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Programming Unit
We are going to use the Java programming language for our unit on computer
programming. In order to use Java on your computer (or the lab computer), we need to
download, install, and configure it.
You can download Java for free. Most you already have the JRE (Java Runtime
Environment) installed; this is what allows Java applets to run in a browser. To write
and compile programs, however, we need the JDK (Java Development Kit). You can
download the JDK from There is a separate download for each operating system; choose the
correct one for your machine. Run and install the download.
The default installation folder is, in my opinion, not convenient. So I suggest
directing the installation wizard to install into a new folder: C:\jdk (we will store all the
code we write in C:\java).
Then you will need to change the path. If you don’t know what this means,
don’t worry about it, just follow these instructions.
(Read for tips and
hints in this area.)
On my Windows 7 machine, I change the path in this way. Under the “Start”
button, right-click on “Computer” and select Properties. Choose “Advanced system
settings” on the left. At the bottom, there’s a button called “Environment Variables…”
You should click that. Highlight “Path” in the top window and click the “Edit” button.
At the beginning of the path, add “C:\jdk;” (don’t forget the semi-colon).
We will go over how to navigate in the command window, but there are tips on
the Princeton site linked above.
You will need to use a text editor to write your Java code. You cannot use Word
or any other word processor. You want a bare-bones text editor that doesn’t add
formatting to the text. Notepad (included on each Windows install) is perfect for this,
but I like to use Notepad++ (a free download from