Code Play a software blog by tim benke

Programming should be easy

Programming has been a very elitist and oblique field to beginners. Many programmers take great pride in the fact that their language is not easy to learn and that it needs a serious investment to understand. Often they do this secretly while outwardly claiming that they prefer easy to understand and simple code. Bjarne Stroustrup gave a really nice talk about the future of C++ and mentioned this aspect when talking about how efficient code does NOT have to be archaic bit arithmetic magic. He claims that in fact clean object-oriented code runs FASTER than obscure type-less bit arithmetic code.

Photograph of Bjarne Stoustrup

Now if the head poncho of the currently most difficult language used in the industry claims it’s better to have easy and simple than hard and arcane, there really has to be something to it. Contrary to this recent development or at least recent announcement of this truth, it happens all to often that the difficulty of learning a language is made all the more difficult by scarce learning material. It’s an ironic fact that learning a programming language has not changed a lot since the invention of the computer. It goes mostly like this: 1. buy a programming book 2. torture yourself by gulping down hard-to-digest tutorials 3. try some easy examples 4. take a loooong break 5. find a reason to write some real code 6. and then finally very slooowly build up you vocabulary of the language and become better and better. The real problem with this approach is mostly between 1. and 5.. This whole thing could be so much easier if you would be forced to write the code directly and you would not be able to progress until you’ve really written the code.

Well the good news is, that there ARE actually websites available right now, that let you learn in exactly this way. I’ve just completed the beginner’s course in JavaScript. It’s a nicely organized web app giving you access to nice interpreter interface with syntax highlighting and all that asks you to write small programs that are the immediately tested (a small hint of unittesting there, eh?). Moreover there are a bunch of courses that give your more in-depth tutorials on JavaScript function and OOD. There are even courses on HTML/CSS development and Python. I’m recommending this website whole-heartedly for anybody looking for an easy method to learn any of this scripting languages.