Hey guys. I don't know much about coding, but I'd like to be a software developer. Lofty goal for sure considering my lack of knowledge. I'm prepared to work at this however. I need to know where to start.
I'll look at reviews for a given book. Some say it's great, some say it's terrible. Some folks say an IDE is fine, while others say that it on obfuscates aspects of programming that the coder should absolutely be familiar with. I haven't a clue!
I like the idea of learning without an IDE holding my hand. Can someone recommend a book that teaches C using a text editor such as Gedit for example? Or any book that would be a good starting point. Thank you in advance.
C was originally developed on Unix which is why it has so many references to it. But it all works just the same on Windows; and as I gave you the link for the online compiler it does not matter what system you are on. Once you have developed a reasonable understanding you can install one of the free IDEs or compilers on your own system.
If you are using Windows and you intend to write your learning code for Windows then you would start with Visual Studio from Microsoft 2017.
1.) It's free for solo developer, just register and download
2.) It's a modern IDE with good debugger and intellisense alone will help you with silly errors.
3.) Opening a console app template to do some of those easy startup lesson is a couple of mouse clicks.
4.) It's the O/S you are familiar with.
I seriously wouldn't consider anything else because it's just a whole pile of junk learning like make etc that you will never use for those other systems. You will also struggle with any unix/linux code as many of the API calls will not be represented under windows and you will need to incorporate posix library substitutes just to get your sample code to compile.
I use GCC, Keil, Green Hills and Eclipse for a lot of other work but they are all much more complex to run on Windows than Visual Studio and when you are starting out what you want is simplicity. You want to concentrate on the C language itself not the toolchain systems.
You will have compiled and run your first programs on VS before you have even worked out how to install and setup many of the other systems.
Ok lets be realistic you may do it but even since 2016 there is actually even more programmers using mac's than linux, it's dropped down to number 3. This is not a war about O/S's it's just a user numbers and linux is falling, windows is also falling and mac is picking up the losses. If you go by actual O/S mac is probably now number one because windows O/S use is broken into 7 & 10 with roughly equal numbers and a few still on XP. There is probably 2018 numbers out, but I now that is roughly what it was in 2017.
Even on linux for a new user I would suggest Studio Code, Eclipse or something more updated because if they do go into the serious commercial world it is unlikely an company hiring would be running on vi.
The normal however is that you program on the machine you are most familiar with and use
Nobody said anything about an O/S or popularity of a platform for developing.
If you REALLY want to learn C and, more importantly, how to debug the code you write, doing it without an IDE is a good way to do it. It forces you to go back and research every line of code you write and really understand how that line works.
I started by "writing code", literally with paper and pencil, from books on CPU's and machines that I would never have access to. I've written code in environments without the benefit of a debugger and had to learn to use other statements in the code to help with peeking into the variables. When .NET 1.0 came out as a beta, I was writing code in Notepad and using the command line compilers to learn how this whole new world worked.
Debuggers and IDE are luxuries. Learn the skills without them and you won't be screwed when you're confronted by an environment where you don't have them. You'd be surprised at how often that happens.
As I said your personal experience doesn't and shouldn't come into it, the OP asked what is the best way.
The best way is the one that is most familiar to the person learning and with the easiest method and that is
usually the O/S they are comfortable. Everything outside that slows the learning process down as they are also
learning O/S stuff unrelated to actual programming itself. An IDE does nothing either way it's simply a front
to the compiler and doesn't change a single thing with the C code you write. All I suggest he does is stay on
the O/S they normally use and see if an IDE makes it easier.
I don't take your claim seriously that a programmer would be get so stuck to an IDE they couldn't work without
it. It sounds more like a story by those who don't have an IDE and trying to justify why they don't. Given that
opensource IDE's like Visual Studio Code are available for every platform it is now also a dead argument as you
can run those sort of IDE's on every platform and they look and work the same on every platform and are free.
Where the really new IDE's are great these days is many have what Microsoft trademarked as intellisense
that is they predict the function as you start typing so you don't make typos and they show you the function
parameters as you type them in and then they will even show you after you type if you have an error before
you even attempt to compile. Again I suspect you are adding personal bias into a very complicated answer.
I personally think IDE use is down to does it make it easier for the person learning.
