[H-GEN] Programing

Ben Fowler fowlerb at optushome.com.au
Sat Jul 29 23:17:47 EDT 2000

On Sun, Jul 30, 2000 at 12:19:19PM +1000, Simon Robertson wrote:
> With a lot of you gentlemen being associated with universities and also
> just maybe knowing, I was wondering if you could give me a hand, with
> sending some information. Any programing; web sites, mailing lists,
> courses, books, magazines, downloads or online documentation would be
> greatly appreciated.

Since I'm just a newbie myself, I'll do my best to answer this question :)

As with any complex skill, it's usually easier to learn programming properly
if you have it taught to you, like at TAFE or at a university.

Speaking for myself, I was largely self-taught, and I learnt a great deal from
library books, magazines, and lots of time in front of a computer.  However,
I only learned "disciplined" software development at university.  Believe me,
theres a *lot* of stuff that's difficult and boring to teach yourself, that's
a lot more easily assimilated when studying it in an academic setting.

You should bear in mind that only a small part of what you actually learn
as a trainee programmer are the actual languages and tools you use.  There's
a large body of knowlege and wisdom that you need to know to be an effective
programmer that is completely independant of the language you're using: knowing
how to _code_ in C is one thing; knowing how to _build quality software_ is
quite another.

As for resources for learning to program, the Web is a good starting point.
Also, depending on what language you plan to start with, it's a good idea
to pick up one or two reference books and take it from there.  For instance,
if you were to look into programming in C, you'd want to get a copy of
"The C Programming Language" by Kernighan and Ritchie; or for Perl, you'd
get the O'reilly's Camel Book (you can't miss it; it has a camel on the front).

For magazines and journals, I reckon you can't go past "Software Development"
and "Dr. Dobbs Journal".  DDJ is especially good, but it's at least eight
bucks a copy last time I checked.

If you're looking for a language to start with, I'd personally recommend 
learning Java or Python.  They are relatively modern languages, and have some
very nice features.  You should also look into C, which a lot of people seem to
cut their teeth on nowadays.  From personal experience, I'd recommend steering
clear of anything with BASIC in it, or very-GUI development tools (Delphi
and Visual BASIC); it gets far too easy to spend time messing with the user 
interface, when you should be working on the hard stuff (like the code 
_behind_ the user interface).

I hope all this helps.  Good luck! :)

- warmest regards,


  Ben Fowler   email: <fowlerb at optushome.com.au>  pgp/gpg key id: FFDE6AF7
               vanity web page: <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~zuul/>
 "All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance."
                                                                  -- anon.
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