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  • A bit off Topic on Programming

    Hey guys,
    I am looking to get started in programming, for fun and possible a job later on. What would be the best route for someone to get started? School? Books?

    Thanks,
    Steve
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  • #2
    I am in school for it but I learn more from books.

    Both is my answer

    But if just for fun, books are more than adequate.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by xanimal
      Hey guys,
      I am looking to get started in programming, for fun and possible a job later on. What would be the best route for someone to get started? School? Books?

      Thanks,
      Steve
      It all depends on your preference as far as learning. Some people are good with books, some will read the same page 50 times and will not know what they just read.

      Pick what you want to learn first, as in what programming interests you. I would personally start with online tutorials and books. Schools is nice if you want to have a pice of paper stating that you know how to program, but if you want to learn to program school is not going to help you.
      Never be afraid to do something yourself. Remember - amateur built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.

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      • #4
        The key to being a good developer is to learn how to develop code and have good coding practices.

        A good BSc Computer Science degree will not focus on teaching you languages, but instead will focus on giving you the the right skills. These skills can then be applied to any language. For example, the first language I learnt at Uni was Miranda. Most would say that's it an useless language, but the key is that it gets you thinking about the way you develope code.

        Skills that I consider that are core and key are:

        - Ability to abstract tasks, splitting into logical sections.
        - Understanding of dependencies, and how to structure code so limit interdependencies
        - Having an ability to understand the code you are writing from all angles. A bad programer will implement the solution, a good programmer will implement the solution and also consider all eventualities.
        - Object Oriented knowledge.

        Once you have a good skill set and are considerring grasping specific languages, you are probably going to want to look at languages such as C++ and Java. These are going to pretty good career wise.

        How to learn a language? Well, everybody has their own personal way that works best. I have found that once you have programming experience, the easiest way to pick up a new language is to look at examples. Armed with a developer guide / syntax reference usually new languages can be picked up pretty quickly.

        Just as an example, in my first job 5 years ago after I graduated, I worked on a project that used 6 different languages. I only knew 1 of the languages (C), the other languages I had to learn as I went along. The principles behind all the languages are the same, and if this is grasped then moving from language to language is pretty easy!
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        • #5
          honestly if you are young... i'd say get a friend who is good at programming... watch how he/she codes, get ideas from there..... I had a friend who i would goto his place frequently and he's be coding 3d engine routines, and a bunch of other things..... I learned alot on how to code and the different technique of coding, by simply watching... Then again I also had been VERY VERY lightly programming since i was like 6-7 years old... but that was very basic stuff... (pun not intended)

          anywho, aside from that, i'd say, find yourself a basic programming language... like Basic, or visual basic... get the idea behind coding going... starting off in a simple language won't scare you away from the whole ASM, C++, c#, java, etc... scene...

          Once you've got that base going, then move upto c++ and java. Those are good languages to have under your belt....

          How to learn it? if you don't have that handy friend, then open up the language of your choice, and start searching the net... Start with a simple hello world program. Something where you can display "hello world" in the language selected. Next, try to mimic a simple program you see on the net... or hey... do like i did, start by making a program that can keep track of your phone numbers... it's something pretty simple which gets you used to useing drop down boxes, combo's textfields, the File system, etc... But it's not overly complex...

          Anywho, i'm babbling on... hehe good luck, if ya got any question, ask!!

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          • #6
            multiplexor's reply is the exact opposite of skippy76's. (and I agree with skippy76 100%... mind you i'm a BCS) You cant 'learn' how to program by watching someone write code, you need to understand what you are doing. Programming is not something you pick up from a single book, it takes time to develop proper techniques for your logic. From taking higher mathematics courses that help you develop logical thinking and algorithms, to working on multiple projects with multiple levels of hierarchies in both software and people -> Thats how you develop proper approaches to programming.

            Biggest misunderstanding about programming is that most people believe that it's learning how to write some 'magic' code that will work flawlessly, fast and never fail! Yes you need knowledge of the tools that will help you use already built components to simplify you own project, etc. But there is no magic code!

            It's like a chess game, if you start blind you are almost guaranteed to run into problems later in the game. A professional programmer/developer will think all of the components out before he starts making the moves, therefore eliminating most bugs to begin with and providing a much better solution.

