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  1. #1
    FormerBGIuser is offline Member
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    Default Advice for first step for absolute beginner

    Hello, I have a hobbyist background in C/C++ and old BASIC, made two raw beginner programs in pascal yesterday, and have no java experience at all. I'm wondering which compiler/IDE I should start on--free would be the only choice I would consider. So, what are some of the (legal) free setups out there that are popular amongst those in the know? Thefreecountry.com lists the following six: Eclipse, NetBeans, DrJava, Jipe, Gel and Blue J. Basically, I'm looking for something approximately equal to the Code:Blocks IDE w/MingW C++, just Java instead, if that means anything. Thanks in advance for any and all replies! -B
    Last edited by FormerBGIuser; 03-05-2011 at 06:39 PM.

  2. #2
    mr_guy is offline Member
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    Here is a poll on what people use to write their code.
    what-you-using-write-your-code.html

    Eclipse and Netbeans are the most popular, but i think it would be better to start with Notepad and a command line interface until you have the hang of java programming. Java is quite similar to C and C++ so it wont take long.

  3. #3
    pbrockway2 is offline Moderator
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    Eclipse and Netbeans are both very good.

    Both offer "wizards" of various sorts that write code for you. People who rely on these (and I'm not for one moment suggesting you are such a one) make blinding progress followed very shortly thereafter by hitting a complete dead end. They end up with an error in code they don't understand and, precisely because they don't understand it, there's nothing anyone else can do to help them.

    This is mostly a matter of discipline: these IDEs offer great aids like continuous error checking and links to the documentation as well as dangers if they are ill used as a replacement for understanding.

    The compilation process for Java and C differ hugely; there is no separate linkage step. Even if there was no other reason this is reason enough to use a plain text editor to begin with (I use TextPad on Windows) and compile from the command line as suggested. Decent tutorials will not rely on IDE magic, so this approach is always possible. And the usage of the javac executable is well documented in case of difficulties.

    (A "meta" advantage of using the command line to compile is that it makes communication on a forum like this easier. You can't assume that others understand the peculiarities of some particular IDE, and, if what you hit is a Java problem it is best expressed in a way that is accessible to everyone.)

  4. #4
    FormerBGIuser is offline Member
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    Well thank you very much, that was a very educational answer, and the fact that you seconded what the other person, Mr. Guy, said helps to make the path pretty clear. I like the way you sort of introduced me to the pitfalls that this particular language kind of has, what with the IDEs being so powerful and people getting caught up in them without being able to control or understand what's going on. That sounds like "better crawl before running". Thanx for the 'inner glimpse' of java to the newcomer.
    Last edited by FormerBGIuser; 03-06-2011 at 04:54 AM.

  5. #5
    pbrockway2 is offline Moderator
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    You're welcome.

    With respect to IDEs you'll find every flavour of opinion on a forum like this from "I use an IDE so it's obviously the best thing to do" to those who have seen so many NetBeans train wrecks that they are apt to regard IDEs in the hands of new programmers as about as benficial as crack cocaine.

    I'm something of a moderate: you do need to understand the basic usage of the compiler tools (as with any tools) and the usage is mostly clearly seen at the command line. Beyond that, you use an IDE as soon as you can trust yourself. The time spent at the command line is not wasted as it gives you a clue about the hundreds of configuration options that an IDE typically offers.

    Good luck with your programming!

  6. #6
    camaro01 is offline Member
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    I am new to the programming world too and when I first started playing around I used Eclipse. After I started the class, the professor requested that we use Jgrasp. It is also free and it doesn't have the "complete the code for you" feature that Eclipse has.

    Has anyone used JGrasp?

  7. #7
    gcalvin is offline Senior Member
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    I won't dispute that it's best for a new user to learn to use a plain-text editor and command line build tools. But for somebody with previous programming experience, that period of sticking with primitive tools doesn't need to last more than a couple of weeks, or maybe a month. You can't call yourself a carpenter without knowing how to use a claw hammer and a hand saw, but that's no reason to try to build a house without any power tools.

    When you're ready to try an IDE, I strongly recommend this series of tutorials:

    Eclipse and Java for Total Beginners

    They're in nice bite-sized videos, they're thorough without being overly pedantic, and they demonstrate real development practice, including testing with JUnit. They demonstrate features of Eclipse that you're not likely to find on your own, and best of all, they give you a good, solid appreciation for why you'd even want to do object-oriented programming.

    -Gary-

  8. #8
    Stamoulohta is offline Member
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    The tutorial is very nice and helpful. I guess you could find other good quality tutorials on the internet though... but you would never find one with the same intro music!!! :D

    man that rocks!!!

  9. #9
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    j2me64 is offline Senior Member
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    i also started with the link given by gcalvin. i've implemented all tutorials from m. dexter and sometimes i didn't really understand the code in a deep way. so if you have a question post it here.

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