Online Java Courses: A Look At What’s Available

java best practicesLooking for an online course in Java? Well, you’re in luck. There are a wide variety of courses available, from beginning to advanced, and covering every aspect of the language, every type of application, and every major platform. Whether you want to create web backend applications, mobile phone apps, or something entirely different, there’s a course that’s just right for you!

Java: What It’s All About

What is Java? It’s a programming language, of course — one that looks a lot like C++, but with some significant differences. Here are a few things that you should know about Java:

  • It is designed to be platform-independent. This means that you should be able to run a Java program on any system that has a compatible Java virtual machine installed on it — a concept often referred to as “write once, run anywhere”.
  • It was designed from the ground up to be object-oriented. This means that, unlike C++, object-oriented programming isn’t a later (and optional) addition; it is, instead, built into the language.
  • Java, again unlike C++, does not use pointers to memory locations. In Java, references, which can look like pointers, operate only within the virtual machine environment, and do not refer to physical memory locations within the system. Pointer arithmetic and other pointer-based operations, which are such a basic part of C++ programming, are absent from Java.

So, as is the case with any other modern programming language, when you learn Java, you don’t just learn the mechanics of writing code — you learn how to think like a Java programmer, and to write code that is consistent with the basic principles of the language.

Aside: What Java Isn’t All About

Names can be confusing sometimes, particularly when they’re so similar. That’s the case with Java and JavaScript — and after all, they are both programming languages frequently used in web development. JavaScript is at least partly based on Java, but there are significant differences in the way that it handles a variety of programming issues (such as data types, objects, and functions). JavaScript was designed as a lightweight scripting language for websites (one which could be used by casual programmers, or even non-programmers), and it is interpreted, while Java is compiled. So JavaScript isn’t Java, and Java isn’t JavaScript.

Java for Beginners

Just starting out with Java programming? Maybe you’re unfamiliar with the world of programming in general, and want to learn more about it, using Java as a starting point. You can dive into a Java 101 course, and if you’re an absolute beginner, you can start with the basics, and go from there.

In a beginning Java class, you’ll learn about the fundamental principles of the language, its syntax, data types, the key concepts that lie behind object-oriented programming, and essential programming topics such as arrays, logical operators, conditional statements and loops. If you’re new to Java (even if you’re familiar with other programming languages), a beginning Java course is where you should start, because it will give you a firm foundation for later courses.

The Next Steps

OK. You’ve taken a beginning Java course. How do you feel about it? Ready to go for the heavy-duty stuff, or would you rather take it step-by-step? There’s no single right way to learn — some people dive straight into the deep end of the pool, while other people prefer to start with the basics, then move on to the next step, taking time to absorb and understand everything before going on to an advanced level. Either way can work.

If you’re looking for intermediate Java courses, there are some good ones online. They’ll give you a chance to spend some time covering a variety of subjects, such as constructors, threading, and collections handling. And they provide a good transition from the basics to the subjects covered in advanced Java courses.

Advanced Java Courses

And you will find a very good selection of advanced Java courses online. These are the courses where you’ll learn to deal with the complex issues that come up in day-to-day programming situations, such as networks, packaging and distribution, JDBC (the Java equivalent of ODBC), and exception handling. Many of the advanced courses cover at least some of the subjects handled by intermediate courses, so you can choose a course that focuses on new areas, or, if you’d prefer, one that includes a certain amount of review. The best thing to do is take a look at the advanced Java courses that are available, find some that cover the subjects that you’d like to focus on, or that seem to be the most essential, and choose one that looks like it will be taught in a style that you like.

Specialized Applications: Android

One of the largest current markets for Java programming is in creating applications for the Android operating system. Android apps written in Java, however, do not use the same libraries as standard Java, and have other significant differences which set them part from typical, platform-independent Java applications. In addition, Java apps for Android are not compiled into standard Java bytecode; instead, they are compiled into code which can only run a Android’s special Java virtual machine, called Davlik. If you want to create Android apps in Java, you’ll find an excellent selection of online courses in Java for Android.

Specialized Applications: Applets and Servlets

A Java applet is an application compiled to Java bytecode which is typically run from a web page. As the name implies, applets are intended to be small, and therefore quick to download and run; storage space and data transmission speeds have both increased considerably since Java was originally released, so “small” should be taken as a relative (and very flexible) standard. Since Java applets run in a Java virtual machine, and are essentially confined to the virtual machine’s environment, the user’s system is reasonably well protected from the effects of the applet. Whether you take a beginning or advanced Java course, much of what you learn will involve creating applets.

A Java servlet is basically a kind of applet that runs on a web server, rather than in the user’s browser. Servlets perform the kind of data-management and system functions which you would expect from a server-based application. A Java servlet can also dynamically generate web content, much in the manner of a JavaScript, Perl, or Python script. Java servlet programmers are in demand.

And More…

There are also Java courses covering both standard and specialized development platforms, including Core Java (the basic development system), EE (the extended enterprise system), Eclipse, Swing (GUI development tools), Selenium (testing and web automation), and Spring (an open-source development platform) Check them out today!