[Tutor] New to Programming

Dave Angel davea at ieee.org
Sat Jun 12 12:34:31 CEST 2010

Kaushal Shriyan wrote:
> Hi,
> I am absolutely new to programming language. Dont have any programming
> experience. Can some one guide me please. is python a good start for
> novice.
> Thanks,
> Kaushal
Like nearly all questions, the answer is "it depends."

Mainly, it depends on what your goal is.  In my case, I made my living 
with programming, for many years.  And in the process, learned and used 
about 35 languages, plus a few more for fun.  I wish I had discovered 
Python much earlier, though it couldn't have been my first, since it 
wasn't around.  But it'd have been much better than Fortran was, for 

So tell us about your goals.  Abstract knowledge, console utilities, gui 
development, games, web development, networking communication, ...

Next, you might want to evaluate what you already know.  There are a lot 
of non-programming things that a programmer needs to understand.  If you 
already know many of them, that's a big head start.  If you already know 
how to administer a Linux system, you're already a programmer and didn't 
know it.  If you write complex formulas for Excel, you're a programmer.  
If you already know modus ponens, and understand what a contrapositive 
is, you've got a head start towards logic (neither is a programming 
subject, just a start towards logical thinking).  If you've worked on a 
large document, and kept backups of  incremental versions, so you could 
rework the current version based on earlier ones, that's a plus.  If you 
know why a file's timestamp might change when you copy it from hard disk 
to a USB drive and back again, you've got a head start.  If you know why 
it might have a different timestamp when you look at it six months from 
now without changing it, you've got a head start.

If you're using Windows and never used a command prompt, you have a ways 
to go.  If you don't know what a file really is, or how directories are 
organized, you have a ways to go.  And if you think a computer is 
intelligent, you have a long way to go.

Python is a powerful tool.  But if you're totally new to programming, it 
can also be daunting.  And most people have no idea how easy some 
programs are, nor how hard some other programs are, to build.

In any case, some of the things recommending Python as a first language are:
   1) an interactive interpreter - you can experiment, trivially
   2) very fast turnaround, from the time you make a change, till you 
can see how it works.  This can be true even for large programs
   3) this mailing list


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