So, Java is the language that your team probably uses. Eclipse is the code editor that many teams used, sometimes also called an IDE. Java’s not the easiest language, but it’s an alright choice for starting out.
> I hope to learn Eclipse fairly quickly. How long would it take to learn the basics?
Eclipse the IDE is easy to learn, it’s a fairly simple GUI. Assuming you’re talking about Java, though, probably a good six or ten hours of work and experimentation to familiarize yourself.
> What is the hardest part of Eclipse, if anybody knows?
Once again assuming you mean Java, probably the hardest part is going to be wrapping your head around the object orientation paradigm. Java is what’s known as an object oriented language. That means that pretty much everything is represented as some sort of object, each of which can have their own properties and different actions they can take. This can be pretty hard to understand at first, and unfortunately makes up nearly the entirety of robot code (everything’s an object, from motor controllers to the joysticks).
> How much do I really need to know to code for the competition?
That really depends on your team’s level of code. Some teams use a bare bones approach and have little outside of basic joystick-moves-motors code. Some, on the other hand, have sophisticated and complex code involving motion planning and computer vision. And don’t even get me started on 971, haha. As long as you know the general basics-to-intermediates of Java, you should be fine. However, what really takes time to learn is understanding different robot programming paradigms and techniques, such as the command-subsystem paradigm, how to utilize Talon SRX motor controllers, how PID (closed loop control) works, things like that.
Codeacademy’s Java tutorial is pretty solid: https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-java
This is a good resource for learning object oriented concepts: https://www3.ntu.edu.sg/home/ehchua/programming/java/J3a_OOPBasics.html
FIRST has a site that’s good for learning FRC-specific programming: https://wpilib.screenstepslive.com/s/4485/m/13809
One thing you should know is that unless you spend dozens of hours per week on learning code, working on projects, and getting senior students to help you, you should not whatsoever expect to be proficient at coding after a single year on the team, let alone the time before the build season. Most programmers take a good year and a half or so to get even to the level where I’d trust them to program a more intermediate robot themselves, and longer such for things like computer vision and motion profiling. However, after you put the time in, it’s an intensely fun and rewarding subteam that I’ve fallen in love with.
Feel free to ask any more questions or clarification!