[H-GEN] Programing

Frank Brand fbrand at uq.net.au
Sun Jul 30 07:24:43 EDT 2000

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Martin makes a lot of good points here but to me it is really important to get
into programming and work with programmers. A lot of important techniques are
passed on not actually spelled out in manuals. Working and interacting with a
team or other people you learn a bit from everyone you come across.

The actual programming language you use first is probably not terribly
important as most languaes I have come across tend to use the same
functionality expressed in different ways. Further, as a programmer with a 40
year working life span you will take many different turns and probably use
lotsof different languages. If I was starting now I would probably look at
C/C++ as it is a standard, However, at present, there seems to be a demand for
the web technologies...Java, Perl, DHTML.

Martin Pool wrote:

> > Just where should I start as in Austalia, and with what program/s (one
> > or several)

Well, a University course in Australia might be comprehensive but I think
specialist courses might be much quicker as Uni courses rarely just cover
"programming" but cover a large range of things (no flames from the academics
please). Often user groups can run introductory courses...eg. Brisbug ran
C/C++ courses at one stage, don't know if they still do that. Also various
commercial training organisations can run introductory/intermediate/advanced
courses but these are generally not cheap...often of the order of thousands of
dollars. For example Red Hat had an introductory course in being a Red Hatter
for about $3900 IIRC.

>  * Think of a little program you'd like to build -- perhaps a simple
>    game is a good place to start.  Choose a language: Python or Java
>    would be good, or perhaps C though that'll be a bit harder.

This type of thing usually is built into the general teach youself Foo Bar in
21 Days books etc.

There are thousands of them. "Who's Affraid of C++" by Steve Weller has quite
a different way of doing things (the teaching not the programming).

Also, I really liked "Turbo C++ An Introduction to Computing" (Prentice Hall -
Adams, Leestma and Nyhoff)

There are just heaps of these books. One I did like was a SAMS book on Teach
Yourself Linux Programming by Warren Gay.

> Although formal training is useful, getting it *into your head* is the
> most important thing.

I tend to agree here

> If I were you, I'd start in text mode first to get the basics down:
> the `guess a number' or `what animal am I ' games are classics.  After
> that, you could try web programming in PHP or Python or Perl, or
> perhaps GUI programming in Java/Swing or GTK+.  Any of these are
> approachable and satisfying for the beginner, and point to plenty of
> job opportunities if you want them.

Yep, but in the end you tend to run out of examples to do and it is much
better to be involved in some real project...even as a coffee maker just to
watch and learn. I found a Tom Swan book "Teach Yourself C++ Today" (IDG)
interesting...the book gradually built up a text editor as a series of tasks
in C++. All text based no GUI stuff - well sort of.

Take C++...the fundamentals are pretty simple to master...its how you use them
that really makes a difference. You never know what's going on in C/C++ unless
you know what built in or library functions can do for you...none of the books
teach you much about the 47 million things that can be done with all the
functions in the various bits. You just learn these things from doing or off

> Another approach is to join an existing free project as a kind of
> apprentice, and gradually learn from the existing developers.

Yes I certainly agree but I expect some minimum skill level might be needed
here (comments anyone?).

Thats probably enough for now but thats just my 2cents worth. Others probably
violently disagree and I'm a lousy programmer anyway ;^>

Frank Brand

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