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Last post Author Topic: Best programming language to pick up for applications?  (Read 6902 times)

iMark

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Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« on: March 07, 2015, 07:23:07 PM »
Hey guys,
So I want to be able to make applications and auto bots (I want to make software that do some tasks for me without me having to do much, e.g copy and paste this here, take out these sections, then replace this etc... or click here then click here, that sort of thing) while I am also interested in applications which have a GUI and have multiple features.

I currently know the follow languages: HTML,PHP,CSS
I am also experienced and knowledgeable in the following: VB.net/Visual Studio and Java(I made a few games in Java)

I am wondering what would be the best language to learn to do this and where would be the best place to learn it online (in the form of a website,book,audio or video).
I was considering continuing with Java as it is a powerful language which has so much possibilities and is integrated with basically anything. Java is used in many industries such as the phone application industry and gaming industry, a few programs are also made in Java only.

I am also not interested in learning a terminal language as I will most likely never actually have a practical use for it myself. I have considered learning things like C,C++ and C# but i do not know which one to start with, many have recommended to start with C or C++.

Thanks for reading my topic and I look forward to your replies.
-Mark

Jibz

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2015, 03:28:59 AM »
For quickly writing automation tasks like clicking buttons, copy-pasting, etc., you might look into AutoHotkey, which I believe some of the coding snacks on this site are written in (I don't have enough experience with it myself to evaluate it, but the results others get seem quite good). I believe it can be used to create GUI as well.

Edit: Oh, and welcome to the site! :up:

iMark

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2015, 06:52:22 AM »
Thanks for your reply! I will look into it.
What about programming in general? What would be the best to learn for general use, e.g to make stuff here and there.
What language do you code in personally? Also thank you for welcoming me to the forums, I have been browsering for a while and finally decided to join after reading a very lenghy, detailed,honest and mature post from the administrator.

Renegade

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2015, 08:01:33 AM »
I have considered learning things like C,C++ and C# but i do not know which one to start with, many have recommended to start with C or C++.

If you want ease and speed, you want C#.

If you want freedom and power, you want C++.

If you want to wish that you'd instead stabbed yourself in the eye with a plastic funnel and poured a gallon of hydrofluoric acid into your skull, you want C. (C isn't easily replaced in some cases, but if you need to ask about C, then you need to stay away from C.)

Autohotkey is incredibly fast to write in many ways. You can do things in AHK that would take you 5x as long in C# or 10x as long in C++. I've seen guys here post AHK code for problems and it's short, as in very short. I think about how long that would take me in C# or C++, and there's just no comparison.

I don't use AHK, so you should ask around for more info there. I don't know its real limits, or if it has any.

I mainly code in C# because I'm lazy and am only interested in getting the job done, and C# is good enough.

Different languages have different strengths and weaknesses. People will argue forever about this and that, but at the end of the day, the absolute 100% guaranteed #1 best language to use is the one that you are comfortable with and that you can get the job done with. Even if it's Eiffel or Scala or F# or Lisp. :)

Since you already know PHP, VB.NET, and Java, you might want to stick with one of those.

But, since you know VB.NET and Java, I'd say run with C# as you'll feel very much at home and you'll have world class tools at your fingertips for zero effort. Your learning curve there will be near zero as well.

So I want to be able to make applications and auto bots (I want to make software that do some tasks for me without me having to do much, e.g copy and paste this here, take out these sections, then replace this etc... or click here then click here, that sort of thing) while I am also interested in applications which have a GUI and have multiple features.

Check this out:

http://www.codeproject.com/

Absolutely one of the best sites like it out there, if not the best. (I don't know of anything better.)

Just search for what you want to do and it's likely that you'll find something similar or something that does a part of what you want to do. Search specifically though with specific tasks, e.g. "how to pan an image through a view port" or "how to make a browser".

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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

iMark

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2015, 06:25:53 PM »
Thank you for your detailed and to the point reply.

How big are the differences between C# and C++? In terms of how easy to code (and pick up) and power? Would it be better to start with C++ for the extra power? (and what sort of things can C++ do that C# can't? I have seen a few games made with C#, not sure about applications though)

I will most likely go with either C++ or C#, I am choosing not to continue with Java for now as it does not have much application uses. Yes Java can make game applications, applications on mobiles and some  stuff on websites but when it comes to windows desktop applications, I don't really see anyone using Java. I already understand many of the basic concepts of programming from VB and Java (such as loops, if statements, for statements, variables, methods etc).

