package com.rcf.greeting;

public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, Java!");

Table of Contents

  1. Why use Java?
    1. Recommended Learning Path
    2. Tools and Installation
    3. Resources
  2. Java 8 Essentials
    1. Introduction
    2. Variables
    3. Objects
    4. Control Flow
    5. Exceptions
    6. Data Collections
    7. Classes
      1. Methods
      2. Interfaces
    8. Inheritance and Polymorphism
    9. Common Java Libraries
    10. Threads
    11. Semaphores
      1. Signaling
      2. Rendezvous
      3. Mutex
      4. Multiplex
      5. Barrier
      6. Two-Phase Barrier
      7. Queue
  3. Java EE
    1. Servlets
    2. MicroServices
    3. Containerizing with Docker
    4. RESTful Services with Jax-RX 2
    5. SOAP Services with Jax-WS
    6. WildFly Application Server
    7. Spring
  4. The Best Parts of Java 8
  5. Build Systems
    1. Maven
    2. Gradle
  6. Handling XML
    1. The Dom4j Library
    2. Loading XML From File
    3. Loading XML From URL
  7. GUIs with JavaFX
  8. Jargon
  9. References

Why use Java?

Java is a powerful Object-Oriented programming language used to create complex, scalable, reliable enterprise applications. The University of Ottawa uses Java and C to teach Operating Systems, Data Structures and Software Engineering. At MNP LLP, I applied Java to extend client WCMS systems built on Spring. Going forward, I will be using Java at my upcoming Summer internship at IBM. While not my most active manual, I expect this page to see tremendous growth in the next few months.

Java is as good a language as any for learning how to program. Typically I recommend JavaScript as you can create more visual, interactive projects right off the bat, and the developer community is more beginner-friendly and geared towards ‘fun’ projects. With Java, you will be able to write Android Applications, web servers and APIs, desktop applications and even games. Unfortunately, most frameworks for Java are quite complex, and will take more effort to learn and apply when compared to frameworks with simpler goals written in Python, Ruby or JavaScript.

So why learn Java at all?

Java, C#, and other enterprise languages scale well. Large collaborative engineering teams require build systems, unit testing, reliable deployments, frameworks that allow an application to be split into microservices, etc. Learning Java is valuable because companies will hire you to write their trusted language, Java.

How should I get started?

For starters, I’d take CodeCademy’s Learn Java course, ignoring the Pro materials. As a complete beginner, the short course provides reasonable introductions to Control Flow, Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures in an interactive format far better than YouTube. After completing the Learn Java course, you could read one of the eighty billion Java tomes, or you could begin some projects and Google your way to a few nice-looking Github repositories, using Jenkov’s Tutorials and Java for Beginners as references. I recommend spending some time to learn these supplemental skills:

Tools and Installation

  1. Install a text editor or IDE.
    1. Beginners should use a bare text editor to understand the language.
    2. For projects of scale, use Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA.
  2. Install the JDK.
  3. Add the JDK’s bin to your PATH if on Windows.


  1. Oracle Java Material (also Java EE)
  2. Java-T-Point has a broad set of material on Java and Spring.
  3. Plenty of examples on Mkyong
  4. SpringBoot docs
  5. TechBeamers articles
  6. Project Suggestions

Java 8 Essentials


Work began on Java in 1991, with the goal of creating a “write once, run anywhere” programming language. Heavy focus on stability and security. Java is interpreted, threaded, dynamic, and object-oriented. Source code is compiled to cross-platform bytecode instead of machine language. Unlike Java’s main competitor (at the time,) C++, it only needs to be compiled once; the JVM and core runtime will handle all low-level operations. Memory access is managed in the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). C++ has explicit memory management, which is easier to mishandle.

All code is defined in classes with a .java extension. Commands javac and java compile and run a Java application.

// Package declaration.
package com.rcf.example;

// Class declaration.
public class Main {
    // Classic PSVM ( public static main void )
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        // Print a simple message to standard output.
        System.out.println("Hello, Java!");

Package is a global, unique string to ensure global unique identifiers. Conventionally, package names are based on the domain name for the project, so becomes

Identifiers are names used to encapsulate classes, methods, fields, variables and other names. They must start with an alpha character or underscore, cannot be keywords, and are case sensitive.

// Constants are static and final.
public static final String CONST = "Hello?";

Every programming language has slightly different critical syntax rules. Read Java’s official set of code conventions here

Like in C#, memory for objects is allocated automatically. Small objects are stored in faster stack memory. Larger complex objects are stored in heap memory. You can explicitly dereference variables by setting them to null. The Garbage collector gets its own thread. To manage memory:


Small bits of data are stored in variables. When creating a variable, the type of data you are storing can be specified, along with the scope and mutability. Scope determines where the variable can be accessed, and mutability determines when. In most cases, the set of braces you are operating within {} defines the current scope.

