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 Post subject: I'd like to learn a language this summer
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:14 pm 
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A week from now I'll be done with my junior year in high school. I don't have anything specific planned for the summer.

In college I'd like to major in Computer Engineering or Programming, and I think it's about time I started to learn a language.

I skimmed through the "Where to Start" sticky, and I think I want to begin with something like C++ or Java. My question is, where should I begin the learning process? What books should I buy; what tutorials should I read online? What are the best tools for the job?

The closest I've gotten to programming is working with INI files in a music game simulator called Stepmania. These INI files control visuals, animations, sequences of screens, and things like that. Not very in-depth, but it's a start I guess.

Other than your basic a href and img src tags, I know no HTML. Should I learn that before getting into programming languages?

I'm interested in LUA. How hard is that compared to other languages? I'm thinking it's not extremely difficult, because my little brother plays this game called Roblox and uses it a little bit.

Any other tips or advice is greatly appreciated, too!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Both C++ and Java would be great choices. I would suggest that you look at the college you are thinking of attending and seeing what their programming classes use. If you know you are going to have to use Java for example, then you could get a jump start by starting now. Ditel has a good college level book for either language. Java How to Program and C++ How to Program are both great books I used when I was in college. I havent used C++ since '98 so I cant help much with it, but if you want to play with Java I would suggest getting JGrasp or JCreator for writing the programs.


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 Post subject: Re: I'd like to learn a language this summer
PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:10 pm 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000*
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MdX MaxX wrote:
A week from now I'll be done with my junior year in high school. I don't have anything specific planned for the summer.
In college I'd like to major in Computer Engineering or Programming, and I think it's about time I started to learn a language.


I would recommend Java or Python over C++. Both have excellent beginner tutorials that you can Google. Bruce Eckel has excellent free books on both languages. Don't waste your money on a Ditel book. Personally, I feel that beginners become too discouraged with C or C++ due to pointer errors and horrible compiler error messages. Save C/C++ for later.

BTW, you won't major in "Programming" in college. You'll learn how to program in either a Computer Science or Computer Engineering program (mostly in assembly in a CE program). You'll spend most of your time thinking about how computation is performed. This probably doesn't make any sense now, but...

If you can stomach it, I would highly recommend downloading and watching MIT's SICP courses. You'll be exposed to some pretty incredible thinking in those courses... probably far more advanced then what you'll encounter in a regular college CS program... don't get discouraged, you'll be WAY ahead of everyone else even if you only understand a fraction of it.

MdX MaxX wrote:
Other than your basic a href and img src tags, I know no HTML. Should I learn that before getting into programming languages?

You can pick up any HTML that you need to learn as you go.

MdX MaxX wrote:
I'm interested in LUA. How hard is that compared to other languages? I'm thinking it's not extremely difficult, because my little brother plays this game called Roblox and uses it a little bit.

LUA is another good language choice. It is a descendant of Scheme (the language used in SICP) and contains some language features that you'll sometimes wish Java or C++ had available. If you decide to play around with Roblox, post a thread on it... I might screw around with it a bit too. At the very least, it looks like one hell of a good Blocks World environment.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:22 pm 
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tke671 wrote:
I would suggest that you look at the college you are thinking of attending and seeing what their programming classes use.

That isn't a bad idea if you plan on applying to only one college, but truthfully, the "language concepts" are much more important than syntax of a language.

tke671 wrote:
Ditel has a good college level book for either language. Java How to Program and C++ How to Program are both great books I used when I was in college.

Personally, I HATE Ditel books. I always felt like they were teaching people how to create an applet, and not teaching the Java language. YMMV.

tke671 wrote:
I havent used C++ since '98 so I cant help much with it, but if you want to play with Java I would suggest getting JGrasp or JCreator for writing the programs.

I don't think that a rank beginner will benefit from a full-fledged IDE, nor do I think that he should have to pay for one.

NetBeans and BlueJ are better choices for a newbie.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 12:18 pm 
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Thanks for the advice! I'll check out that Bruce Eckel book.

So, an IDE is pretty much an all-in-one package for writing and compiling software? Is using an IDE preferred to simply churning out lines of code in Notepad++ or something?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 1:38 pm 
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MdX MaxX wrote:
Thanks for the advice! I'll check out that Bruce Eckel book.

So, an IDE is pretty much an all-in-one package for writing and compiling software? Is using an IDE preferred to simply churning out lines of code in Notepad++ or something?


There's no reason NOT to use an IDE. There are several very good free ones. I haven't written code using a basic text editor in almost 20 years and I can't imagine doing it now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 25, 2010 5:43 pm 
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MdX MaxX wrote:
So, an IDE is pretty much an all-in-one package for writing and compiling software?

Yes. IDE is short for Integrated Development Environment. Typically, an IDE will consist of source code buffers & windows, a debugger, a profiler, a file manager and some sort of system definition facility like Ant for Java or make for C. Often the source code buffers will do useful things like color highlighting, underlining errors and allow you to set break points using a mouse. Of course, this functionality can also be achieved using individual programs.

