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How to Choose a Stack, Part 5: Java

By: Steve Geluso

Java is powerful. It’s one of the most established, trusted programming languages in the software industry. Computer science programs teach it, and it helps companies big and small build secure, performant platforms.

We launched this blog series on how to choose a stack because we teach four programming languages and technologies at the the advanced Code 401 level — Java, Python, .NET, and JavaScript. So we get this question a lot: “How do I choose which Code 401 course to take?”

How do we answer?

Take the Long View

What an exciting industry to be in!

The point is that you don’t have to sweat too much about the first programming language you learn, because you’re going to get to try a lot of different ones. You can truly start anywhere. What’s most important is to just get started.

However, the first language you learn should take into account what direction you want to go in your career. Do you want to work more with data, user interfaces, games, mobile technologies, or another part of the tech industry? Being interested in what you’re learning and building will keep you much more motivated during the long days (and nights) of the learning process.

So let’s take a tour of what Java has to offer!

A Brief Explanation of Java

The programming language was created in 1995 by James Gosling and others at Sun Microsystems. The company (and thereby, the language) was acquired by Oracle in 2010. Today, you’ll find Java powering the infrastructure of many large companies. Amazon, Google, and Nordstrom here in Seattle all use Java extensively. (Did you know Nordstrom has a large technology department? They are doing some cutting edge stuff!)

Java is a great language to learn early on in your career, which is why many computer science degree programs use Java as an introductory language. It forces you to think about things that other languages hide under the hood, like “static typing” (more on this below) and specific data structures. Learning Java as one of your first languages provides you with a solid foundation of programming fundamentals. Learning and understanding other languages after Java becomes a breeze.

Java as a Statically Typed Language

JavaScript looks like this:

var x = 7;
var names = [“Pat”, “Terri”];

Whereas the same program in Java looks like this:

int x = 7;
String[] names = {“Pat”, “Terri”};

When you write a function in Java, you define the type of each input parameter, and the type of what the function returns. No more mysteries wondering what a function takes in and returns out!

public String whatsForDinner(int guests) {
if (guests <= 1) {
return “Microwave Macaroni and Cheese”;
} else if (guests <= 5) {
return “Hot Wings”;
} else {
return “Spaghetti”;
}
}

Declaring the datatype of your variables and return values forces your programs to be more consistent, and allows Java to catch errors even before you run your program. It can warn you when you’re trying to do something impossible.

Java’s static type system is especially useful when you work with many people or work on large programs. It’s a popular language at large and complex companies for this reason (and others).

What You Can Build with Java

In fact, it is the most popular programming language today.

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Mobile Apps

Desktop Apps

Web Apps

Embedded Systems

Internal Tools

Jobs for Java Developers

  • Software Engineer
  • Mobile Developer
  • Android Engineer
  • Developer
  • Java Developer
  • SDE
  • Backend Developer
  • Web Application Developer

Salaries of Java Developers

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How to Learn Java

Books

Online

Classes

In this 10-week course, I’ll be teaching you and your classmates how to write advanced Java code, build servers using SpringMVC, and create your own mobile apps with Android.

Want more information on this course? Get in touch!

Looking for the full series on choosing the right programming stack? Start at Part 1 »

Want more great content as you learn to code? See what’s new on the Code Fellows blog »

Learn to Code. Get a Job. Start Here! Learn more at www.codefellows.org

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