Regarding the site you introduced me to, it  looks pretty cool, they seem to have nice articles but not much of them are related to what i searched. However by going to the atricles tab, i was able to browser all different types of articles which I found interesting.

I personally use StackoverFlow for asking questions due to the large community. I would normally get a few replies within a few minutes to an hour and they generally get to the point and continue to assist me further if needed.

For learning to code I use W3Schools or CodeCademy. They both let you get straight in to writing code yourself. For Java and Visual Basic I went to a few classes and I learnt them from there.

What would be the best place, book, series etc that would be able to teach me C# or C++? I support the fact that actually going to a class is better and you will be more focused and motivated to learn. However I am not able to do that right now.
I want to learn one of the two listed above and be able to get into making a few games and applications.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to your reply.

mouser

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2015, 06:37:57 PM »
Absent a very strong specific reason to mess with C++, I would strongly advise against it as a first language.  It's more likely to de-motivate you than to motivate you.
C# would be a good choice if you are interested in MS windows desktop apps.

iMark

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2015, 10:25:55 PM »
I see, thank you for your input.
Where would be the best place to learn C# other then taking up a class? Do you recommend any books, series or tutorials that i should see?
Thanks.

mouser

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2015, 10:34:39 PM »
I always advise people to browse books and find a book that speaks to them.  Amazon.com will have tons of them, filter by 4+ star rated books on C# and find one that looks like it matches your style of learning.
Having said that, these days there are some really wonderful online tutorial sites.. Maybe others here can recommend some.


IainB

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2015, 10:35:21 AM »
Experts and beginners alike might be interested in taking a look at this: PWCT- Programming Without Coding Technology: Free Science & Engineering software

MilesAhead

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2015, 11:26:04 AM »
I agree with AHK for the macro stuff you mentioned.. clicking the mouse etc..

For a nice drag and drop form designer and being free C# Express is tough to beat.

If you wanted to try your hand at C++ I would recommend a dialog creation tool
so that you don't get bogged down in the Gui part of VC++.  The tool creates a
resource file that you can load into Visual Studio.  The code skeleton is done
by the tool.  You just add to the switch statement to process buttons or whatever.

But I would look at some source code in the languages you are considering.
I found some things turned me off.  I just didn't think I would like dealing with
certain languages.  One example is Lisp.  Just typing all those parens I think
I'd commit suicide after a couple of hours.  But as Mouser says, see what
grabs you.

One thing I find cool is making applications using more than one exe combining
AutoIt3 and AutoHotkey.  AHK has more powerful hotkeys.  Especially when it
comes to mouse handling.  AutoIt3 can do some things more easily and has
a straightforward syntax.  One example where AutoIt3 can do things simply
is adding icons to buttons in a Gui.  To add the icon from an exe to a button
is one function call.  Also adding tooltips is very easy.  To do the tooltip in
AHK you more or less need to code the event handler yourself.  Not the end
of the world but sometimes I find it cool to code the Gui in AutoIt3 and call
an AHK exe to handle the hotkeys and send the AutoIt3 window a message.
That type of thing.

f0dder

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2015, 05:08:22 AM »
C++ is my favorite language, but I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who doesn't need it. While modern C++ is nice, the language does have a lot of pitfalls, and there's a lot of bad advice and bad code on the internet.

For your purpose of automating stuff, AutoHotkey or AutoIt would probably be the best choices on Windows - they were made for the purpose of automation, and has support for movey-clickey stuff out of the box.

For general-purpose stuff, C# is very, very nice. It's "fast enough", the language has a lot of nice extra that Java misses, there's really no better IDE than Visual Studio, and it's easier to do GUIs in C# than Java (because of available tools and frameworks).
- carpe noctem

Ath

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2015, 05:27:20 AM »
Well, after re-reading the OP, I'd advise to go for AutoIt 3, in favor of AutoHotKey, as the AHK language is quite quirky, compared to the Basic-like and thus (IMHO) readable format of AutoIt 3. I've done a few bigger au3 projects, and at the offstart have looked at ahk, but I couldn't get the grasp of it. Though that may suggest something about my abilities :-[ I think one should feel comfortable with the use of a (programming) language and ahk didn't give me that.

