The Real Programmer

March 19, 2012 at 11:04 am | Posted in Programming | Leave a comment
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I was checking out what new language to learn. There are several points here:

  • Language: Most newbies or less experienced programmers think of learning a new langauge and thats it. They think learning more languages will make them better programmer. Unfortunately this is not true.
  • New Paradigm : Other experiences programmers want to learn a new paradigm which will change their way of thinking and make thema better programmer rather than a programmer who knows several languages. He thinks that learning a language like C++ wil automatically make him an OO expert. Sigh…. he got immature mindset too.
  • Reality Check : No matter what a programmer wants to do, either of the above or both, his thoughts are crushed by the reality of the software as an industry. He works whole day and then he has a family and he wants to have a life too and there are only 24 hours in a day. Out of all this mess and busy schedule, he starts thinking that he can not afford to spend time learning a langauge which does not give him a rise in his income.
  • RealProgrammer : . Now there is another breed of programmers, which I call real programmers (I am one of them. What you think ? … No ? … c’mon just believe it because I am the author of this post 😉 ) Here the real programmer, I mean the one who does not believe in quick fixes, the one who started programming because he likes it, because he is happily willing to live next 20, 30, 40, 50 years of his life writing code, THAT ONE decieds to go long term. Rather than deciding on income-factor he goes with programming-factor, he decied to learn new-paradigm, decides to check out something unheard in industry but heard a lot from the mouths of good programmers.

Learning programming for income is like a adding one more language to your Resume and that stops right there and it adds not much to your skill as programmer. I think you must aim for getting more out of the time you spend, you must aim differently, you must aim what your common-sense thinks is right. Unfortunately most programmers don’t have that common-sense because industry is full of programmers who do it for money just like a fruit-seller who sells fruits for money but himself does not eat much of them because he is not interested in how fruits lead to good health. My advice will be wathcing and observing what all brilliant programmers are doing from years and learn from them. Thats what I do.

I am a C Programmer and I wanted that new language to help rise in my career too. Of course the choice came out to be C++. But C++ is almost in the same paradigm as C plus more. C is procedural while C++ has OO and generic paradigms added to and it is designed in such a way that you can add a lot of other paradigms to it but C and C++ belong to almost same kind of mindset. I wanted to write a microkernel for Hurd, hence I dwelled into other languages like BitC and decac etc. but then again lack of time and my focus on what can I do to become better programmer and use my time with maximum productivity. Here are the options I think I have found:

  • Haskell
  • ErLang
  • Common Lisp
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Ada
  • Caml
  • BitC
  • decac
  • Eiffell
  • RISC Assembly
  • D Programming Langauge
  • Prolog
  • C++

Now, I can’t learn everything, it will take 2 lives to finish this list off. So after lot sof googling, lots of readings of practical views, research papers etc etc I selected Common-Lisp. Lisp is 2nd oldest language still in existance after FORTRAN. Lisp has a changed a lot since then. Code and Data are same in Lisp. Many concepts were developed first in Lisp and then in other languages e.g. garbage collection. You can write Lisp code which will write Lisp code, its like creating a new language yourself. I learned about recursion in 7 days which I struggled to learn for 4 years with C and C++. I learned Binary-Search in 5 minutes which I am trying from last year to understand with C, in C you struggle more with how to write in C rather than the abstraction of the problem and its solution. (No wait… I am not attacking C, Not at all. C is a great language to learn to know about pointers which Lisp intelligently hides. You must learn both C and Common-Lisp if you are serious about programming.) For Managers Common-Lisp has OO and the next generation fancy (but practical) words e.g. MOP (Meta-Object Protocol if you have never heard of it). There are lot of strange languages and I don’t know why Common-Lisp impressed me so much. So far I have seen only one company in India using it.

Bottom line is: If you want a job, learn Java, C#, .NET or C++ . If you want to be a better programmer and willing to spend next 20 years of your life writing code, you better learn C and Common-Lisp and yeah arrays and pointers are not same and code is data in Lisp. The point is not to run after money but specizlized skills in programming. Specialized skill over long-term attracts money automatically.


Copyright © 2012 Arnuld Uttre, Village – Patti, P.O – Manakpur, Tehsil – Nangal, Distt. – Ropar, Punjab (INDIA)

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.


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