// Initialize a string as variable s
String s = "Fantastic";

// Initialize an int as private
private int x = 2;

// Initialize a bool as static and final
static final boolean a = true;

After writing these, both variables will be available for use in the current scope. String and int are types, with different associated methods and operations. The integer uses the access modifier private, ensuring the variable cannot be manipulated from outside the class. A static variable or method belongs to the class rather than an instance of an object, and can be invoked without instantiating an instance of an object. It is shared with all instances of a class. final ensures the variable is only initialized once, and is useful for declaring variables that should never be modified. Here are some more modifiers:

Modifier The variable is…
none visible to the package, associated with an instance of the class.
public visible to the program.
private only accessible within the class.
protected visible to current package and subclasses.
static associated with the class, rather than an instance of the class.
final immutable and cannot be modified.


Objects are collections of variables and methods. Java has a massive collection of built-in objects available for use, and in addition to these, you can create your own object blueprints, called classes, to group your data and operations together. Objects are the soul of object oriented programming, a paradigm wherein data and procedures are organized into objects, which can interact with each other and be manipulated.

PlanetDestroyer deathStar = new PlanetDestroyer("v1");

Here, we instantiate a PlanetDestroyer object named deathStar, and use the method zap to destroy a planet. zap is a method that would be written within the PlanetDestroyer class, allowing it to be called here.

Control Flow

if( something ){


    // Something risky
}catch(OhNoACommonMistake e){
    // Clean up mess

Data Collections

int a[] = new int[2];


package com.rcf.example;

public class Printer {
    public static void log(String x){
package com.rcf.example;

public class Main {

    private static Printer p = new Printer();

    public static void main(String[] args) {
	    // write your code here
        System.out.println("Hello, Java!");
        p.log("I still remember some Java.");
        // ...and I forgot how nice it was.
        // ...and how awful and stubborn it was.



Inheritance and Polymorphism

package com.rcf.example;

public class Printer2 extends Printer {
    public static void doublelog(String x){

Common Java Libraries



Multiprocessing enables computers to execute multiple programs across multiple cores simultaneously. In Java, a thread can be implemented by extending the Thread class.

public class ProcessRow extends Thread{
    public void run() {
        // Thread operations.

Instantiating an object x that extends Thread and calling x.start() will, unsurprisingly, start the thread. Do not call .run(). See the Jenkov page on threads for alternative implementations using the Runnable interface and anonymous classes.


A Semaphore is a data structure used to address synchronization problems. It can be used in a variety of patterns. Essentially, a semaphore is a number that can be incremented or decremented, but not read, and the value of the semaphore dictates if a thread can continue operating, or must wait. The rules are well defined in the Little Book of Semaphores1 (This numbered list of rules is copied from the text.):

  1. When you create the semaphore, you can initialize its value to any integer, but after that the only operations you are allowed to perform are increment (increase by one) and decrement (decrease by one). You cannot read the current value of the semaphore.
  2. When a thread decrements the semaphore, if the result is negative, the thread blocks itself and cannot continue until another thread increments the semaphore.
  3. When a thread increments the semaphore, if there are other threads waiting, one of the waiting threads gets unblocked.

A basic implementation of a semaphore in Java appears as follows, utilizing the built-in Thread library for wait() and notify() to stop and start the threads.

class Semaphore{
    private int count;

    public Semaphore( int count ){
        this.count = count;
    synchronized public void wait() 
    throws InterruptedException{
        if( count < 0 ) wait();
    synchronized public void signal() 
    throws InterruptedException{

Wait and signal are used in a number of different ways. At this point, it is best to discuss some common patterns to show how semaphores work, and when to apply them. In the subsections below, threads are labeled A, B, C... N, and Semaphores are sx, sy, sz... n or sa, sb, sc when created to deal with a specific thread.


When thread A requires thread B to complete an action before it can continue, it must wait until thread B sends a signal. This ensures that A will never dostuff() before B does.

Semaphore sx = new Semaphore(1);

/*  Thread A  */

/*  Thread B  */


When thread A and B need to wait for each other, and cannot continue to execute until both finish certain commands. Neither thread can proceed until they reach a given point. To implement this, ensure each thread signals as it arrives, and is placed into the thread queue as count is below zero. The second thread to signal() will call wait() on the first thread, which will call wait() on the second thread, and both can continue to dostuff2(), though the order is not guaranteed.

// Tracks if A is ready.
Semaphore saReady = new Semaphore(0);

// Tracks if B is ready.
Semaphore sbReady = new Semaphore(0);

/*  Thread A  */

/*  Thread B  */


Short for Mutual Exclusion, ensures only one thread can execute the code in a crital section concurrently. A very large number of threads can operate concurrently using this model, and it is guaranteed that only one will ever doCriticalStuff() at any given moment.

Semaphore sx = new Semaphore(1);

/*  Thread N  */


The Multiplex pattern allows a set number of threads to enter a critical path concurrently. This pattern is identical to the Mutex pattern, but the Semaphore is instatiated with value n as count, where n is the thread limit.

