Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Learning My nth Programming Language

They say that the second programming language is the hardest to learn. That’s mostly because one learns how to program using their first language but each language has its own idiom.  I was lucky in that before I completed my BS degree I had learned enough of at least six programming language to write usable programs. So when at my first professional programming job they handed me a language reference manual and a functional specification and asked me to develop on a new (to me) operating system I got on fairly well.

I continued to learn new programming languages over the following years and have lost count of them all. But having a project, a good reference manual, and usually some good sample code I had a lot of fun learning.

This spring I had to reconnect with Java and learn the Processing system. To be honest I used the code students had written before I took over the class for some of how I learned Processing. Syntax is new but concepts change a lot slower and experience (in this case with XNA) was very helpful. Having a wide range of experience sure does help. And I used Bing a lot

These days I am attempting to learn Python. I have a number of Python books written for beginners. They look great for beginners but for me they just don’t work. There is to much about how to program in general and finding what I need becomes tedious. Programming language documentation has changed over the years. For the most part that’s probably good. For me, well, let’s just say I miss the old dead tree simple language reference manual.

Finding good sample programs for what I want to learn has been a struggle as well. Search engine AIs are not as good as we need them to be yet. What to do? Well, this is were community comes into play. I asked for samples on the Computer Science Educator group on Facebook. Some brief conversations and Lisa Hines, a CS teacher from Canada, shared two wonderful samples that look like they should give me a real start. The Internet sure has made for some great community building for computer science teachers.

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