This article is a guest post by Irina Papuc from Toptal.
As a Java developer, what do you do when you run into a coding question that you can’t quite figure out? Fear not! Anyone who’s ever encountered a bug that they just couldn’t fix knows that the best place to turn to help is a community. If you don’t know what a Java community is, don’t worry — you’re probably not alone. Plenty of developers go months or even years without realizing that help, tips, sample code, and more are just seconds away. Communities are forums, tutorials, meetups, and everything in between that helps programmers get the support they need to do their thing. There are hundreds of communities, and dozens of ones just dedicated to Java, so we figured we’d give you a head start and suggest a couple of great Java communities so that you can hit the ground running. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is it: this is a just a tiny sample of what’s out there, so get on google and start looking!
Toptal has a bunch of resources for Java developers, but two in particular that you should definitely check out. First, their interview sample. Toptal has a bunch of questions you might get asked in an interview for a top-ranked company. You don’t need to memorize these particular questions; there are thousands of questions you might be asked. What you should do, though, is see how intricate the answers are, and make sure you can answer with the same level of grace and complexity. Once you checked all of that out, head over to Toptal’s Engineering Blog. You can find a ton of cool things — everything from tech updates to reviews of new products — that will help you stay one step ahead of the competition.
JCP is a great community, though it’s geared to programmers who have been around the block a few times. Once you sign up for the community, you can participate in high-level discussions about new JSR’s. If you’re interested, you can submit a proposal for a JSR of your own, though it’ll go through a pretty lengthy review process. Still, if you’re interested in seeing how you match up to the pros, it’s definitely worth it!
JavaRanch is about as far from JCP as you can get — it’s a site dedicated to Java beginners, or “greenhorns,” as the site refers to them. JavaRanch will guide you from the fundamentals of Java to building your first program, and will offer great support throughout. This community is definitely a must for anyone just starting to master the basics of Java who wants to take their talent to the next level without paying a whole bunch of money. They also offer some cool challenges to see how far you’ve come! Also, as an added bonus, they have a bizarre section dedicated to farming, if you’re into that sort of thing.
DZone has a bunch of separate communities, but their Java community is a great addition to their team. It’s super user-friendly, and has tutorials, expert forums, and informational articles about the latest in Java. They also have a great list of resources from some of their partners that will help you sharpen your skills and market your talent. Ultimately, DZone is basically a catch-all for pretty much everything you could possibly need to launch a successful career in Java or any other language.
Most Java communities are online, but there are — wait for it — places where you can meet fellow developers in-person. We know — that’s pretty radical — but we promise it’s worth it. While online communities are great, since you can get information quickly while you’re working, meetups are an awesome opportunity to broaden your network and meet some friendly coders who will challenge you to improve your skills and become a more well-rounded developer. Remember: most people find employment through people they know, so the more developers you know, the better your odds are of being gainfully employed in the near future.
Phew. That’s a whole lot of information to get you started, but we’re confident you can handle it. Check out the four online communities we talked about, and start browsing for local meetups. As with any sort of community, it’s important to give back every now and then. You don’t have to be responding to posts right and left, but if a particular forum helps you reach the next level, consider helping out a less-skilled coder at some point to “pay it forward.” As an added bonus, we’ve always found that we often learn best when we have to explain an extremely complex concept in simple language to someone who hasn’t learned as much as we have. Answering questions on a forum might help you reorganize your thoughts, or approach a topic in a way you hadn’t considered before. Try it out!