Thinking about Programming…

I recently made a post about Ruby on Rails. I read about it in the newspaper for all places, and it didn’t mean much to me. After some googling, I got curious about the language Ruby, and that got me started reading about other programming languages, with an emphasis on web programming. All the sudden, I’m seriously thinking about learning a programming language. When I was a teenager, my friends and I were programming in Basic. In college, I made a few attempts to learn Visual Basic but it was so absolutely God-awful, non-intuitive that I gave up very quickly. It left a very bad taste in my mouth, and made me think that all programming would have to be cryptic and complicated. But maybe I was wrong.

I did some reading yesterday, and came across this page on metafilter.com which talks about what programming languages are good for what, and which ones might be useful for a beginner to start learning. Ruby comes highly recommended as a new, clear, easy-to-learn language for web purposes. I tried out a little intro for Ruby online the other day, and it seemed very straight forward.

But the language that seems to be the best (among the easier ones, C/C++ is still, I guess, a must if you have the stomach for it) is Python. The reason this seems an attractive option is that this language is used for website programming (such as google) but is also evolving into a scripting/programming alternative for ArcGIS which, from what I read, has been cursed by Visual Basic, GIS being another field of applications I am busy learning about. So, I’m thinking that as a total newbie to programming who is interested in web design / site construction, and would like to use his geology/engineering background through geographic information systems, I should take a serious look at Python.

Strangely, I am excited about this. 🙂 If you follow up on the above metafilter thread/post (What is metafilter anyway – they call it a blog but it’s more like a non-moderated discussion forum…), there is some talk of who is a programmer, and who is not. I have definitely never thought about myself as a programmer, much less as a techie. But I find the idea of learning to program strangely intriguing, no, I should say liberating. It would be great to be able to look inside the black box of software!

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