So you want to program computers?

Posted: September 1, 2011 in Technology

When I was a young whippersnapper, we (students of programming) would program with BASIC to learn the basics of programming, such as branching conditions, looping conditions, and arrays.  Later, we would move on to something like Pascal, where we could learn structured programming and design through what they called a modular programming language; we would learn concepts like functional decomposition, and top-down design.

This would lead into object-oriented programming smoothly.  Later we could get into pointer arithmatic, algorithms and data-structures using C/C++. In addition to all of this, students would learn Assembly language programming, so they could understand how memory works (stack versus heap) and how the processor works.

This is before the arrival of Java and smart-devices changed everything (another story).   I would prefer that people actually learn to program before jumping into professional tools, as the code out there in the wild is beyond scary.  Nevertheless, for those impatient, I wanted to recommend these tools (for mainstream programming languages) off the top of my mind to grab:

  • Free Tools:
    • Visual Studio Express – Microsoft offers limited versions of development environments for C#, VB.NET, C++, and SQL.  You can develop standalone applications, web-based applications, to mobile phone applications.
    • Eclipse – This is a set of tools with support for Java, Ruby, C++ and other languages.
    • Bloodshed IDE – This is a graphical front-end to free GNU compilers that include C, C++, Objective-C, and Pascal (Delphi).
    • Komodo Edit – This is just a text editor with support for Ruby, PHP, Perl, Python, TCL, and other scripting languages.
    • jEdit – This is a text editor with a huge free market of add-on tools.
    • XCode – For those wealthy enough to afford a Macintosh, or smart enough to have a Hackintosh, can use Apple’s free development kit.
  • Commercial Tools
    • Komodo IDE – robust set of tools with support for Ruby, PHP, Perl, Python, TCL, and other scripting languages.
    • PrimalScript – robust set of tools for developing Windows scripting environments that include JScript and VBScript as well as the new PowerShell environment.
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