            So how do you start? Start learning! Pick a languange, buy a good book and start learning more advanced techniques (OOP, Data Management/Organization, etc.)
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            • #7
              keep inmind though i'm taking this from my book of life... in my case i watched and applied the techniques i picked up from my friend who coded for a long time. He knew what to do and showed me logical steps to take when thinking of something in particular that you are about to write... By watching him code (this was in high school, around 14-15 year old time...) I was able to develop the proper techniques. (he was a very good coder by then... using ASM at times...)

              anywho... here i am now, 26, i breezed through college... teachers questionned why I even bothered showing up to classes... I got a 94% in systems development, 96% in CICS development, 90% in COBOL programming, I believe 98% in my visual basic course... can't remember my C marks... etc...

              And all I had started doing on the pc, was watch how someone else coded, how he wrote if statements, asking questions as to why he was using a particular method, etc... I indeed simply watched him code. Then when I got home, I'd mess around with what i saw him do and try to code it myself...

              Not to mention I never ever even bought one programming book... It was all trial and error. Then again, I love programming!

              Before working with a PC back when i got one at like 13... I had a Vic20, which i did very basic coding on... input your name and age and spit out a joke or something...

              I started on gw-basic, QBasic, C for window 3.11, followed by the college courses...
              now i'm programming in Eclipse java all day here at work...

              anywho... like mentionned above, a good programmer is given a problem and can start visualizing possible solutions very quickly. Example, whenever I'm asked a question about adding something to our system, immediately I start thinking about how it will interact with the system. What will get impacted by adding this particular unit of code. Can i make it generic enough that I can re-use this particular class in the future, etc...

              But hey, right now your just starting off... just pick a language and see if you like coding at all... my ex did 2/1.5 years of college in computer science before realising she didn't like it at all...

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              • #8
                programming is rough. My CS class freshman year was around 140 students. By the end after just the intro to C++ course ( teaching you OOP and pointers and such) it was down to 30ish. I graduated with 11. YES 11 OUT OF 140. most people think programming is cake but they just can come to grips why OOP is needed and why they can't just write one big main() function. 80% of the struggle with programming is learning how to program correctly and just how to think outside the box to solve a problem. about the other 20% is just learning the language. If you learn how to program you can pick up any language within a few weeks.

                learn a language like c++ first. you will not regret it. If you poisen yourself with VB or php/perl/python you will regret it if you want to learn a language like C#/java/C++.. thats my 2 cents

                growing up all i wanted to do was program video games.. now i'm a linux sys admin who programs for fun
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                • #9
                  I'm not sure what degrees we are talking about here, but i dont believe in 'learning languages' as courses. If you know how to program, you can do it in any language. (SE's dont flame me!) Obviously every language has its peculiarities, tools, and benefits. And it does take time to learn each one and get comfortable with it. But what you should be learning is the backgroudn behind it, how to develop the algorithms, why is this data management procedure better in this case, etc.

                  Personally, i find that i can be at a very comfortable level with virtually any language out there, just give me a good book and 1-3 days to go over the basic syntax differences. Besides that, it's all logic, and learning how to use that logic properly is what you should be trying to do if you want to succeed as a programmer.
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                  • #10
                    ahh, good ol' basic. those were the days.

                    Yah, my advice would be to get involved at school. I had an apple II with basic on it that I played around with when I was 5 or 6 and then upgraded to qbasic. Played with true basic and then c++ a little. But I missed most of the real concepts. I really agree that the important thing is to understand the structure of the coding, after that, languages aren't hard to pick up. I took the class at school which really forced me to actually learn what was happening, not just play around. That helped me a lot and thus, is my advice
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                    • #11
                      don't take advice from people who don't make money programming

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                      • #12
                        I remembered the Atari 400 with built in BASIC ROM. I was well proud I had 16K of RAM

                        Programming is more of a talent so no matter how much one tries it just wont sink in.

                        I did a degree in real time software engineering (embedded stuff) and a degree in electronic engineering...in which they both teaches high level languages.

                        I dont know if anyone of you experience this...but strangely enough I find it more difficult to code in C than in machine code. I just find theres too much to learn in C and fully understand it. With machine code theres only a few code to learn...I only need to watch out for the flags. When things get complicated I use the good old borland pascal...in DOS

                        The point Im making is...

                        I know alot of poeple hate machine code but the choice of language still depend in the way a person think.

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