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Java for the Beginner - The BEST Resources for Learning Java

Updated on May 21, 2015

Everything you need to get started with Java

If you want to learn Java programming, you've come to the right place! Here you'll find everything you need to get off to a great start learning Java. You can start by downloading the Java Language and NetBeans Integrated Development Environment or Eclipse (for free!). Grab a few good books and tutorials (for free!), or purchase some of the best books written on the topic. I have personally used all these books and wouldn't recommend them if I didn't find them very helpful. You'll also find links to online support groups and forums where you can ask questions or search messages for fast answers, as well as links to code repositories with thousands of source files where you can find practical examples of how others use Java.

Just what IS Java anyway?

Java is a (free!!) flexible programming language developed by Sun Microsystems, now owned by Oracle.

With Java, you can quickly build Web-enabled as well as full-featured stand-alone applications and games. Java programs are portable can be run on many different kinds of computer without being re-written. This was a revolution in programming languages and one of the biggest reasons why since it was first released in 1995, it has been one of the most popular languages ever.

The best part about Java is that the language itself is free from Sun Microsystems, and there are also several free options for training and support of programmers at all skill levels!

First Things First - Downloads you'll need to get started

Here you will find Links to download the Java SDK (Software Development Kit), NetBeans, Java's IDE, as well as other outstanding free tools like the Eclipse IDE and jEdit, a feature-rich java-based programmers' text editor. An 'IDE' is an "Integrated Development Environment" tool.

Note: While an IDE is not required to program in Java (without one you really just need the Java SDK and any text editor, and a huge amount of patience). I feel having an IDE is a great tool for the beginner and can really help with that learning-curve. An IDE is much more than just a text editor. The two most popular IDE's I am aware of are NetBeans and Eclipse. I personally prefer Eclipse, and if I were downloading just one tool besides the Java SDK, Eclipse would be it. Try them both if you have time and see what you like best - they are both free, but you probably only need one IDE.

Free Java E-books and Tutorials - You'll find everything you need right here to get started now!

You'll find there are many books and websites to help with learning Java programming, but not all are very helpful for actually learning to program in Java. The links, and the recommended books below are the best I've found anywhere for beginners, and will give you a solid foundation from which to build. I will mention, though, that the online format can be hard to follow and I recommend buying one of the hard-copy books lsted below for a solid, hands-on resource.

Fast-paced Introductory Java Books - Need to learn Java in a hurry? On-line books are great, but nothing takes the place of having a hard-copy in front of you.

These are my favorite books for getting started in Java in a hurry. I have used these myself and recommended these to several friends who agree. These are good for a quick beginners' overview to get you going right away - whether you are new at programming or even if you are an experienced programmer with other languages this is a good place to start!

Along with these, I would also recommend a more comprehensive and technical resource, like Thinking in Java (4th Edition) or one of the other fine resources listed in the reference section below to go with them.

Head First Java, 2nd Edition
Head First Java, 2nd Edition

This very popular book takes a humorous approach and breaks things down for the reader, putting concepts into ever-day, easily understandable language. People love this book, it is an easy read, and a good way to really 'get' the concepts in your head

Head First Java: Your Brain on Java - A Learner's Guide
Head First Java: Your Brain on Java - A Learner's Guide

This book takes a very interesting approach, applying cognitive science, neurobiology, and educational psychology to exploit the way your brain works to learn Java programming at a deeper level than just than just reading text on a page. It speeds up the time it takes to really learn Java, and not only shows you what you need to know about Java syntax, but it enables and encourages you to think like a Java programmer. It also helps with the concepts behind Object Oriented Programming which a lot of people find difficult at first. This is an excellent wy to get started and helps past some of the biggest hurdles I first encounted when learning Java.

Java All-in-One For Dummies
Java All-in-One For Dummies

In the classic 'Dummies' style, you don't need to be a Dummy to get a lot out of this book. This newly released resource includes eight "minibooks" plus comprehensive online resources, covering everything new programmers need to get going with Java. It focuses on getting up and programming with Java and covers all the basics - explore programming essentials, object-oriented programming concepts, and special programming techniques. Also covers much more - including usage and syntax for Java 7 (the newest version), programing for mobile devices and more. This is a great resource, offering a lot for the beginner on up.


My Personal Java Reference Book Recommendations: - It's essential to have a reference handy as you learn.

(Click on the picture or link to see more book details)

My personal favorite Java reference book is 'Thinking in Java', listed below. The author manages to explain the more difficult concepts in language that is clear and concise, yet doesn't talk down to the reader like some other books. Also - check out the other great books below, which I've found very helpful..

