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Ryan Hutchings

Beginner's List of Questions..

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Ryan Hutchings    122
I''m interested in programming but have a few questions that i can''t seem to successfully answer through internet research! any and all help is appreciated. 1) 17, too young to turn to programming as a career? 2) would a degree in computer science, with programming knowledge offer promising career choices? 3) where/how does one go about learning programming, from the VERY beginning? thanks again.

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Agony    3452
1) 17 is without a doubt not too young. You'll probably find lotsa people here who started way back in junior high, or even elementary school. I myself started in 7th grade. I was interested in actually making games, not just playing them, and a Teach Yourself... book caught my eye at a store. My mother was quite concerned that it would be way over my head, but I got her to buy it for me anyway. One of the best $50 investments they ever made for me.

2) I suppose so. I just graduated with a BS last spring, so I don't have a whole lot of experience yet. Jobs are a little difficult to find in some areas, when you're just starting off. Or, it's difficult to find jobs that you think you'd enjoy. Computer Science is a fairly varied industry, so there were a lot of CS jobs that didn't involve much programming, or not the kind of programming I'd prefer, at least. I got lucky, though, and have a job working with DirectX. In regards to the difficulty finding jobs, though, I'll admit that I'm in a pretty dull part of the US. Not much happens here, and employers are definitely not killing each other to find employees. Also, my experience with looking for jobs seems to be that a degree is quite important, but so is experience. It's difficult to find a job that you'd really enjoy with only 0-1 year of job experience. Although I probably wouldn't have been able to find much at all without a degree. Anyway, I seem to be rambling on with this point...

3) You'll probably get many books suggested to you. I don't know any good ones offhand, but just ask others, and they'll tell you of all sorts of good ones. Of course, part of beginning is deciding which language to learn first. I learned Visual Basic first, myself. It worked out pretty well. And as much as I love C++, I wouldn't recommend it as a first language. I guess it's doable, but even after three years of VB, and understanding the basics of programming, C sent me for a loop, and C++ wouldn't have been easier. Plus, it's very nice that with VB, you don't have to do much to get a nice visual interface. That aided in learning very much. Getting interfaces in C++ takes more work. And as for Java, well, I'm neutral on that one. I don't know it overly well, but my experience has been somewhat negative. But, of course, I very likely wasn't giving it a fair evaluation. And of course there're other languages as well. So I'll let you read other's recommendations now...

[Edit - fixed italics tag]

[edited by - Agony on January 23, 2004 10:28:05 AM]

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Sketch    122
quote:
Original post by Agony
3) You''ll probably get many books suggested to you. I don''t know any good ones offhand, but just ask others, and they''ll tell you of all sorts of good ones. Of course, part of beginning is deciding which language to learn first. I learned Visual Basic first, myself. It worked out pretty well. And as much as I love C++, I wouldn''t recommend it as a first language. I guess it''s doable, but even after three years of VB, and understanding the basics of programming, C sent me for a loop, and C++ wouldn''t have been easier. Plus, it''s very nice that with VB, you don''t have to do much to get a nice visual interface. That aided in learning very much. Getting interfaces in C++ takes more work. And as for Java, well, I''m neutral on that one. I don''t know it overly well, but my experience has been somewhat negative. But, of course, I very likely wasn''t giving it a fair evaluation. And of course there''re other languages as well. So I''ll let you read other''s recommendations now...
[Edit - fixed italics tag]
[edited by - Agony on January 23, 2004 10:28:05 AM]


A lot of schools now are using Java as a first language and I, for one, think its a wonderful place to start. But as Agony said, it might be nice to start with VB and get some of the programming concepts down. Don''t get stuck on Basic though, it''d be nice to move straight to Java or C once you get how things work in programming.

The reasons why I think Java is a great first language is that:
1) It''s safe.
2) You learn object-oriented programming early, which is great because when I see people learning C++ and taught OOP later, they have a hard time getting the concept.
3) Good API documentation.
4) Tons of great, free virtual machines out there (to run your code).

The most important thing to learning programming is probably having a good teacher with plenty of experience. Learning straight out of the book can be confusing sometimes, but if you have a personal guide, you''ll progress quite rapidly and consistently. I started programming in 7th grade, but I didn''t learn C++ until the summer before 10th grade. It wouldn''t have worked out if it wasn''t for the help of a good friend of mine who was already proficient at the language.

Anyways, I hope all my ranting will be of some help.

