"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Programming a computer is almost as easy as using one and does not
require you to be a math genius. People who are good at solving story problems
make good programmers, and others say that artistic or musical talent is a sign
of potential programmer. Various computer languages are described, and tips on
choosing the right language and learning how to use it are provided.
Learning how to program is actually easier than many people think.
Learning to program takes about the same time as two semesters of a college
course. The process of learning to program is uniquely reinforcing, because
students receive immediate feedback on their screens. The programming languages
Basic, Pascal, C, and Database are discussed; tips on learning the languages are
offered; and a list of publishers\' addresses is provided.
One way of programming is rapid application development (RAD) has
tremendous powers, but it is not without its limits. The two basic advantages
RAD tools promise over traditional programming are shorter, more flexible
development cycle and the fact that applications can be developed by a
reasonably sophisticated end user. The main disadvantage is that RAD tools
often require code to be written, which will result in most developers probably
having to learn to program using the underlying programming language, except in
the case of the simplest applications. The time gained from using a RAD tool
can be immense, however: Programmers using IBM\'s VisualAge report the ability
to create up to 80 percent of an application visually, with the last 20 percent
consisting of specialized functions, which means by using and IBM program it is
much easier because most of the program is graphics which is just point and
click to do, and the rest is code, which really isn\'t much.
Anyone who is willing to invest a little time and effort can now write
computer programs and customize commercial applications, thanks to new software
tools. People can create their own application with such programming languages
as Microsoft\'s Visual Basic for Windows (which is about $130) or Novell\'s
AppWare, part of its PerfectOffice suite. These products enable users to do
much of their programming through point-and-click choices without memorizing
many complicated commands.
Programming can also be very difficult. At least one programming
mistake is always made and debugging it can be very hard. Just finding where
the problem is can take a long time alone, then if you fix that problem, another
could occur. There was a programming involving a cancer-therapy machine, has
led to loss of life, and the potential for disaster will increase as huge new
software programs designed to control aircraft and the national air-traffic
control system enter into use. There is currently no licensing or regulation of
computer programmers, a situation that could change as internal and external
pressures for safety mount.
Programming these days is also hard if you don\'t have the right hardware
and software. Limited memory, a lack of programming standards, and hardware
incompatibilities contributed to this problem by making computing confusingly
complicated. Computing does not have to be complicated anymore, however.
Although computer environments still differ in some respects, they look and feel
similar enough to ease the difficulty of moving from one machine to another and
from one application to another. Improved software is helping to resolve
problems of hardware incompatibility. As users spend less time learning about
computers, they can spend more time learning with them.
I would like to learn some of these programming languages. I am
especially interested in learning Borland C++ or Visual C++. Visual Basic is
all right, but I think learning a C language would be much more interesting and
probably more profitable in the future.
1. Business Week April 3, 1995 2. Byte Magazine August 1995 3. Compute
Magazine June 1995 4. Compute Magazine May 1996 5. Newsweek Magazine January
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Software engineering, Computing, Computer programming, Programming languages, Software, Visual Basic, Integrated development environment, Programmer, IBM VisualAge, Computer program, Computer, BASIC
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