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 Post subject: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:41 pm 
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I want to work on learning how to program this summer. I'd love to make a nail polish iPhone app. I've dabbled in programming over the years, but it's been a long time and I never stayed at it long enough, so assume I'm starting from scratch.

Most of the objective-c resources are over my head right now, and it seems more prudent to start with something else first. I started taking a java course at school, but had to drop it when I got sick. I was using eclipse.

Right now I'm running Mountain Lion and have Xcode installed.

Any suggestions where to start? I want hand holding at first. I'll have more patience to fiddle and puzzle around after I have a decent start. I just bought Head First C, but now it seems to assume you already have some programming experience, so I need something a little more basic maybe. The beginning seems clear enough, but I don't want to end up having trouble later on. Ugh. Head First Beginning Programming uses Python. Would that be a good idea, or should I look for a more beginning C book? Or just go straight to an object oriented language like Java? I know there are some good dodo brain Java books.

My problem is that I always get overly ambitious and end up spinning myself in circles. I'm trying to not do that this time!

(I have a solid computer background, so I don't need handholding or help with that. I use terminal regularly too, so I'm good with basic unix commands and the basics of how stuff works.)

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:37 pm 
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I used K&R C to learn and C was my first programming language but I actually didn't think you needed much programming knowledge to do app programming.
http://www.amazon.com/Programming-Langu ... 131103628/
Why is it so much? I don't know, it is a thin book.

Something like this might be useful. Python is very c-like, as much as a scripting language can be. It is also very user friendly to learn
http://pragprog.com/book/gwpy2/practical-programming

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:44 pm 
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I actually have K&R from years ago, but it's not very user friendly if you don't know what you are doing.

Making the interface etc in Xcode is pretty easy, but beyond that, it seems to have a hefty learning curve.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:50 pm 
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This looks like it has good reviews? I'm not helpful because there are a lot of programming books I've had and very few I liked :) That was the only C book I liked.
http://www.amazon.com/Absolute-Beginner ... 672305100/

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:00 pm 
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I had that one too, but it's in a storage box somewhere.

I'm just trying to figure out what language I should start with. Too many options!

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:04 pm 
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Well I really like Python, it is a scripted language so not quite the same. My husband said "don't tell her K&R" even though that is how we both learned C.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Have you checked out Code Academy? http://www.codecademy.com/ I haven't but I've read a lot of good things about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:39 pm 
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linanil wrote:
Well I really like Python, it is a scripted language so not quite the same. My husband said "don't tell her K&R" even though that is how we both learned C.


I know it's solid advice, but I'm just not feeling that hard core these days. So to get my feet wet, C, Java, Python, something else?

Brian, that link looks great.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:45 pm 
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brian wrote:
Have you checked out Code Academy? http://www.codecademy.com/ I haven't but I've read a lot of good things about it.


I was going to recommend this as well. I don't have experience using it but I've heard great reviews from friends, and when I worked at Apple a lot of my coworkers were using it to learn programming as well.

I would love to download your nail polish app someday, lavawitch!

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 8:48 pm 
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I wouldn't recommend Java for many reasons but Codeacademy is decent, I have tried that and learnpython.org. I can't remember which one I liked better.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:07 pm 
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if your goal is an iPhone app, you have a few viable options (ordered from most hardcore to least):
- Objective-C (via Xcode, or via AppCode - I suggest sticking with Xcode)
- C# (via Xamarin)
- Ruby (via RubyMotion)
- HTML/Javascript (via PhoneGap)

I don't honestly think ObjC as a language is inherently difficult, but learning all of the CocoaTouch ("iPhone") frameworks is the hard part (ie knowing how to respond to a touch/drag, knowing how to move a view on screen, etc). the first three on the above list are essentially the same way though - different languages, but (ultimately) the same APIs. you really need to dive in headfirst with a good idea of what you want to accomplish, and work to find what library/framework/API does what you want. and THEN knowing how to tell Xcode/Interface Builder to do that. and THEN learning tools like Instruments to make sure it's doing it right. and provisioning devices. blargh. it's a pain in the arse the first time, but it all makes sense when you've done it a few times.

