Learning by Doing: How to Learn Java Basics by Building Your Own Project
If you are reading this blog post, you might also be the one who wants to learn Java. Ain’t I wrong?
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Java is not the hardest language to start with. So, it becomes way popular among novice developers joining the ranks of Java coders every single day. If you are reading this blog post, you might be interested in learning Java.
Java is widely used across industry, and especially in the area of Enterprise software, which results in many high paying job opportunities and makes this programming language a common language for newbies. A general promotion of it within colleges and other institutions providing a formal Computer Science education also contributes to its popularity.
However, these are not the only advantages of Java — among other things, it allows you to adopt good practices and makes it way easier to learn other languages in the future. And with no doubt, you can easily learn it if you're following the right approach. In this post, I am going to share some of them with you.
The Importance of Practice in Programming
Beyond all doubt, practice is important and valuable. But, before we get to the advantages of hands-on experience, I want to draw your attention to one essential thing I often tell my students.
New programmers who are just learning and start implementing things, without being supervised, often end up adapting bad practices. To avoid that, especially when you are making your first steps in programming, I recommend looking for a person who will supervise you and teach you. A strong mentorship with someone engaged in a serious project, as well as communication within the community in the form of sharing code and asking for feedback, is worth the effort. Similarly, when you are applying for your first job, you want to be looking for a company with a strong team and a good leader who would be keen on investing into your learning.
Now, let’s return to practical experience. Learning by doing is different from learning by passively consuming the information. To make sure we can use all the newly acquired technology, we should put our skills to test and write tons of code. The benefits of hands-on experience are almost endless.
Efficiency and Productivity
By practicing, you get a clear understanding of what programming is. Consequently, you start doing better with each new hands-on task, complete it faster, and thus become more productive.
Even if you are not working on real-world projects yet, it's important to get used to having deadlines. They are inextricably linked to the programming process. My recommendation is to set up your own deadlines while practicing stage and follow them as closely as possible.
With time, patience, and repeated practice, you become more accurate — the more you train, the fewer mistakes you make. When you just start your path to programming, you shouldn’t get afraid of missteps. We all make them while learning, so it is normal. This is where hands-on experience comes in handy and allows you to grow and get rid of your previous mistakes with every written line of code.
Remember one thing, mistakes are not the reason to blame yourself — rather take them as experience.
Productivity and Fluidity
Programming supposes that you create things, and in the early stages of learning this involves using lots of things you’ve just learned, which could be hard. Sure, you may feel first like you are lacking productivity and don't manage to create many things quickly. But, the reason for getting stuck is simple — you are just deeply immersed in Java syntax or semantics. Both make it quite challenging to get up to speed at the stage of training. This is where practice can add more fluidity to coding, whereas building your own projects allows you to express your creativity and help not to lose motivation.
The practice is what can give you more opportunities, help to level up, and step up in your career. That is fine if you start with small projects — they give a better idea of programming. But, they can still hardly justify the skills you possess. So, I recommend considering projects that provide for increasing complexity and not finishing your learning with small challenges only.
Why Learn From Your Own Mini-Projects?
Before my students, novice programmers, come to pursue a successful career in Java development, I always recommend that they build their own projects. That is an effective way to sharpen the skills and apply the knowledge in practice.
In a highly competitive environment, those starting their path in Java programming should have practical experience with real-world tasks. Working on real projects allows you to test your problem-solving ability, knowledge, reveal strong points, improve the weaknesses, and get the information that will help to improve your career prospects.
Another personal recommendation I give to my students is to build projects that keep them excited. When doing something you are interested in, you most likely feel motivated and overcome difficulties with training easily. Other than that, building cool projects avoids burnout, which is especially crucial for people starting something new in their lives.
How to Find Ideas for Your Project?
Before you go to Google for Java project ideas or turn to those I’ve collected for you in this post, I suggest you think first about some real-life problems, which involve you or your family and friends that you can automate. Many programmers start by creating projects that would make their lives easier. Maybe you also have one?
If not yet, consider the following seven ideas you can find fit for your mini-project.
Ideas for Those Who Have Some Previous Knowledge
1. Your Own Version of a Classic Game
If you don't have an idea of a project you’ve long desired to implement, writing your unique version of the game is a great way to get started. Making a game provides a lot of advantages — you have much fun and feel the freedom to do whatever you think is right in your programming project. You can write the game matching your purposes — it can be either simple or complicated, short or long, depending on your skillset and time put into the project.
You can start with different games and write them on one of the platforms, like CodeGym. After registering to a website, you will get access to a section with classic games, where you can create your own version. Some of the most popular are Mine Picker, 2048, Moon Lander, Racer, Hungry Snake, etc. Even if you’ve just started to learn Java fundamentals, you still can build a project following the given step-by-step tutorials and tips.
1.2. Hungry Snake
Many of you have played the classic Snake game at least once in life. CodeGym has decided to create its analogue and added it to the Games section on the site. The idea is to feed a snake with so-called tokens and prevent it from touching the boundaries and biting itself. As soon as the game is over, the score will appear.
Snake is simple enough to write it on your own using Java. On CodeGym, it comes with well-described instructions to help a novice developer handle the task without a hassle.
2. Currency Converter
Meet another beginner-friendly Java project designed with a graphical user interface. The idea is to accept the input amount of money from the user in one currency and convert it into another preferred one. This mini-project will teach you how to develop a currency converter using Java Netbeans and Java Servlets concepts along with the other web development features.
Ideas for Advanced Learners
3. Super Mario Bros Clone
Another project designed to help you put your Java programming skills on test refers to Super Mario Bros. It is an open-source project especially useful as a boilerplate for developers who want to learn game programming and create games after. This Android clone of a famous Nintendo game uses Java and the LibGDX framework. Working on it will give you the necessary skills in Game Loops, Sprites, Sprite Sheets, Texture Maps, Collision Detection, etc.
You’ll end up with a game that runs on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS and Windows.
4. School Management System
This comprehensive school management system is developed to ensure communication with students and teachers along with fund management. It doesn’t involve attending school, tracking buses, and schedules — it rather allows the mentors to introduce a money management system to a college.
This particular project requires implementing Java concepts, such as OOPs, Collection in Java, and databases. The video instruction is relatively long, so you will need about two hours to watch it and twice more to create your own system.
5. Electricity Billing System
I would call it an upgraded version of a standard billing system. Because of the process automation or computerization, the software boasts efficiency, accessibility, and seamless work. It also doesn’t demand a lot of human resources to manage the billing process — the system automatically calculates the consumption units for a certain period and the amount of money to be paid for them.
A few features that make the software more simple and service-oriented include:
High speed and accuracy.
Data exchange between the office of electricity and consumers.
Security and control measures.
Support for debugging, etc.
6. Email Application
If the previous projects are not enough to edge your Java skills, this email application project will definitely satisfy your hunger for more advanced coding practice. Nevertheless, it remains in the category for beginners and is quite comprehensive.
This email application project provides real project specs and gives a clear understanding of Math.random, OOPs, and encapsulation Java concepts so that you can easily set a random password. Other than that, you will be practicing in setting the mailbox capacity and alternate email and changing passwords. The video that will guide you through each step of coding simple email operations, lasts 37 minutes only.
Without a doubt, hands-on experience can significantly change the way you feel about a certain skill. It can make you do better in programming, improves your productivity and efficiency, lets you level up, and consequently, exceed all your previous accomplishments. I would be happy to know about the achievement of your first Java projects. So, feel free to share them with me.
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