With the tooling provided, it's also rather easy to create a GUI, so that combines it into a win-win tool for automation tools as described. It would be quite a challenge to create anything similar in C#, C, C++, Java or any other general purpose programming language. (as others also said)
 :two:

Innuendo

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2015, 12:03:39 PM »
When fulfilling the requirements for my college degree, I was tasked with choosing a programming language to learn. If I recall correctly, the choices were C++, C#, and Python. Python, while powerful, is (what I call) a scripting language in that it is not compiled so I figured I could easily learn it on my own later.

This left C++ and C#. I scoured the internet looking for opinions. C# sharp truly rocks, but I got the idea it was kind of unto itself. Therefore, I went with C++ because a lot of people mentioned that what you learn there can be easily applied to other programming languages. Some may say C++ is a difficult language, but even though I had only learned BASIC many, many years ago, I took right to it. Put yourself in the right frame of mind and it's like playing with Legos. :)

People in the thread are recommending AHK and AutoIt, but...that doesn't make sense. If you are wishing to make full-blown applications and games from scratch...like your OP sounds like, then you don't want either of those. However, if someone can point me to a first-person shooter written from the ground up in AHK or AutoIt, I'll gladly change my stance.

You know Java. You know Visual Studio. Java is not going away anytime soon. There are worse ways to spend your time than advancing your Java knowledge. However, if you wish to broaden your horizons, C++ is an awesome way to do it. My college instructor would show us the C++ way of doing things & then, just to show a contrast, he'd show us the Java way. It was 90% identical most of the time.

I tell everyone if you learn C++ not only will you be learning a programming language, but you will also learn valuable problem-solving skills you will be able to apply to your everyday life.

MilesAhead

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2015, 06:29:22 PM »
I tell everyone if you learn C++ not only will you be learning a programming language, but you will also learn valuable problem-solving skills you will be able to apply to your everyday life.

When C++ came on the scene I already used C.  So picking up C++ and C# was very natural.  For me the AHK recommendation was for macro stuff.  Some of the stuff trivial in AHK such as detecting mouse clicks didn't work at all using WinAPI calls when I tried them in VC++.  Probably why AHK uses a hook by default.

But I agree it never hurts to know a C based language.  Also a smattering of one assembler flavor can give some perspective.  It helps when debugging for sure.  :)

f0dder

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2015, 01:25:42 PM »
Innuendo: C++ is hard to get right, at least if you are about performance and correctness (and if you don't care about performance, I honestly believe there's better choices available for most purposes). Especially with all the really bad advice and examples around on the net - it might not be as cringeworthy and dangerous as the bad PHP advice, but it's still not easy to learn how to do modern, secure, and performing C++ :)
- carpe noctem

MilesAhead

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2015, 02:37:35 PM »
Innuendo: C++ is hard to get right, at least if you are about performance and correctness (and if you don't care about performance, I honestly believe there's better choices available for most purposes). Especially with all the really bad advice and examples around on the net - it might not be as cringeworthy and dangerous as the bad PHP advice, but it's still not easy to learn how to do modern, secure, and performing C++ :)

The advantage people learning now would have is that OOP is not this new foreign way of thinking about coding.  It's been around a long time.  There has to be a lot more working code to look at.  Back in the day mostly you heard about base classes like "animal"  or "shape" or "vehicle."  It took awhile to see what they were driving at.  :)

Edit: although I don't think it's the easiest to pick up as your first real heavy duty programming language.  I don't know how it would feel to delve into it with no C background.  But then I guess you could limit the facets you used and broaden your reach as you progressed.  Like doing "old C" using the "new C" compiler until you get your feet wet.

« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 02:49:27 PM by MilesAhead »

Innuendo

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2015, 08:15:51 PM »
The advantage people learning now would have is that OOP is not this new foreign way of thinking about coding.

Miles, you are absolutely right. Not is OOP old hat, but it is the preferred, 'modern' way of doing things now. Maybe I'm the odd one out, but when people say C++ is difficult to learn and master, I have to say I found it to be quite easy, but I've got a 'big picture' way of thinking. I can look at a whole and easily break it down into modular components.

To be fair, I'm discovering not everyone thinks in that fashion. As I tackle learning IT project management, I'm finding a lot of people can't 'zoom out' their vision far enough to see how everything is intertwined & I suppose C++ is like that as well.

