The world of programming is an incredibly fast-paced and ever-evolving environment. Both the Java ecosystem and the Java community are growing and developing increasingly.
This is also true about the ways to learn Java for beginners. New tools, courses, and materials on Java programming are released every year while existing ones get improved and updated. This is great, except that this huge diversity often adds headache to the end-users of these products — people trying to learn Java coding skills from scratch.
So I decided now is a good time to make a fresh and up-to-date overview of the best platforms for learning Java. And, not to make this piece just another boring list, I’ll also be sharing tips on how to make the process of learning Java from scratch as effective and fast as possible.
All of this is first-hand knowledge and working tools. And what you need on your end to succeed is consistency in your learning and probably some sort of determination not to give up.
How to make the Java learning process effective?
Here are some recommendations that should help you along this journey.
1. Create a learning plan and code consistently
I’m beginning with the most basic recommendations, but you definitely shouldn’t underestimate their importance. These are fundamentals lying at the core of the learning process. It may sound like a cliche, but it’s much more effective to approach the whole process of learning Java as a journey rather than a destination. Create this kind of attitude, stick to it, and it will pay off.
On a more practical note, you should definitely have a learning plan. By saying ‘learning plan’, I mean consistently planning and organizing your learning process. Begin with listing down your goals — what you want to achieve at the end of the course. When this is done, you can choose a course that aligns with your objectives, as well as your pace of learning and other individual preferences.
2. Don’t just write code; read it as well
One of the fundamental recommendations to beginners that all Java experts would probably agree on is to practice as much as possible. I would go further and advise you not just to write code on a regular basis but to read it as well.
Make reading code on GitHub or StackOverflow your habit. While reading, always try to understand the code. In some cases, reading someone else’s code would inspire you to find your way to solve the problem, different from the one used in the current code. When inspiration strikes you, it is always good to write some code of your own, trying to improve a part of the program. Share your code with the community; this is a great way to receive extra motivation and contribute to your future coding portfolio while still in the process of learning.
3. Learn how to deal with being stuck in the right way
One of the most common problems that developers of any level, from total beginners to experienced senior coders, face in our lives all the time is having to deal with issues and getting stuck in the process. If you don’t know how to deal with this problem, it will make it much more difficult for you to progress, as finding solutions to problems is what developers do.
How to solve a coding problem?
So let me give you an approach, a battle strategy if you will, to slaughter those coding problems left and right.
1. First, you need to understand the condition.
1.1. If you read it a few times and still don’t understand it, go to step 2.
1.2. If you get the condition, do not rush to coding immediately. Build an approximate algorithm of the solution. Use different tools and resources:
- Read the documentation
- Move away and try again later
1.2.1. Has an algorithm appeared?
1.2.2. If not, go to step 2.
1.2.3. If yes, start to code.
1.4 Still not working? Analyze the algorithm. Try to change it.
1.4.1 If you don’t know what to do, after all, it’s time to go to step 2.
1.4.2 If you know what to do, well, just do it.
2. Ask for help. Use developer communities and forums such as StackOverflow, Reddit, CodeGym’s forum, GitHub.
2.1. If you’ve got help, return to the point where you left the problem. If you haven’t got help, leave this task for now and try to solve another problem.
4. Work one-on-one with other developers any way you can
Another valuable aspect beginners often tend to overlook is that programming is all about collaboration. So you should seek chances to work with other developers as much as possible. Collaboration with experienced developers is the way to get knowledge and motivation from them. The feedback you are receiving from them can be truly priceless and contribute to your growth a lot.
Connect with experienced developers in online communities and forums, Reddit channels.
Specialized programming channels:
- r/java, r/javahelp
General software development channels:
- Hashtag Developers
- European Dev Explorer
- DevOps Chat
5. Never stop learning
Successful professional programmers never stop learning. Coding is about learning something new all the time, so I recommend you adopt this kind of attitude right from the start and teach yourself to keep learning new skills in programming while you’re still a beginner and further down the road.
Top 5 Platforms to learn Java
Now let’s get to the overview of Java learning platforms. Here are my personal top five choices for beginners who want to learn Java and practical Java coding skills with the most efficiency.
Price: Free version available, $50 per month for paid subscription.
- Practice-focused. The course is focused on learning by solving practical coding tasks.
- Complete Java knowledge. Covers the basics of Java and advanced topics.
- Mobile app. The user-friendly mobile app allows you to learn anywhere at any time.
