Stanford University dumps Java as an introductory programming language

It’s pretty much known to anyone in the programming world that Java is one of the hardest languages to learn right off the bat; that is if you’ve never written a line of code in your life. Well, Stanford University agrees, and has decided that to make programming more accessible to its students, something drastic had to be done.

In its latest update to the Programming Methodology course code CS 106J, the University replaced the difficult to master Java language that was present in CS 106A, with the more palatable language JavaScript. Even though to the layman the difference might seem arbitrary just from the namesake; but in reality, this makes programming easier to understand mainly due to the latter having less ‘bloat’ to contend with.

This change was spearheaded by Eric Roberts, an Emeritus Professor, who pioneered the CS 106 series. When he joined the University, programming was still based on Pascal. After Java became a popular language, Stanford enthusiastically transitioned. But according to this Professor, Java is ‘showing its age’, and he has been working on this project for the past five years, writing new textbooks and the like. This move is aimed at completely transition to JavaScript for the CS 106 program because of the fact that according to Roberts, it has become the ‘language of the internet’.

A small example of the difference between the two languages makes it pretty clear that it might be time for a change.

Hello World app built in Java:

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

Now that same app built in JavaScript:

alert(‘Hello, world!’);

Although Java currently holds the top spot when it comes to programming languages, making it easier for students to learn programming will encourage them to acquire these skills. Java is being used to program applications for Android amongst other things, which makes it a requirement when working in the programming field. But this change is mainly there to help students get into the concepts behind programming, instead of drowning them in ‘Public Static Void’ like jargon.

With the digital world becoming more enshrined with our daily lives, having more educated people know how to code will only benefit us in the long run. As for how successful this change in language will be at retaining students in the long haul, remains to be seen.