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Java Part 1: The Basics

Java is arguably the hottest programming language today. It can be used cross platform to build complete applications, applets and even web pages. In this 10 part series of articles, Chris will explain what Java is, and also provide working examples, clearly describing the Java language syntax.

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By: Chris Noack
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November 20, 2001
  1. · Java Part 1: The Basics
  2. · The whats, hows and cans
  3. · What are objects?
  4. · One Name: Many Uses
  5. · Conclusion

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Java Part 1: The Basics - The whats, hows and cans
(Page 2 of 5 )

What Is Java?

Java is a state of the art Object Oriented (OO) language that derives much of its syntax from the C language. Java is based on C++, which is based on C. I will use C as a comparison to Java in several places throughout these articles, so a working knowledge of some object-orientated programming language (such as C++/Visual Basic) will help you gain more from these Java articles!

Can I Learn Java Easily?

Yes. A C++ developer can pick up Java very quickly because of the similar syntax between the languages. If you are not a proficient C++ developer, though, don't despair... with a bit of effort and time, you can learn the basics of Java within just a couple of days!

Where did Java come from and why is it so good?

Java was released by Sun Microsystems in late 1995 and quickly took the programming world by storm. This was because Java is as powerful as other object-orientated languages without all of the confusing language constructs that made languages like C++ so challenging. This was not the only reason for Java's popularity in the programming world.

Java is a highly portable language. Once compiled into byte-code (the equivalent to interpreted code in other languages), Java applications are executable on any computer with the Java platform installed. This is a great advantage over other languages that need to be modified to run under different

operating systems.

A Larger Character Set

Java makes use of a more advanced character set than C. It's called the Unicode

character set. This set contains more characters than ASCII, including many more symbols. Unicode makes Java more of an international language, using suitably more characters, closely resembling naturally spoken languages.

Can I write Java quickly without annoying bugs?

Well no... every programming language has bugs somewhere. But java is a language that encourages a clean programming style, as opposed to C in which things can be implemented in messy and buggy ways. Code is more likely to work reliably and is also more likely to be reusable, thanks to object orientation and encapsulation. As long as certain procedures of object-orientated development are followed, instances of code re-use will be high and the code will be more easily maintained.

No more pointers!

Every C/C++ coder reading this article will rejoice in hearing that pointers have been omitted from Java. Pointers are a source of great confusion and error in C and C++ programs. Gone are the days of pointers to pointers to pointers!

Now that we have a general overview of what Java is, lets talk about a fundamental aspect of Java and the object orientated paradigm: Objects.
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