How to Learn Programming in the First Decade of the New Century

ML May 25, 2007

If you’re intimidated by tech gobbledygook, turn back now. If you’ve always wanted to join the ranks of the tech-speaking, app-spinning inner circle, then please cautiously continue. With this blog topic, we’ll be diving real-deep, real-fast, and breaking this topic off from the HitTail blog real soon, so it doesn’t weigh down the HitTail message of driving more traffic to your site for free.

With that preamble disclaimer done, here we go…

I plan on making the ultimate, free, portable, flexible rapid open source development platform possible, able to be understood and utilized by the largest population possible. I plan on sharing the experience witht he HitTail audience (for starters), and eventually the general Marketing/Programming world.

I’ll be using it for professional and personal projects alike. It will replace what I currently use, and refer to as my “Generalized System 3” (GS3). And I’ll explain my choice of PHP vs. Python vs. Ruby vs. Lisp vs. JavaScript vs. Java vs. .NET, etc.

But before you get too excited about a big programming language shoot-out, please know I’m probably going to use Ruby, and maybe even just extend Ruby on Rails (ROR) in an obsolescence-resistant fashion. What makes this endeavor different from every other ROR tutorial is the granularity with which I’ll be documenting the process, and how the finished product will probably be able to be carried around on a keychain, or perhaps as a continuously running webserver on tomorrow’s mobile phones. But it will definitely able to be run as a virtualized instance on any of today’s mainstream hardware/OS platforms, making it of immediate use (PCs, Macs, Linux, etc.). It will be the killer, ultimate, free, be-anywhere, do-anything programming buddy—cool enough to let you spin scalable enterprise-class apps, and show-up the “take-six-months-to-write-a-spec” crowd.

This new generalized system and agile development framework is likely to be used on places in the HitTail site, as well as for Connors clients. In the spirit of David Heinemeier Hansson and 37Signals, I’ll be sharing the process, and much of the code with the world, in the hopes of creating a lot of corollary excitement surrounding HitTail. In the spirit of Paul Graham (Lisp) and Hansson (Ruby), I believe strongly in the merits of a language and agile framework as being a source of extreme competitive advantage.

It’s hard to say precisely where I’ll go with this project, but the first baby-step starts out here (in describing the project), and I will tap the power of my existing GS3, which provides a baby-step documentation framework, and a minimum-model for what the new stuff should support.

So, this post starts a long and interesting journey, which is more of a side-project to HitTail than directly HitTail-related. While it’s not precisely HitTail-related, this is currently the best soapbox I have, and therefore the place I’d like to get it started. And I plan on rolling out a tutorial style I hope will sweep the Internet, called “baby step tutorials”. True baby-steps are possible on the Internet in a way they’re not in other media like books, because to document every little step would kill too many trees with paper. But with .html files, it just pumps up page views and makes me more money if I run advertising. So, it’s a double-win. I document with insanely granular detail.

This process should be of interest to programmer-wanna-be’s of the sort that fill the ranks of Marketing departments around the world, who are generally intimidated by the choices, tools, and discussions that surround getting started with programming. Have you looked at the selection of books in the programming section of a Barnes and Noble or Borders lately? It’s crazy! I’ll explain along the way why this is, and what the “most right” choices for the “least-programmer-like” people are. The average citizen can be a programmer today, with minimum fuss. You’re not on the bleeding edge anymore. Programming’s easy stuff.

And unlike previous attempts I’ve made at doing this, I’ll do it right this time. The reason that it will not be an aborted attempt this time (I’ve had false starts in the past) is that I’ll be leveraging the power of my already created GS3 as a blue-print, plus the best of what’s out there today, plus I have HitTail’s momentum and celebrity to ride. I now know what it means to finish things and do them right.

The public will be able to observe, interact, push me forward, and tweak me in certain directions as I go.

While this blog post kicks it off, I will use the comment field underneath to link into the non-blog pages, where this will reside.

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