[Newbies] I've never written a line of code, but want to be a programmer!

David Corking lists at dcorking.com
Wed Mar 30 13:59:15 UTC 2011

On Wed, Mar 30, 2011, Tim Retz wrote:
> My problem is that smalltalk is my first programing language,
> So I need to figure out how to break a problem down to something I can code
> out

Computer scientists are taught courses like "algorithms" and "data
structures". Others like me end up skipping these, even though some
courses are available in books or in open courseware, usually in
Scheme or Java languages. But that is only part of what is needed to
get going.

As a fellow newbie, I will offer three thoughts.

(1) I found my previous programming knowledge quite unhelpful.

(2) I found that digging into someone else's code to maintain it has
vastly accelerated my learning. By maintain, I mean add or tweak a
feature, or track down a bug (even if someone else beats me to the
finish line.)

(3) Etoys is a much simpler language than Smalltalk, but building an
Etoy is _real_ programming, while playful and fun even for an adult.
Dragging, dropping and throwing away failed experiments taught me a
lot about how to compose an application from objects. It also helped
me to see why a method or Etoys script is rarely more than three
lines. However I didn't need to worry about inheritance or classes,
nor did I have to memorize Smalltalk's mouse clicks, shortcuts, menus
and modifier keys, or navigate a vast and complex class library.

> (I need to learn to "scratch-code" in a workspace).

Not necessarily. The workspace is where the system offers the least
help. Browsers, inspectors and the debugger seem, to me, to offer
better training wheels or water wings.

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