John E. Darrow [ resumé | main page ]

Student comments about the Documenting Java and C++ courses

See also the Student comments about the Java Programming courses.

Value to student

  • I liked the fact that you repeatedly drilled us on the information we learned. I will probably retain this information better than from any other class I've taken at Sun. I'm actually surprised to find out how easy it seems to document classes and methods.
  • I liked the direct focus of the class at what writers "really" need to know to doc Java.
  • The exercises were useful and reinforced concepts. I came in knowing nothing about Java or documenting an API and feel like I now can speak intelligently with a programmer and document an API.
  • I liked the concentration on Java pattern recognition without overburdening the student with Java code practices. Was exactly what I needed.
  • I like the fact that it distilled what we need to know to document Java API.
  • All doc people who will be involved in APIs should take it.
  • I liked everything about the course. This was a most enjoyable class. Like a good book--I don't want it to end. Instructor did a very good job!!
  • This is the best class I have taken at UCSC. I liked the teacher's patient explanation to all levels of student. I now know how to write a Java API from source code.
  • My job prospects have definitely been improved. Object- oriented programming knowledge is HOT.
  • I now understand object-oriented thinking and terms. Documenting C++ definitely opens up more job prospects in this valley!
  • I liked the focus on documenting, not programming. This course will help in future projects at work. The course assumes no programming experience (good), but does (and should) assume some tech writing experience, though it's not absolutely necessary.
  • I used the knowledge from this course on the job to get clearer answers from software developers after the first night of class, and I have very little programming experience. It got better from there.
  • I would recommend this course to colleagues if new to C++.
  • I liked its immediate real world application to my job.
  • A background in programming was not needed to understand the course material and the instructor focussed on information directly relevant in the real world.
  • I'd highly recommend the class.
  • The course was directed at the intended audience.
  • Exactly what it said it was and what I needed. I really understand now!
  • Now I understand exactly what our engineers are talking about when they mention "classes," "instantiate," "methods," "Vectors," etc. I liked that there was no homework.
  • What I liked were the materials, the instructor style, and the fact that I learned more in 3 days than I learned in months in other classes!
  • It had an amazing amount of depth for a three-day course. Concepts were explained clearly and simply.
  • This is the second class I've taken with John. These two classes not only prepared me for documenting programs but have convinced me I can learn programming.
  • Exactly what tech writers need to know in looking at Java code. The best tech writing class I've taken!
  • Enjoyed the logical flow of the material, relaxed presentation and how specifically targetted the material was-- just what we had to know--not lots of stuff that is cool engineering but not pertinent. Thanks, John.
  • I feel like I'm walking away with valuable knowledge which will make me better at doing my job.
  • I now feel confident about my ability to read a significant portion of Java code.
  • Good class. Fills a need for documenting I was unable to find elsewhere.
  • I'm actually surprised to find out how easy it seems to document classes and methods.
  • What I liked was the fact that it was well geared to what writers need to know.
  • Relevant information.
  • Worthwhile taking.

For all levels

  • The materials are great: they're not something too technical for me to understand. I always think code is some kind of nightmare, but this class doesn't scare me off!
  • Pace is appropriate for writers with little Java knowledge. Lots of examples, lots of re-emphasis.
  • This course is good for those with little or no programming experience.


  • The manual is very well organized and very helpful for note taking and studying. I initially thought the course should be longer, but now, at the end, I think the rapid immersion is a good structure, especially for a non-techie beginner like me. I am very glad I took this class. I am amazed at how much I have learned and that I feel very encouraged to learn more both about programming Java and documenting Java.
  • I liked the in-class assignments to verify and validate progress, and the homework assigments to expand upon in-class work.
  • Liked the examples and discussion--good group interaction.
  • The exercises were effective.
  • I appreciate that it stayed task oriented and didn't get bogged down in extraneous programming concepts that tech writers don't need to understand. In that respect, it's a very efficient course.
  • I liked the interactive nature of the course--doing in-class exercises, both as a whole class and on own.
  • I liked the chance to see the code and practice documenting it.
  • What I liked most was the repetition. I walked out of class a C++ documenting tech writer.
  • I liked learning pattern recognition, making some sense of the classes.
  • Liked learning how to read C++ code in order to write API documentation.
  • I liked how he stressed pattern recognition.
  • He made it interesting by having us work *lots* of examples in class. It was also a good introduction to Java concepts as well as documentation.
  • Excellent materials for in class and later reference.
  • I like the student notebook.
  • I liked the way the course was organized--from overview to detail ("layering").


