If you're reading this, you probably want to learn how to write your own Java applets, like the ones you've seen on other web pages that you think are really neat. Well, I've got bad news for you. Unless you've got some programming experience, or you want to spend a long time learning Java, you'll be disappointed. Also, you should be familiar with the internet, and know some HTML, too. This site does not actually teach you Java. We will give you a brief overview of it, and send you on your way. There are so many Java web sites and books out there that it's not worth repeating them. However, before you attempt to learn Java, you will need a good overview of it, and what to expect. That's what we will tell you.
Before you go any further, we'd like to say this: Throughout the rest of this section we will say that Java is very hard to learn. We're not saying that Java is useless, though. Java is a very powerful and advanced programming language, which is becoming more a more popular and useful by the minute. If Java (or any other programming language, for that matter) were very easy to learn, everybody would be using it. It's just that programming languages that can do a lot are usually not that easy to learn. If it were simple, it wouldn't be nearly as powerful. Basically, Java is a great language, it's just that there's so much to it.
Learning Java with no prior programming experience is very tough. I recommended that you take a Java Programming course at your high school or college, or take a course at a local college that offers them if you've completed school. You can try reading the many Java books that have become available, but you'll probably end up frustrated. If you're going to use the books, get two or more if you can. Each book explains things a little differently, and you'll need more than one explanation.
Every book, web page, or other written way of learning Java is written in a way that only computer programmers can understand. Here's our attempt to tell you what Java is, without all the mumbo-jumbo:
Java is an Object-Oriented Programming Language. This means nothing to you, really. Basically, object-oriented programming allows you to use pre-made "tools" in your programs. These tools are called the Java Classes and they are for creating animations, doing complex math calculations, and everything else you can do with Java. Think of Java classes as a digital toolbox, and you're the builder.
Java, like other programming languages, needs to be compiled. Compiling is when you take the code you've written, and use a compiler program to turn it into a file that your computer can use. The computer can't understand the code you've written until it's been compiled. Think of it this way: you speak Java-ese. The computer speaks computer-ese. The compiler program is the translator, so that the computer understands what you're saying. Compiling can be very frustrating, because that is when you find all the errors in your code.
Now that you know what's involved, you can find a web site or a few books that you like, and try to learn Java. If you have a friend who knows Java, or at least some computer programming language, ask them if they'll help you out. Well, that's it. If you still want to learn Java, go ahead and buy a book, or check out a Java web site and try to learn Java from there-but don't say we didn't warn you.