Programming a computer is almost as easy as using one and does not require you to be a math genius. People who are good at solving story problems make good programmers, and others say that artistic or musical talent is a sign of potential programmer. Various computer languages are described, and tips on choosing the right language and learning how to use it are provided.
Learning how to program is actually easier than many people think. Learning to program takes about the same time as two semesters of a college course. The process of learning to program is uniquely reinforcing, because students receive immediate feedback on their screens. The programming languages Basic, Pascal, C, and Database are discussed; tips on learning the languages are offered; and a list of publishers' addresses is provided.
One way of programming is rapid application development (RAD) has tremendous powers, but it is not without its limits. The two basic advantages RAD tools promise over traditional programming are shorter, more flexible development cycle and the fact that applications can be developed by a reasonably sophisticated end user. The main disadvantage is that RAD tools often require code to be written, which will result in most developers probably having to learn to program using the underlying programming language, except in the case of the simplest applications. The time gained from using a RAD tool can be immense, however: Programmers using IBM's VisualAge report the ability to create up to 80 percent of an application visually, with the last 20 percent consisting of specialized functions, which means by using and IBM program it is much easier because most of the program is graphics which is just point and click to do, and the rest is code, which really isn't much.
Anyone who is willing to invest a little time and effort can now write computer programs and customize commercial applications, thanks to new software tools. People can create their own application with such programming languages as Microsoft's Visual Basic for Windows (which is about $130) or Novell's AppWare, part of its PerfectOffice suite. These products enable users to do much of their programming through point-and-click choices without memorizing many complicated commands.
Programming can also be very difficult. At least one programming mistake is always made and debugging it can be very hard. Just finding where the problem is can take a long time alone, then if you fix that problem, another could occur. There was a programming involving a cancer-therapy machine, has led to loss of life, and the potential for disaster will increase as huge new software programs designed to control aircraft and the national air-traffic control system enter into use. There is currently no licensing or regulation of computer programmers, a situation that could change as internal and external pressures for safety mount.
Programming these days is also hard if you don't have the right hardware and software. Limited memory, a lack of programming standards, and hardware incompatibilities contributed to this problem by making computing confusingly complicated. Computing does not have to be complicated anymore, however. Although computer environments still differ in some respects, they look and feel similar enough to ease the difficulty of moving from one machine to another and from one application to another. Improved software is helping to resolve problems of hardware incompatibility. As users spend less time learning about computers, they can spend more time learning with them.
I would like to learn some of these programming languages. I am especially interested in learning Borland C++ or Visual C++. Visual Basic is all right, but I think learning a C language would be much more interesting and probably more profitable in the future.
1. Business Week April 3, 1995 2. Byte Magazine August 1995 3. Compute Magazine June 1995 4. Compute Magazine May 1996 5. Newsweek Magazine January 29, 1995