“When you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. your tastes only narrow & exclude people. so create.”

_why the lucky stiff

I like this quote. One of the reasons the I like programming on the computer is because it is my way of being creative. What do you think of this quote?

It kind of reminds me of this quote from the movie Dead Poets Society:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

John Keating

I’d like to think that there are many ways that I have contributed a verse, but one of them is definitely through the web development and computer programming that I have done. For me, writing code is my way of being an artist and my art project consists of different layers of beauty:

  • How nice and usable is it for the user?
  • How well does it serve the needs of the user?
  • How beautiful is the actual code? Is it efficient? Is it well documented? Does it look nice?

I can’t say that I’ve always had the time or been in the mood to do this well every time, but it important to me.

I’m going to try to quickly explain the languages that I have experience with what I like or don’t like about them. This isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of them… just a little bit about them… the main reasons that I have.

My Experience With Different Languages

I started telling the computer what to do when I was 10 years old and I used HyperCard. It used a language called HyperTalk and it was based on a concept that a program consists of a stack of user interfaces. It was a good place to start for me. It is what got me excited about programming. It’s too bad they don’t make it anymore.

Then I found a book in my school library (in 6th grade I think) on BASIC with tutorials on how to create games. I learned the basics of subroutines/functions as well as command line input/output. I had a blast with that one, but beyond that book, I didn’t have much resource for learning more.We didn’t have the internet (even if we did, I don’t think that there would be much of a resource back then). Today, I definitely don’t like VB.Net very much. C# is much better. In VB, you have to put “Then” after your If statement among many other syntax vegetables. Yuck!

Here is a little BASIC. Kind of nostalgic…

INPUT "What is your name: ", UserName$
PRINT "Hello "; UserName$
  INPUT "How many stars do you want: ", NumStars
  Stars$ = STRING$(NumStars, "*")
  PRINT Stars$
    INPUT "Do you want more stars? ", Answer$
  LOOP UNTIL Answer$ <> ""
  Answer$ = LEFT$(Answer$, 1)
LOOP WHILE UCASE$(Answer$) = "Y"
PRINT "Goodbye "; UserName$

For my math classes in Junior High and High School I had a TI-85 and I created some games on my calculator. I don’t know the name of the language used on the calculator. Luckily, the calculator came with a great little book with descriptions on all the commands you could issue to the calculator. This was awesome because I was great at math and finished my assignments quickly which left plenty of time for more work on my calculator during class!

My dad noticed my interest in programming and he wanted to learn too. So, we went to the bookstore and bought a book on C that we read together and did the exercises together. I loved learning C more than any other language to that point. It was the first language that I appreciated not only for what I could tell the computer to do with it, but also the way that it looked. To this day I like the wide range of ways that you can accomplish things. Programming in C/C++ feels like I’m breathing a cleaner air and that I have more freedom than any other language.

In High School, I had a computer science class and we learned both C++ and Pascal. I liked Pascal, but I loved C++.

Of course, when I went to college, almost all of the computer science classes were in Java. I really liked Java. Of all the other languages I had learned to that point, it reminded me most of C++. I know that’s weird, but think it was just because it’s object oriented. I don’t understand why, but I have this weird opinion of Java. I really enjoy programming in it, but I don’t enjoy using programs created with it. Maybe I should figure out why, but I don’t really care. :) In college, I also had classes on C++, Python, and Perl. Python and Perl were okay languages to use, but for some reason I found myself avoiding them rather than interested in them.

During college, but my job provided an opportunity to learn how to do web development. At first, I didn’t like it very much. It didn’t feel like programming to me. I kept doing it anyways, and I eventually learned to appreciate PHP and I learned to love JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Today, I feel neutral about PHP, but I really like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It is so easy and fun to deliver a great experience to people on the web.

When I graduated, I got a job doing web development with ASP.NET using C#. I really like C# because it reminds me of C++.

And Then There Was Ruby

With all the web development that I’ve done, at some point, I stumbled across Ruby on Rails. It has taken me a little bit of writing, but that is actually the reason I wanted to write this post. I love Ruby and I love Rails! I still love C++, but I feel like Ruby gives me a lot of what I love about the beauty of code that I enjoy about C++. And, when you pair it with Rails, I get HTML, CSS, and JavaScript too. Everything that I love.

A man named _why said, “To write Ruby code is to love… to feel passion.” I don’t know if I would use the same words, but I feel similarly. I really feel like I’m creating a work of art when I write Ruby code. It’s like I’m creating an awesome sculpture for the city square or painting the ceiling of a chapel. I know that may sound crazy or stupid. I may be exaggerating a little too, but it definitely is more for me than just getting to the end result.

If you want to try Ruby or learn more about Ruby on Rails, here’s where I would start: