Tim Buchalka

Java is an open-source programming language that has been in demand for years and promises to be in demand for years to come. There are many Java jobs out there, but there are also a lot of Java developers. To stand out from the crowd, you need to do more.

If you are new to Java, it may be hard to build the type of experience that will look good on your resume and help you get noticed. One way to create this experience is to start with a Java project idea and build an application from scratch.

Books can teach you the basics, like syntax and how to write simple code snippets, and you may pick up coding pointers from online videos. Still, sitting down and coding a complete application on your own is the best way to prepare for a Java programming job. Plus, having a completed project means you can commit your finished code to Github, Gitlab, or Bitbucket as part of your portfolio to show prospective employers.

Java 17 Masterclass: Start Coding in 2024

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So if you have learned as much as you can about Java from books or online courses, it’s time to put those Java skills to work and build a working application.

Why learn Java?

There are many excellent reasons to learn Java, including: 


Top Java project ideas

One of the best ways to learn a programming language like Java is to just start coding once you know the basics. There are many programming skills you won’t learn until you build a complete project. Even just attempting to build your own project can be hugely beneficial to you mastering the language.

Still, sometimes it’s just hard to come up with ideas.

To help you with that, here is a list of Java applications that you can build to sharpen your Java skills. The key to finishing one of these projects is picking one that interests you. Once you have that, follow the steps to flesh out the complete application in code, and then take it further. To do so, consider: 

I guess the last question is likely a little too much to hope for right now, but it’s good to go the extra mile. Learning to build the basic application will teach you what you need to know, but trying to flesh out your own additional features by yourself or with the help of Google will give you a little extra to add to your code portfolio.

So let’s look at the project ideas.

Hotel reservation system

Many developers have attempted building a hotel reservation system as a practice project. This is a great Java project to get started on. It’s a relatively complex, yet straightforward application.  To complete it, you will have to create a few modules, such as bookings, payments, room cleaning and preparation, and so on.  As such, your chance of learning a lot is guaranteed.

This was the second project I undertook when I was learning Java. When I finished, I felt like I knew a lot more than when I began. My application had a few bugs, which made the project even more fun and challenging. I learned so much about Java programming just by doing this one project.

Some requirements that you should try to meet while completing this project include:

If you can include a recorded preference to automatically check the user into a room that fits his/her requirements on future visits, then you are really on top of your game! What other requirements can you think of?

You can find a tutorial that will walk you through building a hotel reservation system in Java here.

Web server

You may wonder why you would want to build your own web server in Java when there are so many Java web frameworks to choose from. But if you plan on building web applications in the future, working on your own Java web server will give you insights that you would not learn by using a pre-built server.

To build a basic web server, you need to:

The great thing about this project is that there is no end in sight. After you complete the basic requirements, you can add features like file uploads, streaming videos, PATCH requests, PUT requests, and much more. In the end, you could have a complete web framework if you want to take it that far. Additionally, in doing this, you will learn a lot about how the web works and how to interact with it in Java code.

Here you will find a blog post that will teach you how to build a simple web server in Java.

Product inventory system

Ecommerce is a big business, and product inventory systems help keep eCommerce businesses running. Knowing how to manage inventory with code will teach you how eCommerce works as well as adding a valuable skillset to your resume.

So what does an inventory management system need to do?

There’s really not much to basic inventory management, so you can start this project with relatively simple code. However, no type of inventory management system in use is basic. Ecommerce is more complicated than that. What about multiple warehouse locations? What about an inventory counting mode? Maybe you can have the system connect to an online store and synchronize inventory. Think of other features you might need to add and add them.

You can find a tutorial that will instruct you on how to get started on this project here.

Email application

Yes, you can say this is reinventing the wheel. There are plenty of email applications out there. In fact, you can just use a web browser to check your email most of the time. But like the web server project above, building an email application will teach you a lot about how the internet works. Also, email is something developers have to handle all the time with code and building a complete project to manage it will give you a head start.

Your email application should be able to do the following things:

•      Connect to an SMTP server with credentials

•      Download emails from the SMTP server

•      Send emails through the SMTP server

After that, you can get as fancy as you want. Maybe integrate your email software with your web server and take on Gmail at its own game. If you prefer your email delivered to your desktop, build a GUI and try to emulate some features of Thunderbird.

This tutorial will get you started on building an email application.

WYSIWYG editor

One day someone sat down and thought, why can’t I get what I see? Then they came up with a brilliant idea, a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. This is how some people create web pages without writing a single piece of HTML code. I don’t know if this is incredibly lazy or absolutely genius, but it is an excellent project for a beginning Java developer to tackle.

A WYSIWYG editor will enable you to work with web elements such as tables, images, and paragraphs while the editor automatically creates the appropriate HTML code for it. This is certainly not a new concept – Microsoft FrontPage, Dreamweaver, and WordPress all use WYSIWYG editors. A beginning Java student should be able to build a web-based editor.

A good WYSIWYG editor would do the following things:

But don’t stop there. For this project, it will help to spice things up by adding a broader feature set such as streaming videos or maybe publishing the result to a blog remotely.

This blog post will walk you through creating an editor in Java.

Password manager

Sites get hacked all the time, and passwords, credit card details, and other important information get stolen. When I first got on the internet, I was smart enough to know that a password like “password” wouldn’t cut it, but I thought it was a brilliant idea to create a super long password and use it everywhere. That was also not a good idea. So I eventually broke down and started using a new, really long password for every site. But then I had to find a password manager to keep track of all of them.

Building your own password manager is a great first Java project. We all know how they work, but building one will teach you a lot of good things, like encryption and secure data storage. So what would a password manager need to do?

That’s the basics. As you can see, there is not much to it. A few developers have built businesses on just storing passwords securely. Check them out and see what features you can add to your application. You could add a way to store secure notes, store credit card details, and add entries to categories like work and personal.

This tutorial will show you the steps you need to take to create your password manager.

Text-based adventure game

This was one of the first projects I ever worked on, and it proved to be an excellent learning experience. I had found a version of a Star Trek text-based adventure on an old shareware disk back when those things still existed. After playing it a few times, I realized that it was just as fun as a game with graphics and that, for many games, the graphics are just window dressing. Most of the work goes on in the game engine, and the visuals represent the choices you make in the game.

This project will teach you a lot about game logic. To find a game you like, play it a few times, and try to emulate the logic with your own Java code. Because it is text-based, you will focus on building the logic instead of splitting your attention between that and graphics. Some games you could emulate include:

Here is a tutorial that will get you started building your game. 

Flappy bird game

If you don’t want to build a text-based game, maybe a game with graphics will suit you better. With a text-based game, all you have to do is wait for text input to move the game forward. With a flappy bird game, you will have to detect user interaction with the keyboard and change the graphics based on this input.

To start simple, you could do this:

What else can you think of adding? Maybe use an actual bird for your bird instead of a dot and have the wings flap when you hit the spacebar. You could make the pillars look more realistic while you’re at it as well. A leaderboard where players can enter their initials with their high scores could make the game more competitive.

You can start by reading this tutorial on building a flappy bird game.

Classifieds site

newspaper, classified

You may not think there is much to Craigslist, but building a classifieds site in Java will give you a newfound respect for this seemingly outdated classifieds site that is still one of the most popular sites on the web. This is a perfect project to begin if you are interested in building web applications with Java.

You can either start from scratch or use this as a chance to learn a Java Web Framework like:

Many companies use web frameworks these days instead of rolling out web platforms from scratch because it saves time and money. Practicing with one of these frameworks will give you a head start. So the basics of a classifieds website include:

Then you can go through Craigslist and find other features to add. You can find a tutorial on building a classifieds site in Java here.

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Even more Java project ideas

If none of the ideas above really interest you, here is a list of more Java project ideas that you can explore on your own:

If one of these ideas fits what you want to do, then:

If you are hitting the books and learning about Java, your education isn’t complete until you build your own project. Learning about syntax or how to do something simple won’t stick in your mind for long until you understand how to use them together. Completing software projects will seriously build your Java coding skills. Hopefully, one or more of the ideas above interests you, and you start building one today.

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