I've been learning Java here and there for the past few years from high school classes, but I don't know if I have enough knowledge of programming to actually make something useful. What do you think someone should know to be considered a beginning programmer? I'm just trying to gauge my skill level.

Don't worry so much about knowing the names of different technologies. If I were to ask you to write a program, would you panic? Or would you feel like you knew how to start figuring out what you needed to write?

For me, the most important skill in being a solid beginner is knowing where to look for your answers. If you're coming to a site like this asking how to use a hashmap, you're not even a beginner yet - there are a hundred ways to learn about hashmaps, and all of them involve going out and looking for the answer. Once you've done that enough, you know where to look, and how to understand the explanations you found - then you're a good beginner.

So if I were to ask you to write a program (this happened to me recently) to read certain cells from an Excel spreadsheet, present the values you find there to a user, and write their choice to another location on the spreadsheet - would you have an idea of where to start? It's likely you haven't had to do something like this before, and that's the point - it's not what you know how to do, it's how well you are able to find the information you need.

This article has been dead for over six months. Start a new discussion instead.