I often receive emails from my readers about how they can become a better Java developer, what things they should learn, and which area they can work on to become a Rockstar Java developer. After answering them individually over last few years, I thought to jot down a couple of points which I think will make you a better Java Programmer and Application developer. But, before going into that, I would like to stress that a better programmer is always a better Java developer and that’s why all the tips I have shared before to improve your programming skill and become a better programmer still holds true.
If you haven’t read them yet, you can read it after this article, they will help you to improve your programming and coding skill which is essential to becoming a better Java developer.
This article is totally focused on Java development perspective and I assume you are already good at essential stuff like Coding, Data Structures and Algorithms, and Computer science concepts e.g. Networking, Protocols, Object-oriented programming etc.
These tips are equally useful for both Core Java developer, I mean Java guys who write server-side applications but not really involved with web development skills e.g. JSP, Servlet, and JEE, as well as for Java Web developer whose primary job is to write web applications using Java technology.
Though, I have left out some web stuff e.g. learning JSF or Servlet 4.0 for another day to keep this list short and simple. Anyway, without any further ado, here are some tips and suggestion to become a better Java developer in 2018
1. Learn Java 8
This is the most important thing for a Java developer right now. It’s good 4 years old and even Java 9 has been released 6 month back and people are talking about Java 10 features, I know many programmers who have not written a single line of code using Java 8 features like lambdas and Stream API.
Unfortunately, most of them are experienced Java developer with good 7 to 10 years of experience in their belt. I understand that at some point in your career learning becomes slow but if you don’t act now you will be left behind.
Almost all Java development job now required Java 8 skills and if you don’t have them, it would be very difficult to do well and perform well in your Java interviews.
2. Learn Spring Framework (Spring Boot)
It’s almost imperative nowadays for a Java developer to learn Spring framework as most of the companies prefer to do development using Spring frameworks like Spring MVC, Spring Boot, and Spring Cloud for developing a web application, REST APIs Microservices.
It also promotes best practices like dependency injection and makes your application more testable which is a key requirement for modern-day software.
If you are a new Java developer then I suggest you to start with this Java and Spring tutorial to learn the basics of this awesome framework and if you are already familiar with Spring then you should explore Spring Boot and Spring Cloud for developing next-generation Java application.
3. Learn Unit Testing
If there is one common thing which separates a good Java developer from an average Java developer then its the unit testing skill.
A good and professional Java developer almost always write unit tests for his code and if he is really a Rockstar developer you can see that from his code and tests.
Testing has also come a long way now with several tools for unit testing, integration testing and automation testing available to Java developers.
You can spend a good amount of 2018 to hone your testing skill in Java but those who are new to Java world and unit testing, JUnit is the best library to start with. The recent version JUnit 5 is both powerful and flexible and every Java developer should know that.
4. Learn APIs and Libraries
If you have worked with great Java developers you might have noticed their overall knowledge of Java Ecosystem and APIs forms a major part of it.
Java is world’s most popular and mature programing language and there are tons of libraries and APIs available for doing almost everything possible.
Of course, you are not expected to know all of them but you should be familiar with some key APIs e.g. JSON processing APIs like Jackson and Gson, XML processing APIs like JAXB and Xerces, Unit testing libraries like Mockito and JUnit etc.
If you don’t know them you can learn or at least get an overview of them in 2018. To start with you can check out my list of 20 Java libraries every Java developer should know, which covers libraries from key areas like parsing, bytecode manipulation, concurrency, collections etc.
5. Learn JVM Internals
If you are serious about becoming a Rockstar Java Developer then you must spend the time to learn JVM internals e.g. what are different parts of JVM, how they work, JIT, JVM options, Garbage collections, and collectors etc.
If you know JVM well you can write both robust and high-performance Java application and that’s what Rockstar Java developers do.
As part of this, you should also learn how to profile your Java application, how to find performance bottlenecks e.g. which objects are taking most of your memories and eating CPUs.
6. Learn Design Patterns
If you are writing a Java application from scratch then most of the time you are writing object-oriented code and design patterns are tried and tested solution of common problems.
By knowing and incorporating them into your code you make your application more flexible and easier to change in future.
It also improves overall code quality and documentation because other Java developers are also familiar with design patterns and they will understand your solution rather quickly.
7. Learn DevOps tools
For a modern Java developer, knowledge of DevOps is essential. He should be at least familiar with continuous integration and continuous deployment and how Jenkins helps to achieve that.
It becomes even more important for senior Java developer who often is responsible for setting coding best practices and creating environments, build scripts and guidelines.
I also suggest you spend time and learn more about DevOps in general and tools like Docker, Chef, Kubernetes etc along with Maven and Jenkins.
8. Learn Kotlin
A couple of years of back I read a book called The Well-Grounded Java Developer which highlighted the advantage of becoming a Polyglot programmer.
It inspired me to learn Scala and later I also tried Groovy because of its increased usage in creating build scripts and unit testing.
That experience has helped me a lot and that’s why I encourage Java developers to learn a new JVM language. I have blogged about it previously on 3 JVM languages Java developers should learn in 2018 but if you are in hurry, just Learn Kotlin.
It’s a great language from JetBrains, the company behind IntelliJ IDEA and also official language for Android development as announced by Google in 2017.
It will not only improve your productivity but also help you to go into Android development area. If you are looking to learn Kotlin in 2018 and looking for some good resource then here is a
list of Kotlin courses to start with.
9. Learn Microservices
Architecture is changing constantly and many companies are moving from monolithic application to microservices.
It’s high time for Java developers to learn Microservice architecture and how to create Microservices in Java to take advantage of this recent wave.
10. Learn Your IDE Better
One of the most important traits of better Java developers is that they are very good on their tools. They not only know more tools than an average developer but also they know their tools well.
Since IDEs like Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJ IDEA are a most important tool for a Java programmer, it makes sense to spend some time to learn better.
You can learn about some plugins which make your task easy or some keyboard shortcuts which helps you to navigate better.
Even some small tips help a long way because you use them a lot more than you think.
That’s all about some of my tips to become a better Java developer in 2018. I know it’s difficult to follow all these tips and I am not asking to do that, it’s simply not practical. You can focus on more important first e.g. Learning Java 8 and Learning Spring Framework if you haven’t known them yet but if you are good at those than you can pick other topics e.g. unit testing, JVM internals, and DevOps.
To start with you need to pick one e.g. Java 8 and commit with that before moving to next tip. If you are looking for some low hanging fruits then learning your IDE better is a good choice. You already know your IDE and spending some time to learn it better will make you more productive and better Java developer in quick time.
All the best and don’t forget to share your tips which you think have made you a better Java developer. If you have any suggestion or feedback then you are most welcome, we all learn from each other.