You are correct that the best way is the one that makes sense to the OP.
What I've found, working with other people, a GOOD way is to force them to read documentation and experiment. That's all I was saying.
leon de boer wrote:
I don't take your claim seriously that a programmer would be get so stuck to an IDE they couldn't work without
HAHAHA! We have definitely work/worked with different people. I've work with both people who could easily work without an IDE and those who couldn't wipe their ass without the aid of a tour guide. There are plenty of situations where you don't get the aid of an IDE or Intellisense, so how is your newb going to get by if he's completely reliant on it, aka the tour guide?
The IDE, and Intellisense, is no replacement for the development of research skills. THAT is the most important skill you can develop as developer. No IDE or Intellisense is going to help you with that. Putting the cursor on a keyword and hitting F1 is not research.
There plenty of evidence to this right here on CP. You need only to look at the questions in QA.
Even if I accepted your view there is such people, when or why would they not be able to use the IDE ???
I am fascinated what circumstance lead them to not being able to use the IDE? I actually can't think of a work situation it would ever occur and that is why even if someone was dependent you would never know because they would have it installed.
Lets take CPallani who apparently loves his vi as his editor, but you can get vi for every O/S. So under what situation could you stop him using vi and that programming need become a problem? In his case it really is no different to any IDE he is dependent on an Editor which is just the same as an IDE.
That is why I don't take you answer seriously because I actually can't think how you could ever get that problem to arise. You seem to be naking a mountain out of a molehill that basically could never happen.
Really? The first thing that came to mind when I read that was, "Wow, what a cute sandbox you work in."
How about writing and debugging VBScript code in Notepad because you're not allowed to use certain tools in Government installations? You're also not allowed to use any other languages or scripting engines because they require some kind of runtime installation that's also not allowed.
How about debugging SQL stored procedures that work perfectly fine in TEST and QA but fall flat in Production using nothing but command line tools? Oh, and you're not allowed to connect to Production with SSMS or anything else remotely. You actually have to stand in the datacenter on the console.
Not every situation is one where you're sitting at your desk with all of your tools. Sometimes you're even in situations where you can't even bring your cell phone with you let alone a laptop with your toolset to help you.
So you are on a secure installation, and they are going to allow you physical access to do debugging
So all I can see at the moment is some dramatic situations where one would question the value of what is being done (because you either forgot or they took your tools off you), that you can save the day while the poor IDE dependent pleb might have to think of another way around it, drive and get his tools or get proper authorized access. However in that moment on that workplace you will shine and save the day in less time and effort.
As I said I can't think of any realistic situations but I am impressed by your abilities with notepad, mine are woeful.
I am with Dave K on this. Having to write, build, test and debug code without all the fancy tools definitely teaches you some core skills. Most of my professional life I was working in the era of no IDEs so I had no choice. Now that I have Visual Studio, intellisense, project templates etc. it makes life easy. But I can still fall back on my knowledge of the basics when necessary.
It's the old calculator versus long division thing.
Many schools in many countries don't teach long division basically because calculators exist.
You will get people who will argue that you should learn long division because one day you will get caught without a calculator.
You know the counter why waste so much time learning something that when caught in the situation you could easily fix.
So we invent a drama but wait you have a plane crash on a deserted island and you need to solve the division to save yourself. If only I learned long division I could save myself. What we leave out is you probably didn't learn how to calculate sine and cosine from first principles so we better hope your escape doesn't need trig functions
Neither side will convince the other, it's answer simply becomes just our own personal bias on how we feel about the technological advance.
I am not trying to make a case for one side better than the other. Merely that learning some basic skills can actually help you, and not just when you don't have access to all the fancy tools. It's like the people who post some code in QA and ask for a step by step explanation, or for us to debug and correct it. They are perfectly capable of downloading code from the internet, adding it to Visual Studio to build it, but have no clue as to what any of it is supposed to do or why.
And having read (and benefitted from) many of your answers, I am pretty certain that you have those skills in spades.
Yeah I understand, and yes willing to do the hard yards learning is much more important. I am so old I can do long division and work without an IDE but if I am honest I am just not sure it means much. Of the younger staff around me I am not sure how many can actually work without IDE (or do long division) not something I had ever found I needed to ponder.