Why learn Python ??

Samuel Walters swalters_usenet at yahoo.com
Mon Jan 12 21:19:59 CET 2004


|Thus Spake Bicho Verde On the now historical date of Mon, 12 Jan 2004
13:05:19 +0000|

> I have now free time and money to do what I want :-)
Go to the Bahamas.  You'll enjoy it more.

[chop]

>       Anyone would help me and give me some hints?

Here's my two cents on which languages to learn, why and in what order.

Python:
Python is probably the best language from which to branch out to other
languages.  If you learn it well, you will have all the major concepts of
programming as part of your mental toolkit.  Luckily, Python's learning
curve is not at all steep, there's a great and wonderful community that
gladly answers questions and helps you through the confusing parts.  As a
bonus, you'll find that it's terribly, dastardly useful.

C:
In my opinion, this is where a student should move next.  At some point or
another, every serious programmer has to dig into some C code.  It's
important to learn C before C++ because many of the conveniences of C++
make one lazy about learning C.  Because of it's vast popularity, you can
often find resources that give algorithms and outlines of processes in C,
and those ideas can then be applied to your language of choice.  Be sure
to investigate linked lists, trees, hashing and memory allocation methods
and other such "not quite basic" constructs in C.  From those, you will
understand a lot more of what goes on behind the scenes in other
languages.

C++:
If you've learned C, It's good to move onto C++ if only for the sake of
completeness.  When I first learned C++, I was completely enamored of it,
but that crush has since died.  It's important in GUI based applications
and gives you a fair grounding in Object Oriented programming.  I strongly
recommend Bruce Eckel's "Thinking in C++" as a guide to the language
*after* you've gotten the basics down.  It is available for free online,
but I'm glad I bought the dead tree version of it.  There is some debate
as to how useful C++ is, but I think it's at least useful enough to take
some time learning well.

Lisp/Scheme:
Lisp and Scheme are two languages that people claim will give you
Jedi-like powers as a programmer.  I'm learning them right now, so I can't
give you advice on why one would learn them.  I'm learning Scheme first,
because there seem to be many more introductory tutorials and a lot of
advice that one should learn Scheme, then move to Common Lisp.  YMMV.  If
you like AI, at some point you will run across Lisp code, so it should be
of particular interest to you.  In short, the consensus is that Lisp, like
milk, does a body good.

It is my philosophy that one should at least learn enough of a lot of
languages that you can at least browse some code without feeling lost. 
Each new language gives you some new ideas that make you better at other
languages.

What follows is the minimum I would suggest you familiarize yourself with.

Sed/Awk/Bash shell Scripting:
Sed, Awk and bash shell scripting get tossed around enough that you should
be able to read them.  Sed and Awk are confusing at first, and take some
measure of work to develop even a minimum competency in.  Don't give up
easily here.  It pays off in the long run.

Perl:
I don't like perl, but you shouldn't judge a language on my opinion of it.
 Perl is very popular and is worthy understanding the basics of.  Even if
you don't like it, learn enough of it to read programs written in it.  It
is a very important language.  Perl is easier to learn once you have
mastered Sed and Awk. (and vice versa) In many ways Perl is a souped up
combination of the two languages that's been imbued with mutant
super-powers.

Java:
Once you have learned C++, it's almost trivial to learn Java.  The hardest
part is keeping separate in your head what applies to C++ and what applies
to Java.  Besides, it's not a bad thing to be able to put on your resume.

C# and .Net:
I fear that C# is just another Microsoft misadventure, but for now it's
worth gaining a cursory knowledge of.  If nothing else, it's a buzzword
compliant way to build your resume.  Though, Microsoft can be a tricky
devil, so think carefully before you bank a career on something they
control.

PHP:
PHP has it's fair share of warts, but reading a couple of books on it
gives you a strong grounding in the issues a dynamic web-based application
faces.

Assembly:
Research carefully, and find a good book on assembly language programming.
Spend some time wrestling with it.  It's hard and confusing.  You may
never again touch a lick of assembly in your life, but you will always be
glad for the knowledge it gave you.  Assembly is more of a long term
project than any of the other languages I've mentioned, so go slow here.

And always remember:

Programming is not a spectator sport.

Close the book often and try to write code from memory.

HTH

Good Luck!

Sam Walters.

-- 
Never forget the halloween documents.
http://www.opensource.org/halloween/
""" Where will Microsoft try to drag you today?
    Do you really want to go there?"""




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