I guess the takeaway from this post is to choose a programming language that matches how you process thoughts. Everyone processes thoughts differently, no one way more correct than the other.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2015, 01:43:01 AM »
The advantage people learning now would have is that OOP is not this new foreign way of thinking about coding.

Miles, you are absolutely right. Not is OOP old hat, but it is the preferred, 'modern' way of doing things now. Maybe I'm the odd one out, but when people say C++ is difficult to learn and master, I have to say I found it to be quite easy, but I've got a 'big picture' way of thinking. I can look at a whole and easily break it down into modular components.

To be fair, I'm discovering not everyone thinks in that fashion. As I tackle learning IT project management, I'm finding a lot of people can't 'zoom out' their vision far enough to see how everything is intertwined & I suppose C++ is like that as well.

I guess the takeaway from this post is to choose a programming language that matches how you process thoughts. Everyone processes thoughts differently, no one way more correct than the other.

This is going to be a bit of a "leading the witness" type post, but I think it would be useful for the thread since it's targetted at beginners.

First, a slight language nuance change: Something can't quite be "old hat" if it's also the "preferred modern way". Because like in the humor thread, "old hat" is a soft insult. So something described like above becomes something like "the venerable OOP that superseded older styles except in specific cases."

Then as for the "difficult to master", I'll use my outsider's view to suggest the following:

Top level:
Core C-Type concepts that evolved out of original C on down.

"Offspring variants"
A. C++
B. C#

So granted, each of those kept most/some of the core. But then they split for different specialties, that the beginner has to think about for a while as a forest before chopping down trees to build an application out of Lincoln logs.

1. What did each language "decide to evolve to have" (aka the creators did), as specific advantages to address a nuisance that wasn't suitable in original C?
2. What sacrificial tradeoffs did each give up as a lesser of two evils to get there and what were the judgement calls made about why they were less damaging than the advantages gained?
(Basics of old style rational economics.)

Even my uncle who used to do some corp coding back his day rolled his eyes at a few of the mistakes possible in old C!

I saw a useful humorous phrasing about how things evolve / get invented to address needs / markets:

"If you start swearing and using the shift-top of your keyboard, there is a need/market! So go do something, and then maybe it's still raw, but the next stage refines the finesses".



IainB

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2015, 03:47:15 AM »
To as great an extent as possible, the business requirements for the application should drive the approach to the selection of programming tools/languages. It should not be a "technical" IT decision per se, nor driven by vendors peddling a favoured or proprietary approach.

Programmers generally make mistakes, and there is generally no real "best" programming language. So one should seek to avoid coding/logic errors and endeavour to use suitable programming languages for any given case(s) - which was why I pointed to this as a potentially useful tool for automating code generation:
Experts and beginners alike might be interested in taking a look at this: PWCT- Programming Without Coding Technology: Free Science & Engineering software

Generally speaking, for a new application development, I would recommend that one consider selecting an assembler-level language for those components where max. speed was a priority - e.g., (say) for what could be frequently-used callable subroutines where speed and small size (overhead) could be important.

Otherwise, for the core application, a rule-of-thumb would be to use any decent language which is generally well-supported and more widely used - avoid the more obscure or less-used languages and scripting tools.
It's probably also worth considering at least trying to future-proof your application, so that it should be compatible with the more ubiquitous and/or likely forward technologies as possible. If you've ever had to support a core application with an embedded legacy technology component, you would appreciate this point.

Mind you, it probably can only be a good thing if you (say) happen to be the only COBOL programmer available who can support the legacy COBOL code embedded in a core part of a strategically important financial system which has to undergo mandatory development/change to meet some new statutory change or other.   :o
(Some people might say that that this is the sort of thing that occurred recently in a key NZ government software development project, but I couldn't possibly comment.)

Tuxman

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2015, 04:10:39 AM »
I suggest C# if you're looking for Windows-specific GUI applications, C++ for everything else.

(Python if you're brave. Not suitable for low-level development IMO, but nice design.)

TaoPhoenix

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2015, 04:58:14 AM »
To as great an extent as possible, the business requirements for the application should drive the approach to the selection of programming tools/languages. It should not be a "technical" IT decision per se, nor driven by vendors peddling a favoured or proprietary approach.

Iain, I think our two comments pair together.