While most modern developers use some form of an IDE, I've worked on a few projects were the team was doing everything from the command line using vi and cc. They didn't even know how to use gdb or emacs. Pretty lame teams. They did a lot crap in Word though! Long story...

MdX MaxX wrote:
Is using an IDE preferred to simply churning out lines of code in Notepad++ or something?

Yes and no. In order to effectively use an IDE, you still need to understand what is going on beneath the covers. The biggest problem with beginners starting out learning an IDE is the overhead that goes into learning the IDE. Your first priority should be learning the language and problem solving skills. OTOH, most newbies will probably find themselves in a bit over their heads if they had to do everything from the CLI.

Spend some time inside and outside of an IDE. You'll need to be comfortable in either environment. Take advantage of any tutorials available and keep focused on learning how to program. You should learn enough about one or two of the mainstream IDEs to find yourself a job. Of course, when you actually get a job, you will probably find yourself having to learn a different IDE. =)

The biggest problem that IDEs present for working professionals is that it can be a royal PITA to support older projects developed using IDEs (quite a few of which are now extinct). You'll find developers with three or four IDEs on their system because of things like GUI builders or database company X only makes a plugin that works with IDE Y for language version Z. It is just too big a pita to "port" the code to another IDE. Sometimes the IDE helps you enormously and other times it just seems to get in the way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:36 am 
Little Foot
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Gadget wrote:
I don't think that a rank beginner will benefit from a full-fledged IDE, nor do I think that he should have to pay for one.

NetBeans and BlueJ are better choices for a newbie.


Our professor pointed us to Dr Java

I've always wondered about how the many various Java IDEs played together


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:45 pm 
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Eclipse is far and away the most popular IDE for java. For the purposes of a beginner however, the choice is not so critical. Just about any IDE will allow you to type in some code and hit "Run", which is about all you're going to need at first. For very basic coding I also like TextPad, which allows you compile and run code straight from inside the text editor and will display compile errors and program output in a separate window. It also does java syntax highlighting. But once you start adding more than a few classes you're going to want a real IDE to help keep things organized. Again, there's really no reason not to use one.


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 Post subject: Re: I'd like to learn a language this summer
PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:11 pm 
Willamette
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MdX MaxX wrote:
A week from now I'll be done with my junior year in high school. I don't have anything specific planned for the summer.

In college I'd like to major in Computer Engineering or Programming, and I think it's about time I started to learn a language.

I skimmed through the "Where to Start" sticky, and I think I want to begin with something like C++ or Java. My question is, where should I begin the learning process? What books should I buy; what tutorials should I read online? What are the best tools for the job?

The closest I've gotten to programming is working with INI files in a music game simulator called Stepmania. These INI files control visuals, animations, sequences of screens, and things like that. Not very in-depth, but it's a start I guess.

Other than your basic a href and img src tags, I know no HTML. Should I learn that before getting into programming languages?

I'm interested in LUA. How hard is that compared to other languages? I'm thinking it's not extremely difficult, because my little brother plays this game called Roblox and uses it a little bit.

Any other tips or advice is greatly appreciated, too!


I'd personally suggest C++ first, if you want to do basic programming, then Java, since Java is essentially an offshoot of C++ and many of the things you learn in C++ can carry over to Java. You can learn Java first, but it may be more difficult to understand at first, simply because java uses classes and object-oriented programming, whereas you can learn general C++ without having to understand classes and object-oriented programming right off the bat.

Another idea would be to venture into Visual Basic. It's kind of like C++, but this way you could learn to create Windows applications, whereas learning C++ for Windows (Visual C++) can be intimidating to some people, especially if they haven't programmed much, or at all. Visual Basic.net is pretty easy to pick up and you can get the software (the Express edition of Visual Basic.Net 2008) free from Microsoft's website.

As for books, I've liked the "SAMS Teach Yourself" series of books for starters. The "In a Nutshell" books by O'Reilly books are also good, but they are also very detailed and can be a handful at times (the Teach Yourself series gets you started pretty quick without much theory and details as to how things are working, it's to just get you started and familiar with the subject matter).

Overall, I think Visual Basic or C++ is a good start. C++ may take more time, but several languages (such as Java, PHP, etc) are similar to it and what you learn in C++ can help you learn other languages. Once you figure out how programming works, it's pretty easy to learn other languages because it's just a matter of learning syntax at that point ,for the most part.

I've been programming for probably the last 20 years and have learned many languages, but started back in the old DOS days with QBASIC/BASIC-A and moved to Visual Basic for Windows 3.1 and 95, and finally have moved onto more interesting things like web design with HTML, PHP and MySQL, ASP, and Visual Basic.net.

