How to get started developing in Java


You can type your source code into any text editor such as Texpad for Windows or TextWrangler for Mac.  Yet in order to convert your Java source code into a program that your computer can understand, you need a Java compiler.  Obtaining a Java compiler is easy and free (although the installation can sometimes be a bit of a pain).  You will need to download the Java Developer’s Kit, Standard Edition. This is familiarly called the Java SE.  The Java SE – contains a Java compiler plus all of the libraries of code that are now part of the Java standard.  We will discuss libraries in lecture. 


What is the Java SE?

The Java SE is a package that includes (among other things) the Java compiler, JVM (Java Virtual Machine), an applet viewer, a debugging tool, and the standard Java class libraries.  If you do not wish to develop Java programs, but only to run them, you do not need the Java SE since you probably already have a copy of the JVM running on your machine.  (For example, the JVM is installed along with all the major browsers and some operating systems). 


Where can I get the Java SE, and which version should I use?

MAC users only need to make sure they have the latest version. This can be done by running software update on your computer. 


Windows users can obtain the software at   Be sure to download the SE (standard edition) Development Kit. You do not need the ‘sample downloads’ or any of the special editions such as FX or EE. When you click the link and are faced with a series of different downloads, choose the ‘Windows x86’ version (as opposed to the x64 version). Then simply install it on your computer as you would any other application.


Which text editor / development environment should I use?

A development environment typically includes a compiler and souped-up text editor to make your coding tasks easier.  There are a number of different programming environments available for you to use in developing your Java programs.  The one I have decided to use for CSC-211 is TextPad ( 


Textpad is not available for the Mac. Mac users can see this page for IDE suggestions.


What is TextPad?

TextPad is a simple but powerful text editor.  It is only available for Windows  It has lots of useful functionality and can be used to write code in anything from Java to C++ to HTML.  To code in Java, it is best to first install the Java SDK (standard development kit), and then install TextPad.  I will discuss this further during the first lecture. 


If you are having problems configuring Textpad, please revisit the lecture and check out the links under the ‘Resources’ page.


One More Suggestion

For this course, your life will be much easier if you put the following things in the same directory.  So for example, create a directory on your computer called ‘Java’ or ‘211’ or something similar.  Then store all of the following inside: