[oclug] Easiest and most usefull language to learn?
sandy at storm.ca
Tue Feb 6 14:49:59 EST 2001
Blashy - none - wrote:
> I've asked a similar question in the past at one of the meetings.
> But now I send it to this list.
> I have NO programming experience.
> I would like to see if programming is something I would be intersted in.
> What would be the easiest language to learn AND that is at the same time a
> very usefull language in today's work place?
"Useful in the workplace" is not remarkably important in terms of getting things
done. Any competent programmer can learn almost any new language (perhaps not
something with an idiosyncratic approach like Prolog or APL) in at most a couple
of weeks. That said, the right langiage may be extremely useful on a resume.
You can make a good case for any of the widespread scripting languages -- Perl,
TCL or Python -- especially if they fit into your work. For example, if you're
doing web site admin and there are CGI Perl scripts around, then modifying those
scripts is almost certainly the best place for you to start.
On the other hand, if your site is full of Java programs, start with those. Or if
you're working with databases, learn SQL. If you're mostly working with text,
either learn shell programming and the Unix text manipulation tools -- tr(1),
sed(1), sort(1), uniq(1), awk(1) -- or try automating your text tasks with Perl
If your goal is to understand computers and programming deeply, I'd say start with
the Scheme dialect of LISP. There are many free implementations at:
Scheme is simpler than other dialects of LISP and widely used in teaching.
MIT has a first year course, required for all Engineering or Computer Science
students, that uses Scheme exclusively. The textbook, Sussman et al. "Structure
and Interpretation of Computer Programs" is widely available and excellent.
Many universities use Pascal as the first language taught. Lots of texts are
available for that as well. Wirth's "Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs"
is excellent, not an introduction to programming but perhaps the first book
you should read after an introduction.
Jumping it at the deep end and trying C would be stressful, but not necessairly
disastrous. At least there'd be lots of examples available, since Linux and
most of its utilities are in C. If you do choose this route, Kernighan and Pike
"The Unix Programming Environment" is essential reading.
Whatever you choose, read lots of other peoples' code, and do as much as you
can by taking existing code and modifying it rather than trying to write
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