what a nice community JavaRanch is. The colors, the boards, the people, the ambiance creates a comfortable and homey feeling. Congratulations!
The reason I'm posting is I want to ask you guys what are your tips and suggestions for newbies to learn Java the best and fastest way. What has experience taught you when you were learning Java? Help us learn from your experiences How do we master and love the language fully? How can we be better programmers? Help us newbs
Any reply would be greatly appreicated! Thanks in advance
Small is beautiful! Write 10-line applications, get them to run, and see what happens. Lots of practice with coding. When you enhance your applications and make them bigger, run them every 5 minutes; that way you can probably catch mistakes sooner.
if so you might want to pick up text book or go through a detailed tutorial and at least go up through Object Oriented Programming and take your time. Learning basic programming and Object Oriented concepts (encapsulation, inheritance, etc) is the foundation to pretty much every type of programming language you will ever learn, so taking the time with it if you've never done it before is pretty important.
if you have done programming before and feel comfortable w/OOP, then I'd probably take the most complex program you have written before and rewrite it in java, and try and take full advantage of stuff that is already there for you (like the Math/String/Data Structs/Generics) and get used to using that a little bit, and from there explore some online APIs (Google has something called google web tools compiler, which can turn java code into web apps, but one step at a time).
as far as tools go, Eclipse is probably most popular, and Netbeans is second. Both of them are pretty good programs. There are others too like JBuilder. Or if you want to go old school, you can just download JDK/JRE, write your code on simple text editor and compile at the command line.
Find a book which teaches object-orientation. I like Deitel and Deitel; the 6th edition should be available second-hand for a reasonable price. Don't use the 5th or earlier editions. Lots of people dislike the Deitel style, however. Lots of people like Head First Java by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates. Make suer to get the 2nd edition. Again (sorry, Kathy and Bert) it should be easy to find a second-hand copy.
Before buying a Deitel book, visit their website and look here (for example), and go to the left where it says "tutorial". That will allow you to read a section of the book, so you can see whether you like their style. The Deitel books have dozens of exercises at the end of every chapter.
Look through JavaRanch for the "cattle drive." Find websites like Project Euler (mathematical, can be very difficult) or Javabat (short methods to work out, look easy but they aren't), and they have exercises on.