What is Java programming language?

As of 2022, there are approximately 700 programming languages. Out of those 700, Java is consistently one of the top 10 most popular. 

Holding one of the top 10 spots out of 700 total options is impressive. But what is Java? Why is it so popular? Who uses it, and what do they do with it?

Java is an object-oriented programming language that has been around since the early 1990s. 

Other languages use a paradigm known as structured programming. C++ and other early computer programming languages used structured programming. They rely on repeated blocks of code. 

Object oriented programming example using Iron Man

Java is an object-oriented coding language. Object-oriented languages are more efficient in terms of the written code itself. Rather than using similar chunks of code over and over, they involve classes and objects that contain basic instructions. A class is a kind of template. An object is an instance of the template. A programmer can simply insert an object into the code. Since that object inherits its behavior from the class it belongs to (its template), there’s no need to write code to make it work. It’s ready to use immediately. That’s a simplified explanation, but you can get into more detail about Java and object-oriented programming in our article about the differences between Java and JavaScript.

Java Coding is Used in Many Industries

Java is a powerful and popular language. It’s responsible for at least some of the functionality in most of the world’s biggest, most powerful software products. According to the website Statista.com, Java is the fifth most popular programming language in the world. It powers parts of YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon. In addition, software engineers use Java to build Android apps and games. 

Java is used in game development, dad and daughter playing games

Industries that rely on Java include:

Java is a valuable skill for people in many professions, such as engineering and science. Knowing how to code in Java can be beneficial for:

Java Coding is Used by Large Companies

Many of the biggest companies in the world rely on Java to power their products. These are companies such as:

People at these companies use Java to build Android apps, write code for web apps, create desktop software, and automate repetitive tasks.

Java Coding for Kids & Teens

Java is a great language for kids to learn because it has staying power. It has been around since the early 1990s. That’s a long time in the world of computers. Java also has a strong presence on the Internet plus a community of about 9 million developers. Java powers a lot of complex applications and isn’t going away anytime soon.

Like many other STEM activities, learning to code in Java can help kids develop soft skills. The most important one, and certainly the one that takes the longest to master, is patience. Coding can be frustrating. You can spend hours working on a small part of a program without making much progress. Sometimes you end up going back several steps to rework something you thought you had already figured out. Perseverance and learning to stick with a problem is a solid benefit of coding. 

Programming in Java, or any language, also develops strong abstract thinking skills and creativity. There are often several ways of approaching and solving a problem. And finally, group classes and team projects help aspiring coders learn teamwork. Professional software developers often work in groups to plan their projects, write code, review their work, and fix problems. So, teamwork is one of the most crucial skills a software engineer can have. 

Java programming is used in many industries

Another excellent reason for kids to learn Java is that it’s used in the AP Computer Science A exam. This course is a helpful step for kids who want to pursue a college degree in computer science and kids who want to become professional software engineers. You can learn more about the exam in our article entitled How to Get a 5: Preparing for the AP Computer Science Exam.

Examples of Java Code

When software engineers and coders learn a new programming language, they usually start by building a simple program called Hello World. It’s a simple program that prints the words “Hello World” on the screen. Learning how to write this program in a new language, shows you the basic structure you need to get started. 

You won’t be able to build anything you want just because you know how to write some words on the screen. But Hello World is a simple starting point for understanding a language’s syntax and keywords. Consider this example in Java.

class HelloWorldJava {
	public static void main(String[] args) {
		System.out.println("Hello, World!"); 
	}
}

This short bit of code can tell you a lot about Java. In the first line, you can see that the code in the following lines is going to be part of a class called HelloWorldJava. It’s also clear that Java relies on curly brackets to contain the code for a class. The forward slashes and asterisks indicate comments. These are snippets of text that don’t actually do anything. They exist just for the programmer’s benefit, or the benefit of other programmers who may work on this code later. This code provides other information about how Java works, but let’s skip to what it does. If you were to run this program, you’d see this on your screen:

Hello, World!

Notice that these words have quotes around them in the code. But the quotes aren’t there in the final results. That’s another discovery you make when you learn to write a simple Hello World program.

Learn Java Coding with Minecraft

As you’re about to find out, there are many, many ways for kids to learn Java. But, as the authors of the book Algorithms to Live By say, the best strategy in life is usually to experiment early and narrow down your options later. This is good advice for just about anything, including coding. So let’s look at some interesting ways to learn Java, starting with Minecraft

Minecraft is a video game that is unbelievably popular around the world. As of 2022, there are nearly 480 million players in the United States, China, and many other countries. Some of those players like to do something called ‘modding’. That’s a term people use to talk about customizing a game with code. Minecraft players can do their modding with Java. YouTube is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to learn Minecraft modding with Java.

Recommended: 10 Best Minecraft Mods for Kids

Paid & Free Resources to Learn Java Coding

Java’s Website

The first stop for anyone who wants to learn Java should probably be the Java website at Java.com. There are several helpful resources, and the site links to video tutorials, user groups, FAQs, and a podcast. 

Books

Just because coding is a digital activity doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to digital ways of learning it. Books can be useful for anyone learning Java, although it’s important to find out whether the content is up to date. Things change fast in the world of programming, so written materials can fall behind quickly. 

Java books written specifically for kids include:

No Starch Press is a reliable source of instructional content about coding that is fairly accessible to young readers. In Easy Steps is another publisher who offers simple, plain language writing about coding. Check out Java in Easy Steps for a great introduction to Java programming.

Podcasts

You might not think it’s possible to learn how to program in Java from a podcast. But you can do just that and a whole lot more. There are podcasts that guide listeners through Java step-by-step, podcasts that keep enthusiasts up to date with the latest Java-related news, and podcasts that discuss the process of becoming a professional Java developer. In fact, the makers of Java (Oracle) have their own podcast called Inside Java! Here are some other noteworthy shows to check out:

These podcasts aren’t aimed at kids, so it might be a good idea to give them a listen before sharing.

Java Classes for Kids

You’ve just looked at some of the different ways you can use Java, plus a few real-world examples of industries and professionals who work with it. Now is a good time to look at the question of the best way to learn Java for kids. 

Variety ensures that learning doesn’t get boring, and there’s plenty of it in the resources listed above. But variety also presents some challenges. The biggest is what psychologists call the paradox of choice. That’s what happens when there are so many options that it’s hard to choose just one. If you’ve ever tried to learn a language on your own, you may have encountered this phenomenon. Maybe you’ve tried to learn via a mobile app, and then switched to a website because it seemed better. Later you may have changed to books and workbooks, thinking they could be more effective.

Online classes eliminate the uncertainty about what to study and how, especially for kids. They deliver a structured way to learn. The best online classes involve live instruction in a synchronous environment. That means students log in at the same time, learn together, and get feedback from an instructor in real time. Classes like these provide structure so students know exactly what to work on and when. An instructor helps kids understand the material. CodeWizardsHQ offers a summer Java track that prepares kids for the AP Computer Science A class in high school. 

Summer coding classes deliver plenty of opportunities for kids to sharpen their skills and prepare for the next school year. You can see a list of CodeWizardsHQ’s summer coding classes for kids at https://www.codewizardshq.com/summer/classes.

Learning Java Can And Should Be Fun

There are many options for kids who want to learn Java. If you feel like it’s hard to choose the right one to get your child started, remember that experimentation is a great way to identify what’s really interesting. Check out some books and podcasts. Look at tutorials on YouTube. Consider online coding classes for an outstanding combination of fun projects and excellent instruction. However they do it, learning Java will give kids a strong skill and advantage for their future!