New Technology Series Announced-Beginners Java Programming TechTalk

Nolan Apostle – Talent, Producer and Contributing Editor
Event City Live, Event City TV & Event City Creative

PROGRAMMING In JAVA – How To’s

This week is the Java One Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It is of course not a Hospitality Expo about the Coffee industry, but more about the technology created by SUN Microsystems which is in many different applications and just about everywhere on the web. Oh yeah, and we’ll throw in a little bit of caffeine just for some kicks!

At Event City our Publishers, Editors, Managers, the “powers that be”, have decided to begin a series of articles and reports for all that is Technology, and how it spans into YOUR industry. Most importantly, how you can use Technology to help you become more fluent and increase your efficiency as a “non-technical” industry professional in one of the Events & Creative industries.

I will search the Java One Conference for tools and technologies that may be implemented with little knowledge of technology itself, or maybe with some assistance and guidance you will become more adept to move forward in your own processes of implementing Java to become a more savvy business person in your industry.

So in the theme of learning more about technology and how it can help all of us within the Events & Creative Industries, we bring you our first report in what we hope will be a long series of articles and information gathering from books, cds, dvd’s, conferences, tradeshows, exhibitions, etc.

What better way to start than with a “HOW TO” article about programming in Java. Read on to learn how it is done, and hopefully you will become as excited as I did when I learned about the potential of what I could do with a little effort and lots of Chutzpah- well at least from my standpoint, because I am not a nerd, or a programming guru or even a simple ‘basic’ programmer. This entire process is not for the faint at heart, but once you get going you will see the possibilities and realize it truly is not that difficult. In this crazy world of technology, I can certainly talk the talk, but when I try to walk the walk I slip and fall often. I wasn’t put on this earth to program, and neither were you (especially if you got this far in the article), so if you’re right there with me, pick yourself up and let’s begin some programming!

How do we begin PROGRAMMING In JAVA?

Specific Tools you will need to begin your programming process:

Your Computer, an Internet connection, some heavy duty Carbs, and of course – Caffeine! It is a prerequisite to stay up for 24-48 hours at a time when you are a programmer. Oh wait, you didn’t sign up for this– ok, just kidding, but keeping you on your toes will definitely help you do some coding.

To program in Java (not JavaScript, a similar but different language), you need a “compiler”, a program to convert Java source code to byte-code. In the old days, the only option was Sun’s Java Development Kit; but now you have many options, including the GNU project’s gcj which creates class files or native executables, and jikes, IBM’s open source contribution. You also will need a Java virtual machine, which is simply, a “machine within a machine” which understands Java byte-codes and translates them into machine language on the target processor. Yeah, yeah, I know, it already is getting confusing, but hang in there, you are collecting all the tools you will need to help you process your “coding”. There are many available, but you can never go wrong with the javac compiler and java JRE virtual machine included with Sun’s Java standard edition. Ok, so now off to the races, we can begin our steps to Java Development!

Steps

  1. Visit Sun’s J2SE page and download the correct package for your platform: typically Windows, Linux, or Solaris. Macintosh users will find they already have the J2SE installed. For maximum portability, it may be better to get an older edition; not all your potential users will have the latest JVM installed. Alternatively, use an open-source or other third-party compiler such as gcj or jikes, and compile to a native executable or run it with the Java JRE.
  2. Learn to use a basic, “clean” editor like Notepad, vi, or emacs. These don’t taint your program source with formatting information as does, for example, Microsoft Word. Whatever editor you use, it must have the option to save as “plain text”.
  3. Learn the basic edit-compile-test cycle:
    1. Create or edit the program source file(s).
    2. Compile to .class files.
    3. Run the program with the java executable, or as an applet in a browser. If the functionality isn’t correct, or you want to add more features, start again at step 1.
  4. If you can afford it, buy a good book about Java programming and carefully read the beginning. With this language, the beginning is more difficult than later steps.
  5. Check out sites such as Cksstudios.com, Javacooperation, Cokeandcode and Suns website for resources/tutorials.
  6. Read up and follow a Java tutorial (one of the first recommended tutorials could be tutorial on collections).
  7. For specific info on the classes, methods, and variables, visit Sun’s API
  8. If you face any problems, always try a web search. There are a lot of good articles about Java on the web.

See, that wasn’t very hard now was it? I hope you enjoyed yourself. Keep your eyes peeled as I am sure we will find some great new technologies and projects you can implement within your own “world” to help you be more efficient and tech savvy overall. By the way, I saw some good tips in and around the SUN website and thought I could share them with you too.

Tips

  • Practice makes perfect.
  • After you master the basics, try to so some searches for existing open source projects and work together with other people – this is a great way to practice. From the view point of learning, this is more efficient than to develop something large and complex by yourself.
  • Keep your code organized and add lots of comments for easy reading, remembering, and updating.
  • Unnecessarily long methods (the Java name for subroutines) are looked down upon since they make your code hard to read and difficult to update; learn to factor your code into small, precise modules that do one thing well.
  • Don’t use “magic numbers” if you can help it. Magic numbers are numbers and values that are distributed through your code when they should be defined as a variable, so they can be reused, and explained in a comment so what they represent can be understood. This makes code easier to maintain and update.
  • Download and install an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). For example: NetBeans or Eclipse (open source). This will help speed up the edit-compile-test cycle, at the expense of extra overhead, having to learn a new tool, and limited functionality. Another option is a text-based tool such as GNU Make or Apache Ant, which gives you full control over the process.
  • Master JUnit and write automatic tests that check the consistency of your program. Most serious projects do this.
  • Go through the API provided with the SDK. Make a habit of reading the description of the methods and classes. This will help you remember the method or class used the next time you need it.
  • Learn technologies in which java is strong: network communication, database connection, web development and others.
  • After you get some experience, try to get official programmer certification from Sun Microsystems itself. This is a lot more serious than any other certification you can get from the third parties.

Money Saving Tip

  • If you find yourself really getting into this, it is usually not necessary to pay for Java courses that may be very expensive and offer little value. Unless you want to learn something specific, it is frequently better just to do more programming yourself, and learn from other people’s open-source programs.

Resources and a general Bibliography – THANK YOU SUN for Java

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