Learning to Code

Two perspectives on learning to code these days:
  • Salon.com, Why Johnny Can't Code - argues that machines should still ship with an interactive BASIC environment
  • Rafe Colburn, The Golden Age for Wannabe Programmers - argues that Web Browsers + View Source (for learning HTML/CSS/JS) + a Text Editor are all you need, and that interactive Python and Ruby environments are there if you wanna go deeper
I agree with both, as I used to hack around on a TI hooked up to the television in our living room when I was little, and it was loads of fun! For hacking around with Python today, this book is the place to start.

At 9/19/2006 10:32 PM, Pete said...

Good book from my professor and his pals: How to Design Programs. It's in Scheme. Learning Scheme makes you a better person (just ask Neal Stephenson); it has a beauty that I think you'd appreciate.

Still, best thing to do is find a problem to solve and try to solve it w/ code. That's the best way to learn. (Problems like, "How do I get the NY Times crossword printed every morning?")

Not that I'd recommend AppleScript as a learning tool, though, because underneath its English-like grammer is a ridiculously pedantic and poorly documented interior. Maybe that's just my experience, though, since I've heard that creative and graphicsy people do good workflow things with it.

Programming against web APIs can be great because someone else is giving you interesting data (a rarity in learn-to-program exercises) and doing a lot of heavy lifting of computation and storage. You get to play around in the icing. Think about something awesome you could do with your del.icio.us data and hammer it out in JavaScript or Python. Plus there's usually a good deal of sample code to modify.

At 9/24/2006 12:43 PM, Eric said...

Thanks Pete! You're absolutely right - I've got some fun 'learning' projects in the works, involving Python, Django and the Maps API. :)



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