Semaphore sx = new Semaphore(n);

/*  Thread N  */


An n-threaded generalization of the Rendezvous pattern. All threads will be blocked until the nth thread arrives, and then all can continue simultaneously. The solution incorporates a turnstile where the semaphore is rapidly decremented, then incremented, allowing each thread to pass through after the nth thread arrives. Unfortunately, this barrier pattern can only be used once as the turnstile does not reset itself.

// Mutex used to update the thread count.
Semaphore mutex = new Semaphore(1);
int count = 0;

// Barrier used to count incoming threads.
Semaphore barrier = new Semaphore(0); // Init as locked.

/*  Thread N  */

    // Makes the barrier one to enable turnstile.
    if( count == n ) barrier.signal();

    // Turnstile occurs.


Two-Phase Barrier

Threads wait before and after executing the critical section, in order to ensure no threads lap the others. Only one barrier is open at a time. When count reaches n, barrierB is locked and barrierA is opened, and vice versa. Locking/unlocking the barriers involves incrementing the semaphore once so it can turnstile when all the threads arrive.

// Mutex used to update the thread count.
Semaphore mutex = new Semaphore(1);
int count = 0;

// Barrier used to count incoming threads.
Semaphore barrierA = new Semaphore(0); // Init as locked.
Semaphore barrierB = new Semaphore(1); // Init as open.

/*  Thread N  */
        if( count == n ){


    doStuff(); // Critical point.
        if( count == 0 ){


A queue ensures threads of different types proceeed in pairs.

Semaphore typeX = new Semaphore(0);
Semaphore typeY = new Semaphore(0);

/*  Thread A of type X  */

/*  Thread B of type Y  */

Java EE

EE stands for Enterprise Edition, whereas the OpenJDK and Java SE implementations are Standard Edition. The difference seems to be in the use case. Java SE is composed of the SE API, including all your favourite data structures, networking, security, database tools, and GUI kit. The EE edition extends SE by including an API and runtime environment for “large-scale, multi-tiered, scalabe, reliable and secure network applications”.2

EE docs can be found at

EE API docs at

Installation help at

Do note that IntelliJ IDEA’s free version does not support Java EE development.


What is a servlet? A small program that responds to web requests - many of them may run simultaneously to handle different types of requests within a web server. A good rundown is provided at JavaTPoint.


A Microservice is simply a function that your request must perform before providing a response, broken out into an independent application. As this article on the Gravitational Blog muses, it’s no different from a typical Rails/Node/Spring application.

Java EE is a maintainable industry standard, with most projects having no external dependencies and thin deployment artifacts.3


This Maven dependency contains the Java EE 8 API, and can be packed into a thin WAR and thrown into a Docker container. The following APIs are common in microservices:

JSR 370 JAX-RS REST API library
JSR 367 JSON-B Convert JSON to/from Java objects
JSR 374 JSON-P Java API for JSON Processing

Containerizing with Docker

RESTful Services with Jax-RX 2

Representational State Transfer utilizes a stateless communication protocol and web standards to present a standardized interface for applications to retrieve data. WildFly utilizes RESTEasy, an implementation of Jax-RX. The following interfaces should be programmed for data access:

Jax-RX provides @ methods for all of the above, and decorators to apply on Java Objects:

Decorator Usage
@Path Defines a resource.
@PathParam Parses URI path for parameters.
@QueryParam Parses URI query for parameters.
@Consumes Specifies MIME type of input. @Produces for output.
@Provider Extends runtime using entity, context, or exception provider classes.
@ApplicationPath Defines URI to redirect for processing.

SOAP Services with Jax-WS

Simple Object Access Protocol

WildFly Application Server

WildFly is an application runtime. While learning about Java EE, I found some excellent articles on utilizing version 13-Final, so this is what I’ve used as a base for most of my projects. To install, go to and download the Full/Web Distribution package. Unzip this into your program files, and run the add-user script. After a user has been added, you will be able to execute the standalone script and see the HAL user console at http://localhost:9990


Here is a good article on a small & practical microservice written with Wildfly Swarm.


Spring is a framework for simplifying the construction of enterprise-scale web applications.

The Best Parts of Java 8


Build Systems


Maven is a tool for building and managing Java projects. It plays very well with unit tests and CI systems like Travis CI. A good tutorial for beginners is available here.

mvn package



Handling XML


The Dom4j Library

In production, my current internship uses objects and methods from to load and process XML documents. For more information about XML and XPath, please refer to

Loading XML From File


Loading XML From URL


GUIs with JavaFX

See hello_world and get_started guides. IDEs like IntelliJ IDEA and Eclipse have built-in systems for assembling JavaFX GUIs.


Word Plain English
POJO Plain old Java Object
Declare To initialize without a value, ex. int a;
Define Synonymous with Initialize.
Initialize To include data or fill a method body after declaration.
Instantiate To use a defined class to create an object.


  1. Little Book of Semaphores more info needed. 

  2. Oracle’s Java EE documentation. 

  3. Mario-Leander Remier, Building Web Services with Java EE 8 LinkedIn Learning

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