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How to Switch From PHP to Java and Why It’s Still a Good Idea

selawsky profile image John Selawsky ・6 min read

PHP (Hypertext Processor) and Java are two of the most common programming languages ruling the Internet. Though these are fundamentally different and were not meant to be direct substitutes for each other, the lines have blurred over the decades. In today’s world, both of these provide reliable frameworks for building web applications.

If you have been a PHP programmer for years and looking to expand your horizons by exploring the Java universe, you are set for a fascinating journey that is laden with challenges. Before we explore the benefits and challenges faced by a PHP programmer while switching to Java, let us have a brief comparison between the two.

Java and PHP — Pros and Cons

Both these languages have intersecting similarities and differences. Here are some pros and cons of both. As a PHP programmer, you will find this interesting, as this bird’s eye view into the Java world will help you understand what to expect and evaluate the effort it will take to make the switch to Java.
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Challenges, Benefits, and Motivation for Learning Java

Challenges in Learning Java

Java is a highly standardized but exhaustive language. It has a large developer community around the world and plenty of online forums available to help each other out. Unlike other languages, devoting one or two years to learning Java will not make you an expert. It is a long journey, and you will have to be persistent and patient.

For a developer with a solid PHP background, Java will appear to be more organized, comprehensive, and direct. You will need to devote time to understand the hierarchy of its libraries and conventions followed by its developers around the world. It may appear daunting at first, but it will be a big boost in the long run, as you will find it easy to collaborate with developers globally and build complex, enterprise-level applications.

Career Benefits of Learning Java

Career progression is a significant motivation for programmers contemplating a switch to Java. As it is the preferred language for building complex business software, the job market is usually warm to Java programmers. An intermediate level developer will be able to pay his/her bills, and there will be a more rewarding career on attaining expertise.

Here are the career rewards you stand to reap as you progress along your Java programming journey:

  • You can secure an entry-level role by getting online training, attending a Bootcamp, or having a relevant bachelor’s degree in computer science.
  • You can switch your profile from a Java developer to an interface designer or an application tester.
  • As you work with architects, web developers, and engineers, you refine your communication and learn new collaborative tools.
  • Java drives billions of devices and many popular websites such as Facebook and Amazon. The job satisfaction of solving real-world problems and simplifying people’s lives keeps your job exciting.
  • Java has globally recognized certifications like OCAJP and OCPJP that you can add to your portfolio and climb up the professional ladder.
  • You have opportunities to move into senior-level roles like an architect or technical manager.
  • You are learning another programming language, which makes you a versatile developer.
  • Given its limitations, PHP is not the preferred language for building large applications, and its popularity is slowly diminishing as it is primarily a server-side scripting language. ## How to Learn Java from a PHP Background? There is a common belief in the developers’ community that learning programming is more complicated than learning a programming language. If you know PHP well enough, you already know how to program. Therefore, you already have a head start, and making the switch to Java will not be nearly as difficult as someone entirely new to programming.

Java is more than just a programming language. Other than the syntax and libraries, you need to get accustomed to the “java way” of programming. It will help you grasp the globally followed conventions and fine-tune your skills. PHP vs. Java similarities end with server-side programming discussions.

Here are a few tips that will help you tackle Java’s vastness in a systematic manner:

  • Java has an entire universe inside it — set realistic expectations and do not expect to be a master in a year or two.
  • Start with a solid foundation in basics.
  • Java comes with some great tools with a deep understanding of the language — Eclipse, NetBeans, IntelliJ. Start with one of these rather than sailing two boats simultaneously.
  • Practice coding as you go along. Avoid the trap of overloading yourself with theory as real learning happens by getting your hands dirty.

And here are a few precious resources that will help you get started:

  • CodeGym is a handy online resource to learn Java, with 80% of the course focused on hands-on practice. Interactive course with a virtual mentor for prompt evaluation and feedback.
  • Javarevisited — well-structured resource with Java tutorials, useful articles and advices. Javarevisited will be helpful for anyone who decided to learn Java.
  • W3schools — It is another comprehensive online resource for learning Java, and the best part is that it is free to use. The course is designed systematically and starts from scratch so that beginners can easily pick up the concepts.
  • Head First Java (by Bert Bates and Kathy Sierra) — This book has been the gold standard of learning java and is recommended by developers from all around the world. Irrespective of the medium you choose to learn Java from, we highly recommend this as a ready reference.
  • Resources listed on Quora — Quora is a vibrant platform for exchanging ideas, and this thread about java resources is very informative, especially for beginners.
  • Reddit — This Reddit forum answers many queries about a learning java that a beginner would have. It includes resources you should refer to and the approach you should adopt to give yourself the best chance of progress.

Having a collection of useful resources is just one part of the story. If you want to make substantial strides as a java developer, you must adopt an approach that will help you make the most out of the resources you have.

This Quora thread about the best way to learn java will be beneficial for beginners stepping into the java world for the very first time. Many experienced programmers have shared their recommendations, which would go a long way in helping you gain expertise.

Conclusion

Java is a genuinely global skill that is likely to remain in demand for many years to come. It will be a great addition to your programming repertoire. Java developers command higher compensation as they have plenty of opportunities to work with large businesses. Just be patient through the learning curve, and do not let Java’s vastness overwhelm you, and the results will be great!

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