Friday, June 1, 2012

Java: what is it? do you need it?

Java is a popular programming language based on objects. Basically instead of saying to the computer "do this, then do that, then if something, do this thing too", we tell him "this is an object. It has this and that attribute. It can do this or that". The benefits or not completely clear to non-programmers but modern experience has shown that it was a good approach to programming, basically because if you want to review the code (add a feature, change something), you will not need to got trough the whole code, you will simply focus on the object you want to change, or maybe you will simply add another object.

I know, this is very abstract for most of you, I am sorry about that, but I thought a quick introduction to Java could be nice. Now, what does all mean to you in practice? Do you need Java? How do you install it? Do you need to upgrade it? etc...

One of the problem of Java, is that to run a java "application" (game, utilities,...), your computer needs to know Java. Not all computers come with Java by default, so it will be your responsibility to install it and maintain it. Don't panic, it is not that bad. Java is installed as any other programs and will warn you if an important update is available. Also, you only need to install it if you are going to use it. Generally speaking you don't need to install it, until you get to a website you regularly need and that is not working because you don't have Java on your computer. You will generally get the error message that Java is not installed and that you need it to view the page.

I advise you to install java from their main website, ie Click on the Free Java Download and you are set. Wasn't it easy? If you get a message once that a new version of Java is available you can also simply go to the mentioned page and follow the instructions there.

I would NOT download java from other websites, peer-to-peer programs and so on, because the version of Java you will find may be corrupted (or simply incompatible with the version of your PC). I would also avoid clicking blindly to links when you get a message that you need to install java from here (this could be a fake message from a hacker).

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