[Edu-sig] java

Jason Cunliffe jason.cunliffe at verizon.net
Wed Oct 15 13:02:38 EDT 2003

> at least three universities in The Netherlands
> use Java to teach programming to non-CS-student.
> Is this bad?

No - Not "bad".. [but it depends what you mean by bad]
Learning any widely used computer language is a good thing, especially if it
is well taught ;-)
Learning several languages over time is even better !

An common argument is about which language makes a good beginning.
Is this your first programming language ?
What skills/experience/interest do you have now?

When considering languages I think it is very important to consider the size
and quality or community and resources around them. This social
collaborative environment is as essential as the specific technical

Python for example has a great community who contribute quality learning and
code openly and generously.
Java has some of that also, though perhaps more mixed up with commercial

Java is very widely used, and increasingly so for sophisticated apps and
frameworks for many communications and scientific software. Java-based tools
can also be used with others very effectively. One example is Jython which
offers a bridge between and benefits of both Java and Python.

Java can be initially very verbose compared to some other languages. That is
why many people prefer languages like Python or Ruby. Because they are
considered more concise, more readable, more elegant, more fun,
[insert-your-own-preference-here], etc. But beauty is in the eye of the
maker, and the beholder. So many levels and ways of approaching progamming,
that it is best to keep a very open mind to these issues. Experience will
make it easier to decide what you like and why.

Java syntax and features are very similar to a number of modern langauges.
So even if you don't continue long with it, you will gain many valuable core
skills you can apply elsewhere.

An excellent book discussed here not long ago is "Head First Java".

good luck
- Jason

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