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Frank Thoughts
What's on Your Java Learning List?
by Frank Sommers
March 9, 2007
Summary
Since we have limited time each day to learn new languages, language features, and APIs, we must decide where to focus our learning efforts.

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When first approaching a new language, the learning path is fairly obvious. Climbing up the learning path, most of us start to feel comfortable with a language when can develop in it the kinds of applications we're interested in. But it is just at that point that many of us reach a plateau: while we maintain a desire to learn more, we also invest less and less time mastering new language features and techniques.

That should make perfect sense when placed in the context of motivation. We typically learn a new language (spoken or artificial) because we anticipate some payoff from the invested time and effort. The best learning experiences are those that offer some payoff early in the process, such as the joy observing "Hello, World!" appear on the console for the first time.

New JSRs, new language features slated for each subsequent JDK release, and the multitude of open-source projects that in some way relate to our work, all vie for our desire to learn and use those new technologies. In addition, for each of the past few years, interest in languages other than Java has been on the rise in the Java community.

Given that the time we can devote to that learning is limited, where do you think the biggest payoffs in learning about new Java features lie? Or do you believe that mastering other languages can yield a bigger payoff at the present than more learning about Java could? To put it in another way: What's on your Java (or non-Java) learning list?

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About the Blogger

Frank Sommers is a Senior Editor with Artima Developer. Prior to joining Artima, Frank wrote the Jiniology and Web services columns for JavaWorld. Frank also serves as chief editor of the Web zine ClusterComputing.org, the IEEE Technical Committee on Scalable Computing's newsletter. Prior to that, he edited the Newsletter of the IEEE Task Force on Cluster Computing. Frank is also founder and president of Autospaces, a company dedicated to bringing service-oriented computing to the automotive software market.

Prior to Autospaces, Frank was vice president of technology and chief software architect at a Los Angeles system integration firm. In that capacity, he designed and developed that company's two main products: A financial underwriting system, and an insurance claims management expert system. Before assuming that position, he was a research fellow at the Center for Multiethnic and Transnational Studies at the University of Southern California, where he participated in a geographic information systems (GIS) project mapping the ethnic populations of the world and the diverse demography of southern California. Frank's interests include parallel and distributed computing, data management, programming languages, cluster and grid computing, and the theoretic foundations of computation. He is a member of the ACM and IEEE, and the American Musicological Society.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2007 Frank Sommers. All rights reserved.

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