___________________
Sketchworx Studios

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Spudder    385
I agree with starting off with Java to get yourself into the ahbit of OOP programming without any of the hazards of C++, there are plenty of tutorials out there for both languages but heres some free books for Java and C++ which come quie highly recommended by a quite a few members on this board - Bruce Eckels "Thinking In C++/Java" books which can be download from his website

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Unidentified    136
1: It''s not too young to start but definitely not too old.
2: Not sure
3: You can start with C which is an easy first language(started learning it when I was 13) or you can go with some of the ohter languages suggested. If you decide to go with C, C Primer Plus is good and after that you should look at The C Programming Language(The best book I ever read). If you decide to go with C++, you definitely look at Accelerated C++, if you want a free book, Thinking in C++ is good or if you want something easier Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days is good also, both can be found free online legally. I have no experience with Python, but I heard it''s a good start for programming.

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-silencer-    144
1. No age is too young as long as you are good at math and especially logic. I started when I was 18 and I'm one of the better programmers in my classes.. I'm 25 now. The amount of years doesn't mean that much - it's what you've learned in that time that counts.

2. Degrees are pretty much required now if you've got no experience, and you can't go wrong with a college education.

3. The best way to start programming is to do it. Get a GOOD book. I recommend any of the Deitel & Deitel's "How to Program" books - they are out for C, C++, Java, Visual Basic, and a few others.

As far as which language to start learning on.. here's some pro's and con's:

Visual Basic
Pro: easy to learn, fun to see rapid progress in making applications.
Con: $$ - must buy Visual Basic, it's slow, not very similar to C/C++ or Java.

C
Pro: free with GNU's GCC compiler, C++ is derived from C, so learning it is much easier later, fast, most professional games written in C/C++.
Con: Many pitfalls and difficult mistakes to correct can be frustrating for new programmers.

C++
Pro: free with GNU's GCC compiler, start learning OOP from the beginning, fast, most professional games written in C/C++.
Con: Same cons as C.

Java
Pro: free with Sun's Java2 SDK compiler, start learning OOP from the beginning, faster than Visual Basic, similar style to C/C++, interpreted makes it portable.
Con: It's not C/C++.

I started with Visual Basic in 1997 for a couple weeks before switching over to C++. I started taking classes in programming in 2000, but had a firm grasp of C++ and Visual Basic by then. From 2000 to 2003 I learned Java and C, and find myself using C/C++ whenever I can. I've had at least 3 classes in each of C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic in college, and I'd recommend everyone start learning how to program in C if they're serious about it. For someone who just wants to tinker in programming, I'd recommend Visual Basic. For someone who wants to specialize in web development I'd say Java.

If you've got the patience to stick with it even when it can be difficult, but know you want to design games or applications, go with C and learn C++ after you're proficient in C. Don't worry about difficulty in learning a complete language - start with mastering each chapter first. Break the problem of learning the language down into learning each chapter - sounds a lot like making a program - break it down into steps. If you run into trouble with something, post questions in the forums - people love to reply when they know the answer.

Get these two books:
"C How to Program" 4th ed. by Deitel & Deitel
This is more of a college textbook chapters with examples and questions at the end of each chapter - a little expensive ($80-85) but I feel it's the best book to begin learning from.
"The C Programming Language" by Kernighan & Ritchie
This is the C reference book written by the authors of the C language itself. ($40)

When you've gone through both books, working through examples and LEARNING the material, you can move to C++:
"C++ How to Program" 4th ed. by Deitel & Deitel
"The C++ Programming Language" by Stroustrup


Many of my fellow classmates don't know Visual Basic at all (since I learned it on my own then took classes at another college), and those that do really don't program in it much now. I've got an advanced programming problem solving class where we have our choice what language to code in among C/C++ and Java. About 70% of the students choose C/C++ over Java, even though we've had more Java than C/C++ classes at my school and some things like string manipulation are easier to do in Java than C/C++. Some people love Java, some love C/C++, and both have valid reasons for their choices. It all depends on what you want to do.

(silencer)
-- of course I chose C/C++, but don't dislike Java.

[edited by - -silencer- on January 24, 2004 2:11:34 AM]

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rypyr    252
17 is not too young to start...

I do have to ask this though: Why do think you'd want to be a programmer? Have you just thought about it recently?

[edited by - rypyr on January 24, 2004 1:44:51 AM]

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Ryan Hutchings    122
i just recently decided i REALLY did want to work in the video game industry, and since i''m 17 now i figured i should start working at it!! so, when i realized programming was the thing to do, i dove in. I''m really surprised at how well i''m UNDERSTANDING it all. I''m starting with C++, and though i plan to, i haven''t purchased a book so i''m working with an E-Book.

thanks for all the help!

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