Easiest language to learn

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70 Replies - 4089 Views - Last Post: 29 June 2013 - 02:51 PM

#61 IcyCode  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:24 AM

View Postbaavgai, on 22 June 2013 - 04:31 AM, said:

Python: A great and useful language. The only issue is scale. There's a whole lot of stuff that can be thrown at a Python student. Fun from programmers, but not for those starting out. It's just not as simple as those languages from a more primitive era.

I guess my point is really simplicity. Low cost of entry. Languages where you don't have to learn a boat load of things and can hit the ground running. We've lost the idea of a learning language and expect beginners to take up the tools of experienced programmers from the start. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Note on GOTO: We've had this out, GOTO is evil. However, context is everything. GOTO is evil in procedural languages. In BASIC and assembly, it is the tool you have. Modernly, I use it in batch scripts and T-SQL without shame.

I remember when I was first learning to program; I made a text RPG in BASIC. Looking back, it seems like every other line was a GOTO statement. I felt accomplished and posted it on a programming forum where I faced endless ridicule. This wouldn't have been a problem if it hadn't accustomed me writing procedural spaghetti code. This habit carried over into other languages and when the time came to learn about object oriented programming, I had difficulty getting used to it. This leaves me under the impression that it may be better for somebody new to learn to think in an object-oriented mindset. That may mean learning "a boat load of things" but if the end result yields better programming habits, power to it.

This post has been edited by IcyCode: 25 June 2013 - 08:26 AM

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#62 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 25 June 2013 - 08:41 AM

View PostIcyCode, on 25 June 2013 - 10:24 AM, said:

This leaves me under the impression that it may be better for somebody new to learn to think in an object-oriented mindset. That may mean learning "a boat load of things" but if the end result yields better programming habits, power to it.


I tend to agree with you on this. The point of learning your first language is to learn how to program, and preferably how to program well. Good habits are important - both habits of style and habits of mind.

This is one reason I think Java is a good starting language. It's really easy to get people thinking in object-oriented design from just about the beginning. Other OO languages make a lot of concessions to the programmer, allowing you to write a lot of code and never define an object* - but Java makes this really difficult. So it's a good tool to get people thinking in this mindset.

However, Java certainly doesn't qualify as the easiest anything. It's not hard, really, but it's never going to be the easiest.

So how important is it that a language is easy to learn? What are we willing to trade off for this? (if "easy" weren't a trade-off, would there be any hard languages?)
*python, I'm looking at you!
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#63 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 25 June 2013 - 09:10 AM

@IcyCode: Thanks for that. I don't know that any code has honestly scarred me, but I've been doing this long time.

My first language was probably BASIC on a VIC-20. Then BASIC on Atari, Apple, IBM, Commodore... Pascal after that and then most of college. Some mainframe and PC assembly. I recall being annoyed by the case sensitivity of C, my first experience with such an odd concept. ;)
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#64 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 25 June 2013 - 09:20 AM

View Postbaavgai, on 25 June 2013 - 11:10 AM, said:

I recall being annoyed by the case sensitivity of C, my first experience with such an odd concept. ;)/>


Some people are still having this experience :)

https://www.simple-t...-better-than-c/
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#65 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 25 June 2013 - 10:00 AM

Heh. I got over it.

The thing is, if you ever did anything reasonably large is a messy language like BASIC, or even Assembly, you usually had to adopt some kind of convention to keep the chaos from killing you. We were already adopting the mantra of "GOSUB over GOTO" long before we got to GOTO is evil memo. Case sensitivity, while not enforced, was considered good style.
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#66 salazar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 29 June 2013 - 01:08 PM

HTML. People like to complain about HTML not being a programming language. I believe a lot of it is bias towards it being extremely simple. There are many 'toy' languages out there that don't do anything close has useful as HTML, and people that they are programming languages. HTML was designed to be simple where it would be easy to create web pages. If it is not a programming language, then what is it?
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#67 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 29 June 2013 - 01:43 PM

a markup language
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#68 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 29 June 2013 - 02:24 PM

@salazar - saying HTML isn't a programming language isn't intended to devalue HTML, or make fun of it.

It's just not a programming language.

It'd be like if I said Japanese is not a romantic language. Because it's not. That's not intended to offend Japanese.

HTML is a markup language. A markup language is a language that annotates text, so that said text is parsed a program has an idea of how the author expects that text to be displayed. The program (your browser) then actually displays the text.

It's called markup as a reference to how manuscripts used to be marked up with notes between author and editor for publishing.
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#69 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 29 June 2013 - 02:25 PM

Calling HTML or CSS programming languages is like saying you're writing a book by highlighting another one or changing the font and how it looks. The book is still the same, you just marked it up differently.
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#70 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 29 June 2013 - 02:27 PM

To be fair, the OP didn't explicitly state "programming" language, only strongly implied it.

Given looser criteria, then pig latin is the easiest I can think of, provided the student is already fluent in English.

This post has been edited by baavgai: 29 June 2013 - 02:28 PM

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#71 sinzim  Icon User is offline

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Re: Easiest language to learn

Posted 29 June 2013 - 02:51 PM

I would recommend Python as a starter language, it's what my University has changed to also for it's most novice course. It's very versatile, powerful and can be applied easily to both stand-alone applications, backend and for web development (the python based django framework is pretty cool). Being an interpreted language also means you can do a lot of feeling around in the interpreter instead of having to write-compile-run and then adjust your approach.

I think you will get a lot done faster than most other languages. However, you might find that you pass a few checkpoints without really knowing what you are doing :)
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