7 Replies - 6215 Views - Last Post: 16 August 2011 - 11:02 AM

#1 insanepenguin  Icon User is offline

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Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:30 AM

I hear many people saying you only learn programming by programming and I understand where they are coming from but isn't it also important to read a language well also? I always write out any example code and write my own small examples if I'm struggling to understand a new concept I'm learning. The book I'm working through is about 700 pages I'm hoping when I finish it I can start to write my own programs and really understand more complex tutorials not just calculators etc:D

I am assuming this translates to junior employment positions too, being able to implement code designed by a system architect or senior developer?

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#2 alias120  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:28 AM

I believe that when one spends a lot of time programming, they tend to pick up the correct syntax of the language. I also believe that when one spends a lot of time programming, they tend to pick up on common logical structures. In other words, being able to understand code is in large part a bi-product of writing code. Somtimes what a program does is part of an abstract logical structure that might not necessarily be directly represented by the code. One has to have the experience of programming to understand what all those little lines of code mean. You could spend a lot of time just reading code and gain a decent understanding about what it does. That understanding could be all the richer if you wrote that program yourself.
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#3 insanepenguin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 02:35 AM

I do combine reading and writing code but I guess you need to read then write your own programs of increasing complexity from examples until you can start creating your own stuff.
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#4 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 07:45 AM

You can read every book on the subject of driving a car.
But until you actually start doing it, you have no skills for it. Then you learn that the theoretical concepts of driving, is only a pale ghost of shadow of the real thing.

You can read all you want about how to have sex, but when you actually starting having sex... Do I really have to continue that analogy?

Same with coding. You can read all you want about it. But it remains just a bunch of text in your head until you start applying it. Once a friend says "Hey, can you write me a point of sale program for my restaraunt?" you have to actually create something from scratch. When someone says "I need a widget program to do x,y, and z" you actually have to be creative about problem solving.

Coding is a lot more than just understanding the syntax of a language.

I understand the syntax of English. That doesn't make me skilled at writing the next great mystery novel.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 08:37 AM

Carrying on from our Klingon friend's point, learning to write code in multiple languages does tend to confer the ability to read code well - even if you can't write in a language, you can start to get the hang of what's going on. This doesn't go the other way, though.

I speak reasonably good Spanish and Portuguese. I can understand Italian and French when they're spoken around me, but coming out with a sentence in either of those languages is difficult, since I don't have the vocabulary available. Likewise, I have a pretty easy time finding my way through C# code since I have a good handle on Java, but to write it I'd need to have a much better familiarity with the libraries.
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#6 insanepenguin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:09 AM

At my current level of experience I'm not sure what I'm capable of creating I don't want to take on something too complex and get frustrated.

I've done all the fundamentals(variables, types, loops, arrays, inheritance, objects etc) I'm currently on subjects like interfaces, delegates and indexers.

Are there any resources for small C# projects a novice should be able to complete?

This way I could combine what I'm learning to my own 'from scratch' creations

thanks
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#7 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:27 AM

View Postinsanepenguin, on 16 August 2011 - 11:09 AM, said:

Are there any resources for small C# projects a novice should be able to complete?

This way I could combine what I'm learning to my own 'from scratch' creations


There is a novice projects thread here on DIC. But here's my advice whenever this comes up:

Look around. Anyone who can't find a dozen projects a day by just walking through life, is doing so with their eyes closed to the world.

Look around your own hobby and find something in software you wish you had.
  • Do you like the weather? What about a program to get the various weather reports from different web sites? Or to integrate with one of the numerous USB weather station hobby kits on the market?
  • Do you like the run? What about a program to log your runs, routes and progress?
  • Do you like movies? What about a program to catalog all your DVD's and AVI's?
  • Do you like photography? What about a program to browse your images, assign tags and GPS?
  • Do you like shooting? What about a program to track your aim and improvement?
  • What about every time you walk into a business and someone says "Oh, I'm sorry. The computers are slow/suck. This is going to take 10 minutes and 25 screens." SOunds like an opportunity to make and maybe even sell them a new program. So go home and make it first before you open your mouth. If you succeed in something great. If you fail, then you know where to study more and you haven't embarrassed yourself.


Go to any of the on-line coder for hire sites. Read the new contract descriptions. DON'T BID ON THEM. Just read them. This will tell you what is requested by employers so you know where you have the potential to make money, and tell you where you should study. Then pick a project and build it. TRACK YOUR TIME. If you don't know how long it takes you to build a project then you won't be able to bid on contracts. If you bid $50 for 50 hours of work you're going to starve to death. Again, building projects just to learn the technology and learn your own speed and weaknesses is something we all do/did and you need to do too. Once you can build a project just for the learning experience, fast enough that you could have made a competitive bid... Now you can start considering actually bidding on new contracts that are in your skill set.
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#8 insanepenguin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Being able to read a language first

Posted 16 August 2011 - 11:02 AM

thanks for the suggestions, I think I'll complete the book and video series as by then I will have learned some ADO.net, web services and followed the tutorials building full WPF applications.

I always write everything out from the books examples in C# and make sure I understand what each line is doing before I move on so I'm always writing code alongside studying it - Hopefully once I have finished these I can start my own projects from scratch :D
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