Really you can't go wrong with whatever language you pick. C++ and Visual Basic are probably to two most popular languages people start with, other than HTML for web design, which is somewhat limited in functionality and usefulness in itself. Learning HTML (in my opinion) won't really help you much, simply because HTML itself doesn't offer much of the aspects of a true programming language, such as logic/decision making, input and output to the screen and other devices (printer, etc), and file access. HTML can't do this alone (you need to learn additional languages like PHP and JavaScript [which is sort of like using C/C++] in order to do some of the deicision-making functionality/file access things you'd be able to do in a normal programming language such as C++).

It comes down to this: C++ or visual Basic.net are good starting places for writing computer programs. HTML is good starting place for writing web pages / web applications. Then you can progress in whatever direction you choose.

There really is no right or wrong answer here. It's just what you feel comfortable doing. I personally don't like using Java, and much prefer C++ over anything, but Visual Basic is nice too because you don't have to manually create the user interface with code, since the programming environment does this for you for the most part).

Good luck and a Google search will help you I'm sure in whatever language you choose to use.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:17 pm 
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Definitely go VB.NET! :)

VB.NET is the best programming language there is for making everything except for kernel-mode apps, device drivers, and antivirus applications. You can make games, too... you can use DirectX... you get easy API access... it's a beginner's OOP language... it's supported on Windows and Linux...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:59 pm 
Willamette
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Is VB.NET supported in Linux??? I've not heard of that yet, but then again, I've been out of the application programming loop for almost a year now (moved to web apps / database apps).

VB.NET is a good start, if you're looking to take this further (into a profession or something) C# or Visual C++.Net are key areas, as well as Java. But once you learn C# and/or C++, Java is pretty easy to pick up and learn (at least, it was for me).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:27 pm 
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The compiler isn't the greatest, but since it's a .NET language, you can run it on mono (some limitations apply)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:48 pm 
Willamette
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I just may have to check this out. Is it simply referred to as VB.NET or does it go by another name? additionally, how do you go about installing it??

I thought about creating something like this a long time ago (back when Vb5/VB6 were popular development suites) because I loved the IDE / language, but was really irritated at the Os at the time (which happened to be Windows 98 at the time).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:37 pm 
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cbassett01 wrote:
I just may have to check this out. Is it simply referred to as VB.NET or does it go by another name? additionally, how do you go about installing it??

I thought about creating something like this a long time ago (back when Vb5/VB6 were popular development suites) because I loved the IDE / language, but was really irritated at the Os at the time (which happened to be Windows 98 at the time).


It's a part of Visual Studio, in 2010 it's just "Visual Basic". I personally wouldn't try to use the compiler under Linux, but rather just copy the binaries and run it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:37 pm 
Willamette
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Yay! More world domination by MS...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:30 am 
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cbassett01 wrote:
Yay! More world domination by MS...
:?

FWIW, I haven't been impressed with anything I have seen come out of Sun lately... MS seems to be the only shop that has it's head on straight as far as programming and such is concerned (IMO, of course).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:55 pm 
Willamette
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I agree that MS is probably one of the more "on track" companies as far as programing goes. ever since using VS.NET 2005, I really haven't had too many problems (or complaints) about their development suites.

Now if only MS could get there business practices right, then we'd have the [almost] ideal company. I still think they take advantage of the fact that they still "own" a good portion of the OS market. Their software is getting better, but I'm still a little weary of some of the products they release. I mean, they were doing well until Vista was released, and I think that sort of put Microsoft back a bit because people were concerned about all the problems Vista had introduced so they held onto their old WinXP OSes (and many still do).

Vista introduced us to some key components that an OS should have (and that Linux has always had): such as effective user account control, and better security. I guess what really worries me is all of the security holes that exist in the operating systems, some of which MS can't fix to easily.

As for Win7, haven't had it crack once (yet...) Not too bad...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:54 am 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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CrashTECH wrote:
FWIW, I haven't been impressed with anything I have seen come out of Sun lately... MS seems to be the only shop that has it's head on straight as far as programming and such is concerned (IMO, of course).


FOSS is doing some cool stuff, though PHP's kind of a dying breed nowadays. C#'s making large breakthrough's but even I'm kind of suspicious as to kind of paradigm that MS and the .NET team is going.

Ruby on Rails never gets the recognition it deserves, there's a LOT of RoR projects. I'm interested in RoR as well as Objective-C.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:01 am 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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cbassett01 wrote:
I agree that MS is probably one of the more "on track" companies as far as programing goes. ever since using VS.NET 2005, I really haven't had too many problems (or complaints) about their development suites.


Personally, I like their IDE's better. Netbeans and Eclipse just weren't high on my list of IDE's, XCode's getting better and I'm learning to like it more than Visual Studio.

MS, in the past few years, have made a huge rally in the development world. However, they tried their hands in a few things that were just not in their alley (i.e., ASP.NET MVC). They have an excellent platform in .NET, but working with other MS apps such as Sharepoint makes me want to quit becoming a programmer. I guess there are peeps in MS who still code using MFC/Win32 when they could have designed stuff in .NET. Oh well.

Vista sucked, Windows 7 is cool...but I've been won over by the Church of Jobs and Apple.


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