Thinking in Java (4th Edition)
Thinking in Java (4th Edition)

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This book is great! This is a good one for learning, yet stays very useful as a reference and for more advanced topics. Walks carefully through the concepts underlying all of Java programming using a lot of, right to-the-point examples, and also gets into more serious Java topics like Java AWT, multithreading, network programming with Java and covers those topics with the same thoroughness and simplicity. If you get only one Java book - this should be it! 1500 Pages.

The Java Tutorial: A Short Course on the Basics (5th Edition) (Java Series)
The Java Tutorial: A Short Course on the Basics (5th Edition) (Java Series)

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A hands-on guide to the Java programming language, The Java Tutorial, Fifth Edition is perfect for any developer looking for a proven path to programming with Java SE. This popular tutorial Originally from Sun Microsystems when java was first released is a classic that has been updated to also cover the most up-to date features.

Java 7 New Features Cookbook
Java 7 New Features Cookbook

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If you want to learn about the new features in Java 7 you might give the new offering from Packt Publishing, Java 7 New Features Cookbook, a try. This book offers comprehensive coverage of the new features of Java 7, organized around easy-to-follow programing recipes. It covers new features such as the try-with-resources block, the monitoring of directory events, asynchronous IO, new GUI enhancements, and more. It features an example-based approach that focuses on key concepts to provide the foundation to solve real world problems. A great resource if you are already somewhat familiar with Java and one who likes to learn by example.

Java, A Beginner's Guide, 5th Edition
Java, A Beginner's Guide, 5th Edition

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A great beginner resource brought to you by Oracle - This excellent book starts with the basics, such as how to compile and run a Java program, and then discusses the keywords, syntax, and constructs that form the core of the Java language. You'll also find coverage of some of Java's most advanced features, including multithreaded programming and generics. Get started programming in Java right away with help from this fast-paced tutorial.


Online Forums and Code Respositories - Get in touch with other Java programmers and find examples to get the answers you need.

Sometimes, even with the best of resources we have questions or need help or examples to refer to. The following are links to various forums and Java code respositories.

© 2008 darkhorse85

Reader Book Recommendations - Please list your favorite book for learning Java, and a mini-review!

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    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 4 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I also recommend jEdit. I use it to clean up the HTML for my e-books.

    • darkhorse85 profile image

      darkhorse85 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks Shawn - I have gone through and updated all the links and resources top to bottom - everything should be current now!

    • BinkMeister profile image

      Mike Honen 5 years ago from Oman

      Awesome Lens! What is good about Java is that you can get very good IDE's like NetBeans and Eclipse for free. In fact, Eclipse is real good if you ever decided you want to create and app in Android.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      All of the Sun links are outdated since Oracle purchased Java. Are the eBooks still available somewhere?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great Lens!! Thank You Very Much!!

    • anusk1313 lm profile image

      anusk1313 lm 5 years ago

      Good lens. I started learning Java a couple of months ago in my free time and the book of Bruce Eckel is like the Bible of Java; is very very good

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these free ebooks i really needed them!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thx was looking how to learn java even do im in 8th grade getting reddy for colleg thx agen

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great place to get people started. This is exactly what I was looking for!

    • profile image

      jayantheeswar 5 years ago

      great lens...

    • steph-naylor profile image

      steph-naylor 5 years ago

      Super Lens! :)

    • profile image

      Geeve 5 years ago

      A nice starting point for someone starting out on Java. Really pleased for the credit you give to SUN, for the development of JAVA, and their support to the Java community.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Awesom....thnx alot

    • profile image

      gerritschimpf 6 years ago

      Nice article for java beginners.

    • profile image

      DotComBusted 6 years ago

      Great lens. I begun learning Java 3 months ago... I think is the best coding platform ever

    • profile image

      HealthierTips4U 6 years ago

      This is very helpful and I will be sure to pass the page along to others. I like that there are "several free options for training and support of programmers at all skill levels!" Nice to know!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Java by santosh kumar

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Also check out this site for Java online video tutorials: They are completely free.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I used 'Developing Java Software by Winder in first year uni.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Also, An American Lady teacher Mary Herberth explains all the essential concepts of Java in a single class (class as in both Java class and school class) in an amazing and naughty way.

    • audiocloth profile image

      audiocloth 6 years ago

      Here's another recommendation for Thinking in Java.

    • FillmoreMusic profile image

      FillmoreMusic 6 years ago

      I agree with you, Darkhorse - great recommendations on all of these. My favorite is Thinking in Java too -he gives a good foundation for learning, lots of examples which male sense, and it is also a very complete reference for looking things up.


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