I went after the idea you have these two languages, so in my "advantages" and "disadvantages" suggested comparison, that includes the intersection of business and technical requirements.

Dilbert is all about when "pointy head business types" want stuff, over the wailing howls of the techs. Techs are occasionally known to drift into something that loses track of what's actually making value for the company. To me the intersection is where a business manager says "I want X because I think X adds value. Tech, you pick which language best produces X without too many time sinks that drag the project into a moldy swamp." The business manager should always be "first" to look for value ... then *very quickly* go consult with tech to make sure to avoid pointy-head blunders.

The main time tech goes first is when the company does a "10% time is yours" type project, which is what pure research does to science. When they're not busy making tires for airplanes, someone drops a beaker on the floor and comes up with silly putty which is useless for the hoped-for airplane tire, but makes a fortune with four year olds (and mothers buying special shampoo to get it out of their child's hair!!)
:Thmbsup:


f0dder

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2015, 05:39:08 AM »
Miles, you are absolutely right. Not is OOP old hat, but it is the preferred, 'modern' way of doing things now. Maybe I'm the odd one out, but when people say C++ is difficult to learn and master, I have to say I found it to be quite easy, but I've got a 'big picture' way of thinking. I can look at a whole and easily break it down into modular components.
I think you're missing my point - you're basically talking about software architcture/design, whereas I'm talking about C++ specifically as a language. Anybody who claims C++ is easy to master is either a demigod, or... *cough* would be surprised at the amount of bugs if he ran a commercial static analyzer on his codebase :)

There's an extreme amount of Undefined Behavior in C++ - it's one of the reasons the compilers can do all those clever tricks and produce blazing fast code, but it also means there's plenty of subtle ways to blow off your feet... which probably will not show up in your compiler warnings, and will only cause problems in some constellation of compiler (and version), other parts of your code, and the phase of the moon. If you want performance, there's also a bunch of not always so obvious things you have to keep in mind.

It's not without good reason the industry has largely moved to Java and C# for the mainstream stuff - it's a mix of choosing the most appropriate language for the domain, and sticking with a language where you wont have team members blowing each others legs off :). As much as I like C++ (especially with the '11 and '14 versions), I wouldn't recommend it unless it specifically makes sense for the domain in question.

Which brings us back to the original post: the first thing iMark mentions is automation. I'd be hard pressed to find something more suitable for that than AutoIt when the platform is Windows - it less red tape and ritual chicken sacrifices for that domain :)

Later he mentions "I am also not interested in learning a terminal language as I will most likely never actually have a practical use for it myself." and "I want to learn one of the two listed above and be able to get into making a few games and applications.". I'd definitely say C# for that... it's much easier & more enjoyable to do GUIs in, there's less language pitfalls, and if you want to play around with game writing... couple it with Unity you have a very capable platform with decent performance, where you can focus on the fun parts instead of getting all the plumbing done.

.5€ :)
- carpe noctem

f0dder

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2015, 05:42:41 AM »
To me the intersection is where a business manager says "I want X because I think X adds value. Tech, you pick which language best produces X without too many time sinks that drag the project into a moldy swamp." The business manager should always be "first" to look for value ... then *very quickly* go consult with tech to make sure to avoid pointy-head blunders.
Amen.

You also do want a bizman with decent tech background, so you don't end up with a primadonna developer who decides that The Project must be built with a New And Exciting stack built on top of Ruby on Rails, which turns out to be unsupported after a half a year, when the primadonna developer has left for greener startup pastures... but this is drifting somewhat from the concerns about choosing a proper language, presumably, for your own personal interests :P
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MilesAhead

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Re: Best programming language to pick up for applications?
« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2015, 05:57:59 AM »
This is about someone with a smattering of experience getting into it in greater depth.  Since the OP has some Visual Studio and seems to be focused on the Windows platform it may be most effective to go with one of those supported by that IDE.  As far as VC++ Gui stuff I hesitate to swim those waters as the C++ produced for the event handling of the Gui is real spaghetti.  So we seem to be left with C#.

If the learning is going to stop at a specific task or 2 then it seems problem solved.  But for a more portable outlook something that exists nearly everywhere, like some C(++) compiler variant, may not be a bad idea.  C# one learns the framework and what can be done with it.  More portable is the standard libraries that come with C++.

For self-immolation, or foot chopping, I recommend using plenty of Lamda expressions and threads.  ;)