College Botany and the Java Ecosystem

When I was a student at the University of Washington, vaguely interested in plant life, I decided to sign up for a botany class on top of an already busy schedule. “How hard could it be?” I thought, after all, I did very well in biology class in high school.

Big mistake.

Botany is hard, and not for the reasons you might expect. A first-year botany student learns more new words than a first-year foreign language student. Why is that? Because you have to learn all the different words to tell different parts of different kinds of plants apart. There’s a small amount of logically figuring stuff out (which I enjoy greatly) but it’s mostly rote memorization (which I enjoy not so much).

For the last few years, I’ve been working in the C#/.NET ecosystem, where most of the day-to-day tools and technologies are pretty clearly defined and packaged by Microsoft. Sure, you need source control, nUnit, ReSharper, and CruiseControl, but that’s about it.

I’ve just finished my first week as a developer working on a Java project. My first impression: the entire ecosystem is huge. I’ve had to learn about a billion new words. Maven, Pom, Jmx, Spring, JBoss, JDK, ClassPath, VM Parameters, Jetty, TeamCity, beans, WARs, JARs, SARs, EE/SE/ME, etc. Well, maybe it’s not as many new words as I tried to learn in botany, but it felt like a lot to me this week.

But it has been good. The core languages between C# and Java are almost exactly the same, with the distinctions being really interesting. The Pragmatic Programmers suggest learning a new programming language every year, and I understand why. Even if I don’t keep at this whole Java thing long-term, I’ll come out of it a better C# developer.

Actually, this would make two new languages this year, if you’re willing to count scratch.

The best thing about this learning experience is that IntelliJ has the generally same keyboard shortcuts at Visual Studio with ReSharper (of course). When I saw that hitting ALT+F7 (find usages) on a setter method will show me the spot in the spring config xml where that value was set declaratively, I almost cried with joy.

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