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Old 14th February 2012
thirdm thirdm is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 234

Originally Posted by daemonfowl View Post
a lot of time and effort spent on the wrong prog-lge has been a common complaint .. I believe this is part and parcel of the secretbox why many falls into inertia and say die ..
if I focus on the right thing and advance in it and see it blossoming .. this will be an elan vital for more effort .. effort now seen as fun and +contrib ..
..talking from a purely hobbyist stance ..
It's hard for me to see how any of C, Python, Perl, Ruby, C++, or shell script (was anything else mentioned here?) would set you on a bad path. Shell scripting won't take up a huge amount of your life, most likely, and you can launch into a more general purpose language soon enough after you start accomplishing things with it. Each of the others has large vibrant development communities, all kinds of libraries and is either very general purpose (C and C++) or quite flexible but less laborious to code in (the scripting languages).

Hmmm, are you thinking the problem will be one of motivation or one of learning things without a lot of payoff other than this general fuzzy make you a better programmer idea you've plainly heard somewhere, perhaps from Eric Raymond's writing (personally, I believe there's something to that so I don't sweat my missteps)? Shell or scripting language will help with the motivation if you want quick gratification. If you don't see that as a problem and want the shortest path to some particular kind of programming, there may be better choices. E.g. if you want the shortest path to Unix kernel programming, and are steadfast and driven, the language you want is C (which is not to say you can't write kernels in C++, but, unless you want to count L4 as vaguely unix related, no one you could join in with right now is doing that that I know of -- there's Haiku, but that's not Unix).

OTOH, if you see yourself doing more application level programming, I'd start somewhere else (then again, isn't C still most popular in free software projects even in userland?). Not much objective advice can be given here. People are writing nice (and not so nice) applications in many languages.

Personal preference? There are some general themes where people will sound in with their language preferences. e.g. compile time (static) type checking vs. runtime; languages that provide you with a lot of facilities (e.g. C++, Common Lisp, Perl) and leave it to you to combine them tastefully vs. smaller tidier languages (C, Scheme, Python). It was probably pointless for me to even bring this up, though. There's no honest way to find your preferences other than through experience. It's too early to pick based on any of these themes.

Not sure anyone can (or should?) tell you definitively where to start, so you'll need to risk a choice you might regret later (though, I don't see it as that likely) and hope for the best.
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