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Thread: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

  1. #1
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    Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    Ok guys, so I've been through the language sticky, and I'll be honest - I'm a 0-level, never been kissed newb at programming.

    Basically, I'm a writer who has decided that I want to dive into the world of programming, to see what it's like.

    I've done some very basic things in Visual Basic, Basica, and HTML, but I never got very far in any specific area.

    My GOAL in learning programming would be to understand network security (because it absolutely mystifies me), and to create my own applications (or at least manage the coders I would hire better). I currently manage content writers, and I do so extremely effectively because I understand writing on a fundamental level. I'd love to be able to understand programming in the same way so that I can know when I'm being reasonable and unreasonable, and so that I can look at a project mid-way and have a reasonable understanding on what has to happen next.

    Yes, I expect that to learn this that it will take me quite a bit of time, and fortunately I have the time to invest.

    So, the question is, in order to accomplish these goals, what is the language that I should learn first, that will help me develop good habits and insights.

    Currently I started going through a C tutorial, but after reading through the sticky, I'm wondering if that's the exact wrong way to go?

    Ideally, I'd like to learn a language I can actually use in the real world.

  2. #2

    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    I normally suggest Python for people who are just starting out, but for some reason I have a good feeling about Perl for you. Partially because you self-identify as a writer, but mostly it's just a gut feeling.

    I do think that Learning Perl is the best introductory programming book for self-study, hands down. If you have money to spend on a book, you will not regret the purchase. It takes the reader from no knowledge to some quite useful scripts in a surprisingly short time.

    Perl is pretty easy to get started with and very popular for real-world applications. It's often used for server-side scripting, CGI, that kind of thing, and I think it would be a good starting point for the network security aspect.

    Python is a bit more regular and mathematical, and another excellent choice for a first language should you choose to use it instead.

    Good luck!

    EDIT to add: it should really go without saying that the best language for you depends on many factors, it's impossible for me or anyone to know in advance what is best for you, and any choices you make must be your own. That said, I stand by my original recommendation.
    Last edited by trent.josephsen; December 22nd, 2012 at 12:34 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    first of all, c is a great langauge for networks and is only the wrong way because it is a hard language to learn as ur first one. second i recommend python but i never use have used perl so i cant say that python is a better choice

  4. #4
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    Thank you both for your feedback.

    What are some of the other factors that would help to narrow down which language would be best for me, out of curiosity?

    I will definitely check out Perl and Python, but what makes C so difficult to learn?

  5. #5
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    What are some of the other factors that would help to narrow down which language would be best for me, out of curiosity?
    You mentioned you wanted to learn programming so you could direct a team of programmers you would be hiring.

    Is this team going to be building network-related projects? I think the type of software intended to be built has a lot to do with making a decision like this (and from our end, giving suggestions).
    Kevin Harper
    http://www.kevinharper.com/


    Ubuntu: Because rebooting is ONLY for installing hardware

  6. #6
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    I'd go with Python or Ruby. Both are easy to learn, readable (important if you're managing people, or so I hear), and powerful (though not necessarily fast).

    I personally like Ruby - it's easy to set up, get libraries, learn, and you can do alot with it. Performance is ever improving, and 1.9 is pretty quick for a dynamic language. Python is a great choice because it forces convention, and has alot of the same benefits as Ruby, though doesn't have the same easy set up (Rubygems makes adding libraries stupid simple).

    I started from scratch fairly recently too, learning Ruby, playing with Python, Clojure and OCaml, and although they all have their perks (I especially enjoy OCaml), I keep coming back to Ruby. Everything that requires effort in other languages is trivial in Ruby, and I can build stuff easily.

  7. #7
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by tomokun View Post
    Thank you both for your feedback.

    What are some of the other factors that would help to narrow down which language would be best for me, out of curiosity?

    I will definitely check out Perl and Python, but what makes C so difficult to learn?
    There is nothing difficult about C at all. It's 'low level', meaning it doesn't automatically handle memory, variables must be explicitly declared and all that stuff. But it's a heck of a lot simpler than a lot of other languages and I believe learning a lower level language such as C will make you a better programmer by forcing you to know the nitty grity stuff. All programming languages are difficult until you've learned them properly and C doesn't take as long as other many languages.

  8. #8
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperCamel View Post
    There is nothing difficult about C at all. It's 'low level', meaning it doesn't automatically handle memory, variables must be explicitly declared and all that stuff. But it's a heck of a lot simpler than a lot of other languages and I believe learning a lower level language such as C will make you a better programmer by forcing you to know the nitty grity stuff. All programming languages are difficult until you've learned them properly and C doesn't take as long as other many languages.
    Self-contradiction much?

    My take on this is that people who learn C as their first language are virtually guaranteed to see the trees but not the forest. We have a user here (everyone will know whom I am talking about) who has exactly this problem, keeps on wondering about obscure technicalities (for example about the use of extern) but it is unknown if he ever coded anything meaningful (my guess is no).
    「明後日の夕方には帰ってるからね。」


  9. #9
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    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinharper View Post
    You mentioned you wanted to learn programming so you could direct a team of programmers you would be hiring.

    Is this team going to be building network-related projects? I think the type of software intended to be built has a lot to do with making a decision like this (and from our end, giving suggestions).
    Mainly they'll be building webpages and utility software for internal use. I want to build a project management program that will allow me automatically hire and assign team members based on output, and I'm trying to make it have very visible benchmarks based on performance.

    Let me also add that I also see "app building" in our future, and this would be one of the first areas where I would want to "play".
    Last edited by tomokun; December 22nd, 2012 at 07:57 PM.

  10. #10

    Re: Specifc Questing Regarding Language Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by tomokun View Post
    Mainly they'll be building webpages and utility software for internal use.
    Still sounds like a job for Perl, unless there's some particular other language they will be using. If they will all be working in C#, learn that instead. You don't want to be the guy self-taught in an unrelated language setting goals for and evaluating the rest of the shop. I don't ask my plumber whether the electrician has done a good job.

    I want to build a project management program that will allow me automatically hire and assign team members based on output, and I'm trying to make it have very visible benchmarks based on performance.
    Urgh. You know your own business best, of course, but this sounds like something Dilbert's boss would say.

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