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Sunday, 15 April 2012

7 Steps to Learn a Programming Language

  1. Decide what you want to do. Some programming applications with strong Web presence and good materials for beginners are game programming, Web site creation, automation of common tasks ("scripting"), text processing, and scientific problem solving. If you just think programming would be cool to learn and don't have any specific applications in mind, that's okay, but thinking about what you want to program in advance will help you make informed decisions during your learning experience. Also remember that programming can be a frustrating job if you don't pay proper attention or make too many mistakes while writing code.
  2. Choose a programming language. Firstly learn a simple language such as Python. It will teach you a lot.Then move on to C/C++ to understand how exactly programs run and interact. Perl and Java are other popular languages for beginners. Research your target application to learn if there are languages you should definitely know (e.g. SQL for databases) or avoid. Don't be confused by jargon like "object-oriented", "concurrent", or "dynamic"; these all mean things, but you won't be able to understand them until you actually have some programming experience.
  3. Find learning resources. Search the Web for good places to start on the languages mentioned above, and be sure to check the language's home page (if it has one) for an official guide or handbook. Also, find someone who already knows how to program. Online tutorials are nice, but they can be frustrating at times if you can't get answers to specific questions. Sometimes library and videos help a lot.
  4. Start small. You can't expect to write a bestselling 700-page masterpiece if you have no practical writing experience; programming is the same way. Start with basic constructs and write small programs (10 to 30 lines) to test your understanding of the concepts. Stretch yourself, but don't try to run before you can walk.
  5. Put in the time. It takes many hours of practicing problem-solving skills on different types of problems before you can call yourself an expert. Project Euler has many small programming assignments, ranked roughly by difficulty, that are useful for honing your skills and keeping in practice. Also learn making flowcharts.
  6. Keep at it. Programming can be very frustrating, but successfully completing a program can be intensely satisfying and pleasing. Don't give up if you don't understand a concept; programming can be a very abstract thing to learn. When working on a particularly intricate problem, take periodic breaks to let your brain relax and relegate the problem to your subconscious mind. Make a good schedule for working.
  7. Keep learning. Knowing one programming language is good, but knowing four or five is better. Regardless of what language you use most often, having knowledge of others to draw on will make you a better programmer and better able to understand common constructs and problems in the abstract. So learn several programming languages, especially two or three with different design philosophies, such as Lisp, Java, and Perl. But learn each of them properly.

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