The most experienced programmers will tell you that you can literally never stop learning computer science. There will always be areas to explore where you will start out feeling like a novice. As you advance you build up a store of esoteric knowledge, but even at the very top of the profession there is simply way too much information for any one person to grasp.
This is probably one of the reasons that when many people start out learning to code it seems too daunting. There are lots of different terms and ideas to learn- “syntax,” “object-oriented,” “high-level,” “low-level,” to name a few- that your typical computer science course will throw at you before you even write a line of code.
There are also a lot of “learn to code” programs out there that try their best to dumb it down, by giving you basic concepts one by one. Courses like the beginner programs at Codecademy will have you write tiny programs, or even individual lines of code, to learn basic syntax details. This approach, the logic goes, allows you to “write code” in a closed off space until you feel more comfortable.
The problem is that this is still very boring, even if it is interactive. It is still rote memorization, and doesn’t simulate the process that real programmers use to improve their knowledge. The best way to learn, experienced programmers will tell you, is to learn by doing, which is something none of these courses actually offer.
This is why scripting is such a great learning tool. The various scripting languages are simply easier to learn than languages like Ruby or Python. Scripts are designed to have the easiest syntax possible, and they are also designed to save time and solve everyday needs.
It is very easy to build a script that has a purpose. When you learn scripting you are driven more by curiousity and utility than rote memorization. One of the first things I ever did when I started learning Applescript, for example, was to build a script that I still use everyday. Never at any point did it feel like I was at school.
When I help people build apps with Rheti, which uses the scripting language Blockly, many of them don’t even realize they are learning to code. They’ll ask a syntax question, for example, without having any idea what syntax is. I’ll be able to answer them in layman’s terms, and the next time I see their apps I’ll notice they’ve applied the syntax question across the entire app. These people will build an app for a real reason, such as a business or an organization they are a part of, and come away with some basic programming concepts under their belts.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can learn or teach scripting, check out Rheti, MIT App Inventor or any of the other tools that use Blockly. There are also tons of scripting languages that are fun and easy to learn, and all of them have very practical applications for every day users. Which one you should check out depends on what you want to do!
We’re at www.rheti.com if you’d like more info, or to subscribe to our blog.
Founded in 2012, Rheti’s Android application is proving that any person can build a great mobile application. Rheti requires no previous programming knowledge and leverages a catalog of hundreds of features, third party APIs, and pre-built app templates to create native Android apps using touch commands. Customers who build apps using Rheti get to market 90% faster and can quickly customize their apps to make them unique in both functionality and design. Users interested in learning how to program are also able to use Rheti’s blockly interface to understand the methodologies behind scripting. Rheti is available for free in the Google Play store https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rheti.appcreator.
Please visit http://www.rheti.com for more information.