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Learning Java...

Coder-centric area for programming advice and questions.

Learning Java...

Postby Fog.Gene » 23 Mar 2013, 08:21

First of all, I have no idea where to put this. It is related to tutorials and I'm going to ask for help or opinions, but it's not ME3Explorer or even ME related; so General Chat it is. There, introduction over.


I'm trying to learn Java. The reason is because I'm a molecular geneticist and I could really use some custom code to help me parse data, especially when designing vectors, etc. There are a lot of programs out there, but in my opinion the best are 1) open source and/or 2) allow to run custom pieces of code. Self-explanatory situation.

Now, my problem is that every tutorial I find online consists of a series of videos (or PDFs or whatever) that teach me how to copy the code of someone else. Now I'm sure that is fantastic for a lot of people, but I feel I'm doing something wrong because I'm learning nothing from that.

I really have no idea how to do this. I thought about reading a book and going through the "hello world" exercises, but it seems about the same thing. I thought I'd be learning to code through my own practice, by learning how to tell the program what *I* wanted it to do the way *I* wanted it to do. Not by using someone else's way.

I've gone through several tutorials of the kind I explained above, but I don't feel I know any more than when I started. Where am I failing? Maybe I'm just incompetent at this?

How did you guys learn?


/rant

Still frustrated, though.
Regere: Let the world know of its sovereign. I shall be the rule by which all things are measured.
Polyhistor: Then I am to be the slave, for all things shall be my master.
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Re: [My] Failing at Tutorial Learning

Postby saltisgood » 23 Mar 2013, 09:41

If you want to learn Java this isn't a bad place to start. From what I've heard C# and Java share a lot of similarities. I can't help you much with Java syntax since it's a while since I used it but I can help you with general programming techniques and concepts. First I'll tell you the method that works for me when learning a language and hopefully it'll help you too.

I like to take an existing program (a very short one if possible) and just try and figure out what each thing does. I'll change one thing at a time and eventually mould a program that does one particular thing, it doesn't matter if that one thing is completely different from what the original program was meant to do.

So when I first looked at learning C# I figured that ME3Explorer was a good option. However it's a massive program and that put me off. Eventually I found WV's float converter program (it's linked on the forums here somewhere). A quite simple program, it just converts floats to hex or something. I took that and modified it to the point of not being able to recognise it anymore and made it into an anagram solver. That was over the course of a few weeks of looking through the various files and seeing what things to what and where they're called from. As well as checking all the syntax and what words meant what.

My contributions to this project are examples of this approach; the first incarnation of the Texplorer was pretty much just a generalised clone of the Asset Explorer with a focus on textures. I've rewritten it from scratch a few times now so it's less obvious than it used to be.

If I have one major piece of advice it would be to pick a realistic problem that you want to solve with your program and then just take it one step at a time. It doesn't matter how small a step it is, it'll still take you in the right direction. I hope that helps a little. If you have any more specific questions then give me a yell.
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Re: [My] Failing at Tutorial Learning

Postby Fog.Gene » 23 Mar 2013, 10:33

For a time I had the silly idea that I'd like to learn how you created ModMaker, see if I could make something similar for ME1. CMDAMJC and you have been working hard in ME1 Texplorer and I thought it'd be nice if I could contribute. I managed to create a program that launched ME1Explorer, then I got stuck (please don't laugh too hard). But yeah, you're right, the project is so massive that it put me off really fast. Anyway, what I mean to say with this is that I wouldn't mind learning C#, seeing as I'm hanging around here quite a lot lately it's not a bad idea. And yes, it looks really similar to Java.

Really nice advice that last one. I'd rather work in something real that I'm interested in, even if it's a little too big a project. I'll keep looking through the ME3Explorer stuff, see if I find something small that I can manage.

Just one question for now, do you use a C# IDE or just a plain text editor?
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Re: [My] Failing at Tutorial Learning

Postby saltisgood » 23 Mar 2013, 12:42

Haha, no way would I use a plain text editor for this. Just grab Visual Studio. It's free and it's fantastic. Automatic error checking whilst you type, autocomplete, WYSIWYG form editing, great debug mode.

Adding ModMaker support is a good idea. The only reason I haven't done it yet is because I wanted the modding process to work before I implemented something like that. It would be slightly easier for ME1 because you wouldn't need to build in a functionality to run the script in that program. As long as you properly make the script you should be able to run it in the ME3 ModMaker. It's also not particularly difficult, especially when you have the ME3 version to refer to (I say that as the person who wrote the code, rather than a beginner so take it for what it's worth). If you want to give it a go then I'll give you my Skype name and I can walk you through it.
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Re: [My] Failing at Tutorial Learning

Postby Renmiri » 23 Mar 2013, 17:13

salt is right, best way to learn a programming language is to have a problem you want to solve. Otherwise it feels like trying to learn Italian by using an English / Italian dictionary. Boring, aimless, and frustrating.

Pick something you want to do, and search for some Java code that could do it, then tweak it until you get it to do what you want, Rinse, repeat.

Also, use jquery. It is pretty powerful, plus very easy to use. When you start understanding Java well, you won't need jquery but still might use it because it is standard and very handy.
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Re: [My] Failing at Tutorial Learning

Postby Fog.Gene » 24 Mar 2013, 02:05

Okay, I've downloaded Visual Studio and I'm now messing around with it, see how it works. I have also taken a look at the files ModMan.resx, ModMan.Designer.cs and ModMan.cs. These look like the source for ModMaker, especially the last one. I still don't know how to compile them into what to test any changes I make in ME3Explorer, but I'll get there. [Edit: Found it, it's ME3Explorer.csproj. Now I can have fun with it :P]

One nice thing about C#, the msdn programming guide is really friendly. A lot of the things in ModMan.cs I didn't understand are explained very nicely there.

Thanks for the advice Renmiri and salty. I think your advice is spot on. I'm going to stick to C# for a while, see how messing around with ME3Explorer stuff pans out. At this stage I want to learn whatever language I can and doing it with something I like really changes the feeling. Also, I can see this is a friendly place ask questions; big bonus.

salty I'm definitely giving it a go. I still think the next ME will be released before I can actually implement ModMaker into ME1 Texplorer, though. "Not particularly difficult" for you is mostly likely hardcore for me, but it'll be fun anyways. I'll check-in with you when I have something to show for my efforts.
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