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Author Topic: What's the Best Programming Language For...  (Read 3943 times)
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« on: January 27, 2009, 08:17:21 AM »

Hi guys.

I know nothing about programming.  It's something I've always wanted to get into & at the moment I have 2 areas of interest.

For fun I'd like to get into modifying Windows, particularly Explorer.  Sort of like QTTabBar: http://qttabbar.wikidot.com/
I notice that this application requires the .NET Framework.  I'm not sure if that is a language itself.

But for a higher priority serious endeavour I'd like to create a website similar to eBay in a lot of ways.  But I don't know anything about webdesign.  I don't even have a blog!

It's getting the ball rolling that is usually the hard part for me.  I'd appreciate any kicks in the right direction.

Thanks for looking.
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2009, 09:14:43 AM »

To your credit, you have ambitious goals! Thmbsup

To do something like eBay, you would need a working knowledge of:

0. Basic web design concepts and standards

1. HTML & CSS for the actual web page construction

2. A scripting language, such as Python, PHP, or Java to tie it all together, and provide various features and interactive options.

3. An SQL-type (i.e. Structured Query Language) database, such as MySQL or PostgreSQL

4. A good overall understanding of how a web server such as Apache, lighthttpd or IIS works on a basic technical level.


I'd suggest a two-prong approach to start off.

First, get a basic programming editor (I happen to like the free Notepad++) and a book on HTML. Once you have that, start getting familiar with HTML syntax and coding by creating your first basic webpages.

Once you have a grip on how to build a basic webpage, start to learn about CSS (i.e. Cascading Style Sheets). You don't have to know HTML inside out before you start learning CSS. In some ways, it's better to study them both simultaneously once you can code a basic webpage.

After you're comfortable with building HTML/CSS webpages, you can start taking a look at the various scripting languages. I'd suggest Python as the most beginner oriented language with the cleanest syntax. But not everybody would agree with my opinion so also take a look at PHP, Java, Ruby, and possibly Perl.

By the time you reach this stage you'll have a pretty good idea of where you want to go and what you need to do to get there. At this point you'll be setting up your own test webserver and really starting to do serious web development.


Start small and slowly. If you try to learn about too much all at once you'll just wind up getting frustrated. The same goes for if you hop around, trying this and that, but not really mastering anything.

Learn HTML & CSS. Then pick a single scripting language and get good at it before you start branching out. There are a ton of languages, development tools, and frameworks for web development. It's easy to get lost in all that's available unless you stay focused.

Hit the basics hard. Many times, the things that seem the most obscure and difficult to grasp turn out to be incredibly powerful and useful once you finally nail them down. Make sure you nail them every chance you get.

Don't fall in love with anything. Programming languages come and go. How we use the web is constantly evolving. Details will vary, but the basics will always remain the same. Once you learn how one markup language (i.e HTML) works, you have an understanding of how they all work. Once you learn one scripting language, you can apply that knowledge to mastering other languages more quickly and efficiently.

And finally, when it comes to learning technical things, the single most important ingredient is a large can of butt-glue. The only way it works is if you put the time into it. So "apply butt to seat" and do it if you're serious. This was a lesson I learned early in my computer career. There is no substitute for putting in the time.

Hope this was helpful.


Don't you see? It's turtles all the way down!
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2009, 12:16:14 PM »

Choosing the language is only the smallest of the technical aspects. Far more important is developing an understanding of
  • Scalability - how to handle large numbers of users concurrently
  • Security - how to keep data private, avoid hackers
  • Maintainability - how to release updates and bugfixes with minimal impact on users

I don't mean to be a wet blanket, but my "day job" is managing a team responsible for a set of ecommerce sites. I hardly have the opportunity to write any code myself anymore. Most of my time is tied up handling and planning for the three issues above.

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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2009, 04:16:23 PM »

Not completely on-topic, but here's an interesting article from an extremely interesting blog:

A scripter at heart

It explains the difference between what Jeff Atwood sees as "programming" languages (e.g. C) and "scripting" languages (e.g. Python).

Personally, I started with C++ (after 15 years away from development after learning Pascal at school) and really struggled with it.  It was only when I started using python that I learnt how fun programming could be.  Python is a good language for keeping you away from the low-level details (although I'm sure that a lot of programmers would say that this is a bad thing).  If you're just starting out, Python is a good choice (although I'll admit a bias).

I learnt mostly through this free ebook, but really started learning via mouser's fantastic programming school and an always-on connection to Google Grin.

In terms of web development, Google use a lot of python in the back-end (a lot of Youtube is written in python - as quoted by the creator of python) and there are a number of web frameworks (e.g. Django).
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2009, 07:12:57 PM »

For messing around with Windows controls AutoIt3 may be a good place to start. It's free and scripts can be compiled into an .exe file from the explorer context menu. Plus the syntax is straight forward.  You may want to try out a few different programming languages before you install a large IDE.  This site has lists of free compilers, interpreters and IDEs:
The Free Country

I won't give any advice on web programming.  If you look at my site you'll see that I learned just enough html and css to put text and images on blocks of color.  Really minimalist.  smiley

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 - Groucho Marx

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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2009, 12:59:54 PM »

I can suggest you to spend few monthes to learn more about different languages. And then you'll be able to make a decision which language is most suitable for your needs.
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2009, 05:53:01 PM »

If you've never done any programming, I would recommend that you start with either Python or C#.  Both of these are well-supported and relatively easy to learn.  And, both are very well-supported and there is a wealth of online tutorials for them.  If you decide to pursue C#, I have some tutorials here at DC, and would be glad to help you get started.

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