- Virtual mentor. Supports students in their journey with virtual mentorship.
- User community. Large, active, and supportive user community to ask for help when you’re stuck.
- Nice course structure. Well-structured course curriculum, divided by the areas of Java knowledge in an easy-to-follow order.
- Lots of tasks. Over 1200 practical tasks, as well as hundreds of engaging lectures on Java theory.
- Instant task solution evaluation. Students get the tasks checked and graded instantly.
- Small-sized lectures. Lectures are short, which allows students to study in small intervals.
- Good for both Java beginners and advanced learners. The course has a wide selection of content to satisfy both beginners and experienced Java coders.
- Java basics part of the course is free. The initial Java syntax part of the course is totally free.
CodeGym is an interactive practice-oriented Java programming course. The course will be valuable for absolute beginners as well as software developers who want to expand their skills. One of CodeGym’s distinctive features is using multiple compelling teaching techniques, such as gamification, visualization, and storytelling, to make learning more effective and fun.
The Complete Java Masterclass
- Up-to-date course (updates and improvements). The instructor actually takes time to work on improvements based on feedback from students, so the course is regularly updated.
- Consistent course structure. The instructor has a tendency to review the material from previous lectures before starting a new one.
- Not limited to Java. Besides Java, you will also learn about the tools and practices used by developers to increase productivity throughout the course.
- Extensive learning material. More than 80 hours of content in total.
- Practical tasks. 52 coding exercises.
- Theory-practice balance. You get to solve programming challenges after every topic.
- Certification. A certificate of completion is issued for all the course graduates.
- Platform-independent. The course can be accessed on mobiles and smart TVs.
Java Programming Masterclass for Software Developers is one of the most complete, in-depth Java programming courses online. With over 480,000 students enrolled, these comprehensive Java tutorials cover everything you need in order to learn how to code in Java.
Java Programming for Complete Beginners in 250 steps
- Well-balanced course structure. This course has very clear explanations and a good structure with a theory-practice balance.
- Doesn’t require much time. The course is just around 30 hours long and consists of on-demand video lectures mostly.
- Attention to the basics of Java. Really good for total beginners as the basics of Java get a lot of attention.
- Certification. A certificate of completion is issued for all the course graduates.
- FAQs and troubleshooting. Have troubleshooting guides with 200+ FAQs answered?
This course takes a hands-on approach using a combination of JShell and Eclipse as an IDE to illustrate more than 200 Java coding exercises, puzzles, and code examples. In more than 250 Steps, it explores the most important Java programming language features.
Java Fundamentals by Pluralsight
- $29 for the monthly subscription, $299 for the annual subscription, $449 for a premium annual subscription.
- Team and enterprise packages are available as well.
- A good introduction to basic concepts. The course provides a grounded introduction to the basic concepts of Java programming.
- Enough practice. Tasks in the course are practice-driven.
- Not too much theory. The course includes a short number of lectures that are easy to complete in a few days.
- Interactive content. Interactive videos and quizzes help to make the learning process more engaging.
- Short and concise course. It takes less time to complete compared to other courses on the list.
- Real examples. All concepts feature real-world examples.
- Syntax and designed patterns. Covers all Java syntax as well as design patterns.
This course provides complete coverage of the Java programming language and serves as a strong foundation for all Java-based development environments, including client-based, server-side, and Android.
Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals by Duke University
- Project-focused. This course is centered around projects, so you’ll be able to get some projects for your coding portfolio.
- Assignments with peer feedback. Everyone taking this course will be getting graded assignments with peer feedback.
- Certificate. There is an option to get a certificate which you can share on your LinkedIn page.
- Focus on basic coding skills. This course is designed to teach you basic foundational skills, which software developers need to solve real-world problems.
- Algorithms, testing, and debugging. Topics and skills such as algorithms, design patterns, testing, and debugging are also a part of the course.
- 5 sub-courses. The program is subdivided into 5 courses covering different aspects of Java.
- Big practical project. This course also includes a Capstone Project at the end to help you practically apply everything learned throughout the program.
Designed for beginners, this course will teach you core Java programming concepts and equip you to write programs to solve complex problems. In addition, you will gain the foundational skills a software engineer needs to solve real-world problems, from designing algorithms to testing and debugging your programs.
So, in my opinion, these five courses are the best Java learning sources for beginners today, in 2021. And recommendations I gave in this article are some of the keystones to success in this process. I hope this information will be helpful.
Previously published on Medium’s subdomain.
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