a guy I know runs http://nsscreencast.com/ which is pretty consumable information. http://www.raywenderlich.com/ has good tutorials, but are often gaming focused. I'm trying to think of others (I know I know of more!) but I'm coming up with blanks

as far as "app making" goes, learning C or Python won't *really* help. if you dive in with Java, you can take it over and do some Android (and some of that general domain knowledge then transfers back to iOS dev, though it's architected quite differently). disclaimer: Android development is a massive pain in the arse.

so I'd probably suggest doing Ruby or Python to get (back) into the swing of things. they're great tools to have, no matter what. from there, see how you feel. you might branch off into web, learn Javascript, etc. or you might branch into native app dev.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:21 pm 
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Honestly, my main goal is to just learn the basics and the objective-c stuff mostly seems to start over my head. So it sounds like Python is a good place to start. I guess I can work though some of those tutorials and go from there.

Probably I need to stop wasting time figuring out where to start and just start somewhere. I'm good at that.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:56 pm 
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Python is a good starting place I think! I have heard a lot of good recommendations for this:

http://www.codecademy.com/tracks/python

I started doing it a couple years ago and found it a little too hand-holdy (but I knew many languages already at that point), but that might be exactly what you're looking for.

It is really good that you have a concrete goal to work towards. Can you break your app down into smaller parts? Make a list of all the things you would like your app to do. Then figure out what is the smallest, least tricky sounding piece-- the part where you think, I could figure out step by step instructions for this-- and figure out how to code that part.

ETA: ha, everyone else already recommended Code Academy. So consider this a +1!

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:22 am 
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Update: typically, I ignored all the great advice here and decided to stick with C since I have some old familiarity somewhere in my brain, and I already bought the book that assumed a little too much.

So: I got C For Dummies. (I know! But it's nice and warm and fuzzy to start and was only $3 so don't laugh at me). I'm about halfway through and it all mostly feels familiar. I'm having fun working through it just using GCC and vim so I'm keeping it simple. I got sick of vim and downloaded Textmate tonight, which is nice since it has color coding and line numbers. I think that after I finish this book, everything else won't seem as intimidating, and I'll work through the second C book. That one has actual projects and challenges so should be more constructive.

Then, I'll have to figure out where to go from there. Joshua: your post scared me!

I just really really need to keep myself motivated with this. Follow through is always my problem when I get into stuff like this. This is why I own one perfectly knitted sock. It's really beautiful with some cabling and fair aisle. It's also only one sock.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:43 am 
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I like Textmate! Also Sublime Text, but I usually use Textmate.

Good luck! I dabble with coding, but always learn just enough to do whatever I need done. I'm having fun with Ruby to do stuff lately. But mostly neglecting it to do other stuff. I don't have a project to motivate me to learn more right now.

I suck at follow through too. I have 2 half knit socks... I got bored after turning the heel, knitting them simultaneously didn't solve one-sock syndrome.


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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:28 am 
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Use joe! Joe's Own Editor! It's the best text editor anywhere! Plus people will look at you funny when you run it. (I used to live in Joe's apartment.)

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:31 am 
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C is awesome! I think if you can learn C, you actually have a great foundation for almost any language. (Yes, you'll have to get used to slightly different syntax etc, but that's life.)

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:37 am 
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vim does syntax highlighting and line numbers. I'm positive you know that, but I'm pointing it out for posterity!


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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:39 am 
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INTERCAL or nothing.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:43 am 
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At least you're not using emacs.


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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:45 am 
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ps, llvm > gcc! :P

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:04 pm 
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brian wrote:
vim does syntax highlighting and line numbers. I'm positive you know that, but I'm pointing it out for posterity!


I wasn't getting color coding! I was doing it wrong then. Do you have to set it up?

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:07 pm 
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joshua wrote:
ps, llvm > gcc! :P


I'll try switching. My book was using gcc, but it's from 2004.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:13 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
joshua wrote:
ps, llvm > gcc! :P


I'll try switching. My book was using gcc, but it's from 2004.

it doesn't reaaaaally matter in general for the type of stuff you're doing, but if you want to try it, it's worth knowing. they're largely compatible so either way probably won't matter. if you're bored, make the switch :)

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to program advice?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2013 12:31 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
brian wrote:
vim does syntax highlighting and line numbers. I'm positive you know that, but I'm pointing it out for posterity!


I wasn't getting color coding! I was doing it wrong then. Do you have to set it up?

":syntax on" or you can put "syntax enable" in your .vimrc


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