Java is one of the most popular, widely-used, and beginner-friendly languages out there. But what if in practice, you'll find it difficult to master? You might, if you don’t have a learning strategy.
It's normal to have doubts when tackling something unfamiliar. One thing for sure, you'll find it difficult to learn a new language if you go in unprepared.
So, is Java hard to learn? How should you approach it to make learning easy and effective? Let's find out.
Is Java Difficult to Learn?
That depends. If you have no prior experience in programming, any language may be hard at first, before you learn the basics. You may find Java a bit harder than Python because it has a more complex syntax. But it is a lot easier to learn than C++ because you don't have to be involved in the garbage collection process. And at the same time, they all have different uses, so you can't base your choice on simplicity alone.
It's still beginner-friendly and relatively easy to learn. As long as you have the motivation to learn, there are many reasons why you should learn Java:
- Versatility. You can develop cross-platform apps, making yourself a more versatile specialist, than someone who can only code for, say, iOS.
- Community. Java withstood the test of time and now has a wide community of developers that can help you handle tasks of different complexity levels.
- Resources. You can find a multitude of libraries that support different types of projects
- Demand. Many companies need Java developers, so it'll be easier for you to find a job than if you were to learn something more niche.
Source: “Why You Should Learn Java in 2022”.
Now, with motivation and a few valid reasons in hand, you also need a good learning strategy to make the process least difficult.
How to Build an Effective Self-Study Strategy
An effective study plan is one that suits your goals, considers your knowledge of programming, and prepares you for starting a job as soon as possible. Afterall, being a good software developer means you will be studying for the rest of your career because technologies change and evolve all the time. But you still need some basic knowledge to start.
And it’s good to test your basic knowledge with a “Hello, World!” program. It’s a tradition to start learning a language by writing this simple code in it. That is because, while the code is simple, it works well to introduce you to the syntax and some of the basic concepts of the language at hand.
Accessing your understanding of the code can highlight what to focus on in your learning. And with that in mind, you can map out a learning plan, but be sure to include:
- Fundamentals. Without a solid foundation, you won’t be able to progress. Start with the basics, like its syntax or what paradigms Java supports, and work your way up to more complex theory, like how garbage collection works.
- OOP. Java is based on object-oriented programming, so learning about this concept will give you a deeper understanding of how Java code works and behaves.
- Practice. While theory is essential, you can only develop skill by practicing what you have learned. So make sure to add a lot of practical tasks to your plan.
- Experimentation. Following instructions and solving simple problems is good, but programming is quite creative, so allocate the time in your plan for trying different methods of solving simple tasks.
Where Can You Learn Java?
Self-teaching doesn’t mean you have to develop a learning methodology all on your own. Quite the opposite, involving ready-made resources and materials will help you learn more effectively and improve quicker. Especially those that involve the ideal 80% practice to 20% theory ratio.
So, let’s go over some of the top resources.
A bootcamp is a short course with an intense training program that intends to mimic real-life coding projects. Essentially, you’ll be able to get a feel of how developers work and prepare for the reality – a good practice at any point of your studies before going to interviews.
Try some of these, whenever you’re ready:
- Tech Elevator – it offers two online and two offline boot camps that last for three months.
- CodingNomads – it offers a self-paced program and a mentorship program; get the second program for the real boot camp feel.
Online courses provide the structure that is often hard to achieve when creating your own study plan. But the best courses are ones that facilitate practical application of knowledge. Like these two:
- CodeGym – a learning platform fully dedicated to mastering Java that helps you advance from the basics to more advanced concepts through some theory and a lot of practice. In fact, there are more than 1200 practical tasks and solving them earns you points that unlock higher levels. Like a fun game that also provides you with skills.
- Udacity – a learning platform to give you a start in different IT careers, including Java Developer. Each course lasts for 4 month and consists of a few modules with a practical project at the end of each.
Tutorials help acquire theoretical knowledge that is essential for practice. You can find Java tutorials here:
- Oracle – documentation right from the Java developer.
- TutsPlus – a collection of articles from the community.
A way of learning is through the shared experience of the industry experts. You can read up on Java here:
- Softwarehow – a collection of unbiased reviews from professional software users.
- Developer.com – a blog that provides technology research and review.
There are many YouTube channels dedicated to teaching Java developers through basic knowledge and personal experience, such as:
- Derek Banas – a developer and entrepreneur who has quite a few tutorials dedicated to Java, but he also talks about other languages and software development as a business.
- ProgrammingKnowledge – here you’ll find over 100 different tutorials about Java for beginners and experienced coders.
Don't Shy Away from Help
Another step in learning that makes the process easier is talking to the community. You can ask questions and collaborate with other coders on websites, such as:
Java is and will be a very popular programming language that has been proven through decades, meaning it’s relevant. But is it easy to learn? Well, it can be if you develop a good self-study plan.
Create a learning schedule that involves 20% of theory from blogs and tutorials and 80% of practical tasks. Throw some motivation and dedication to improve into the mix, and Java won’t be hard to learn at all.