  • I liked the exercises that reinforced what was being taught and the light-hearted "you-can-do-this" attitude of the instructor.
  • I liked that all questions were valid and answered.
  • I like the instructor's good humor, willingness to answer questions, review materials, making sure we understand materials.
  • John makes learning fun and easy. The relaxed atmosphere of the class made it a joy to attend.
  • Great examples, encouraging atmosphere, well-established course objectives.
  • I just have to commend you on the class - it was a very positive learning experience. You kept it low key so that it wasn't another stress factor for me. It was really pleasant to go to class. You repeated the important factors as much as possible, so that (I think) people learned a lot subliminally just by being there. Most important to me was the fact that you "kept your audience in mind" - that is, you didn't forget that we all have demanding jobs, so you didn't overwhelm us with homework.
  • Instructor was very friendly, patient and willing to help.
  • I liked the relaxed atmosphere of the class--good instructor.
  • The instructor was both entertaining and effective--it was clear what he expected, and he was very helpful to those with questions/doubts.
  • I appreciate John's effort to make such a lame subject fun and practical. Great white board examples.
  • John pulls for all his students. He makes students comfortable with the material in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Liked the instructor's delight when the material was learned. Liked the instructor's reassurances and encouragement and email homework.
  • I appreciated John's positive attitude, willingness to stop and answer questions and clarify.
  • I liked the instructor's willingness to discuss issues.
  • Fun. Didn't make coding seem threatening at all.
  • Instructor is extremely patient and goes over material as often as needed.
  • Instructor was patient and helpful in trying to help students understand subject matter. Good final.
  • I liked the personal interaction with the instructor.
  • I liked the instructor's humor (made the class interesting) and willingness to answer/encourage questions.
  • Fun atmosphere; instructor put us at ease and was very supportive of our learning. He was responsive to questions, which helped clarify difficult concepts. He has a genuine interest in the course.
  • What I liked most was the humor.
  • Fun; interesting; thorough; useful information.
  • I most enjoyed the real examples; humor of instructor.
  • Instructor was very responsive to questions and homework assignments. Gave thorough explanations.
  • He was exceedingly helpful and patient with beginners such as myself.

Instructor's knowledge, teaching skill

  • Instructor very helpful, has good interaction with class and knows his stuff.
  • Instructor was very knowledgeable about the information!
  • I found John to be a great instructor, patient, thorough, flexible and very knowledgeable. His programming background is very helpful.
  • John was patient and explained complex concepts well without belaboring the programming aspects.
  • I liked the pace and John's diligence in explaining difficult concepts. Great structure for introducing Java and lots more.
  • The instructor is what made the material clear and interesting.
  • The instructor explained things clearly and has a good knowledge of what a technical writer needs to know for basic documentation of C++. The way he prepares information for the students is terrific.
  • The teacher has a comprehensive knowledge of the subject and is an effective communicator. I liked everything.
  • Very effective instructional style, kept moving, but had time for questions.
  • Liked the instructor's presentation style and follow-up communication.
  • Teacher was well organized and informed. Relaxed but moved things along and engaged students effectively.
  • Very clear and concise. The instructor made complex topics easily understood.
  • Highly effective in relating the Java concepts needed for a technical writer.
  • John explained complex ideas clearly and with practical examples. He was able to take the "mystery" out of some technical concepts.
  • John did a great job of focusing the course and moving it along. He kept us busy, focused, and has a comprehensive grasp of the materials and the audience. His sense of humor was enjoyable and appropriate.
  • Great instructor. Give him a raise.
  • It was challenging, packed with information and very well presented. The instructor is very knowledgeable about both documentation requirements and developer practices.
  • Liked exercises and instructor's ability to answer questions.
  • I liked the instructor's ability to make concepts and procedures clear, his ability to respond to questions, and his understanding of the real world work environment.
  • John understands programming in Java and documenting it. It helped that he could field a wide breadth of questions.
Student comments about the Java Programming courses

See also the Student comments about the Doc'g Java and Doc'g C++ courses.

Value to student

  • Good presentation and very effective in suggestions given to basic programmers.
  • Clear, to the point. Exercises and examples very relevant, short. Examples very efficient; didn't get bogged down in unnecessary details.
  • The hands on exercises were very useful in demonstrating concepts introduced in the class.
  • Lots of hands-on, actual programming.
  • A lot of hands-on work. The topics covered give me a good base to start using Java.
  • I liked that it was hands on for a programming class. The only way to really learn is to do. John gave some great examples.
  • Workshops were extremely useful for seeing if we understood the concepts. Like the large time blocks given to get exercise completed, especially if new to object-oriented concepts.
  • I liked that there were lots of exercises and less lecture. Gradually let us research problems on our own.

Instructor's knowledge, teaching skill

  • Very helpful and knowledgable.
  • The instructor was very knowledgable and approachable on the subject matter.
  • He is a great instructor. His teaching style never made me sleep in class. His exercises kept us involved and we learned more doing those exercises. He is great in explaining, pointing out problems and letting the student solve the problem.