Interview with Dana Nourie, project owner and founder of New2Java at Java.Net
Want to learn about Java and you need a place to go to start learning? What about a project with forums, email list groups, lots of source code, tutorials and people like you and a few experts willing to answer questions. Dana Nourie, a Project Leader and Writer for java.sun.com has a group called New2Java in the Global Education and Learning Community. New2Java is currently the most popular project in the Global Education and Learning Community. I thought it would be a great idea to talk to Dana and find out what her project is about and why it is so popular.
Daniel: First, tell me about yourself and what you do for a living.
Dana: I am a staff technical writer for sun, still learning all I can about Java technologies. I've also been a budding programmer for sometime, and enjoy the Java programming language because of it's wonderful diversity in application, such as being able to use it for desktop applications as well as web applications.
Why did you start the New2Java project?
We have the New to Java Programming Center on java.sun.com, but that is an information outlet for developers new to Java technologies. For the new2java project, I wanted to create a community for these developers where they can get information to get them up and running, but also where they communicate with one another and people more experienced in working with the technologies. So New to Java on java.sun.com is the information source, where as new2java on java.net is the community of people with the common interest of learning Java technologies and putting them to use.
Tell us about the type of content you have for new Java developers.
At this point I have several articles, tutorials, quizzes, and code samples that developers can use to begin learning the Java programming language and various technologies. Soon I'm going to add a dive log application I wrote as a tutorial some time ago with the hope that developers and students will dissect it, add to it, change it, improve it, use it as a communial guienea pig Java project. I also hope that others add their coding projects to new2java so other people can add to it and help improve it. I feel we can all learn more by coding together, critisizing each other's attempts in useful ways, and seeing how others approach the development process.
What kinds of questions to you get asked about by your project members?
So far it's mainly been about where to find information or what specific Java technolgies are used for and requests for more code samples.
Are there active project members adding new content to your site?
Not yet, and that's what I hope will occur soon. That's really what a comminity is about, so I hope to see code sharing. When I add the dive log project, I hope others will be inspired to critisize it, add improvements, and make big changes. If this happens, then I'd like to write articles about the changes made, show examples that demonstrated how the code was orignally and how someone improved the code. This is a dynamic process I feel we, as budding developers, can all learn from.
You have the most members of any other project in the GELC. Any thoughts to why you project is so popular?
Many people want to learn Java and just don't know where to start. Many are coming from C or C++ backgrounds and just need a quick tour, while others are new programmers, and Java technologies is their introduction to the world of application development. I think the articles, tutorials, quizzes, and code samples appeal to everyone in this group.
Now, I hope they come together as a community and share their problems, their solutions, and their insights.
Anything else you would like to say?
I would like to encourage the members to use the forum to have conversations about their programming struggles, and encourage more advanced developers to help these folks resolve the issues. I'd also like to see students post their homework issues. This is an area that is heavily critisized in most forum formats, but I think sharing homework problems can be productive. I don't mean to imply that solutions should just be handed over, but people can encourage others to think about programming problems in new ways and to help the student figure it out. I'd also like to encourage teachers to post challenges or homework that they've used in their classrooms. I think it'd be fun to have a teacher do this, then to have the members crunch the solution right there live in the forum, and have other students say, Yes, but you can also do it this way!
I would like to hear from the new2java members about what their needs are and suggestions about how the new2java project can be used to help them learn. They can email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org), or better yet share their requests with the community by emailing the mailing list: email@example.com