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The Future of Programming

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by 10101010, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. rubikwizard

    rubikwizard New commenter

    I wouldn't dream of advocating 6502 or any other dead computer/language for general use - I use it with smallish groups of kids who have chosen to do so. It would obviously be far from suitable for introducing into the general curriculum.

    Have a look at the links in my previous post - I think they deserve investigating - but I haven't had the time yet to give them a proper go. The first one is free and the second is an updated version that has to be paid for.

    I'm happy to be a geek/nerd whatever ...!
  2. I would consider BASIC, and by that I mean ANY flavour of BASIC on ANY platform to encourage INTEREST in programming.

    If I was going to teach some Computer Science (note the reverence in those capitals) I would start with Pascal. Not Basic, not C++ or any object oriented language.

    1) Pascal was conceived as a language on which to learn programming.
    2) Pascal source code can be written to be very readable, being close to the syntax used in standard algorithms.
    3) It is strongly typed and has strict compilation.
    4) It has the ability to construct abstract data types and data structures that use pointers and clean memory management. The learner does not need to get too far in to memory management.
    5) Students can progress relatively easily from Pascal to C or any other Algol-like language.
    6) Pascal is a compiled, rather than an interpreted language - students that are serious about Computer Science or programming get to learn more about how real software tools and processes: compiling, linking and run-time libraries.

    Please don't confuse my fond reminiscences for hardware and software as being the way forward for the UK software development community of tomorrow. That's someone else decision to make - not mine.

    However... don't write me off because I had a Commodore 64 when I was 13 - it put me on a path from a working class estate in a dull town to a Computer Science degree in a good university. I went on to develop geochemical analysis software using C++ that is sold worldwide for megabucks and educational software using Pascal that is used over 500 schools and colleges throughout Europe. I "retired" from development at the grand old age of 29 because teaching looked interesting. I've earned my stripes the same as many other teachers that dig old stuff.
  3. I've taken a leaf out of rubik/autism/10101010's books and have decided to look backwards for the way forwards.

    Next term, my students will be using Babbage's Analytical Engine to learn programming. Ok, it was never built but it's something for the G&T kids to get their teeth into.

    Ok, it might also be a little obsolete but valuable skills are valuable skills aren't they?

    First of all, we'll build it using Lego bricks, elastic bands and chocolate digestives which we'll convert into gears and once that fun is over, wheeeee!, we'll be straight onto the firendly user interface.

    I've posted full details of my plans but not on that new-fangled internet thing. Instead, I have deposited several roman tabula containing full details of my plans in the great library of Alexandria. A young chap called Juvenal is keeping them safe for me - they should be ok if you want to see them but there again - sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    I hope this post is sufficiently forward looking for you all.
  4. Unfortunate that you can't consider the points that I made about Pascal and that you choose to resort to insults. Even more so, given that you posed the original question of the future of programming in when you created the thread.
  5. You might feel insulted - didn't mean to insult you - just being tongue in cheek.

    actus non facit reum mens sit rea.

    Pascal is old stuff again!
  6. rubikwizard

    rubikwizard New commenter

    I think PASCAL is a great language - we used it a lot on my maths degree - and I used it personally for a number of years later, but have not used it in some time now.

    As for insults, I don't think anyone has insulted anyone in this thread - but it's good to poke fun at each other, I poke fun at myself all the time for being a nostalgic geek (as do the kids at school!)

    If you think PASCAL is old then take a look at http://www.cs.manchester.ac.uk:80/Digital60/Baby/ . I really wanted to enter this competition to code with the 'original' machine code but had little time due to re-re-re-marking endless Y11 coursework. It is interesting to see the origin of my beloved 6502/6510 and Z80 etc instruction sets. The winner of the competition gets to run their code on the 'real thing'........ Oh, I must get out more!!

  7. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    There's something vaguely odd about a fan of a clapped out bodge like VB6 having a pop at Pascal.

    I'd suggest Object Pascal, or Delphi maybe.
  8. Clapped out old bodge that is used in 'the real world'.

    Those other two - what's the user base?

    And omg - the price of Delphi!
  9. I started with 6502, 6509, z80, moved on to 68000 and 80x86 and used BASIC, FORTH, C and, more recently, JAVA. One of the bugs in a home computer is mine.

    I taught Java when I was teaching the 'A' level and my feeling was that it worked well because it is a language that underpins a lot of web development and, whatever your opinion of the web in ICT, it is a good focus for the students.

    But it was the stuff that precedes programming that was also valuable. Designing some controllers using gates and timers gives some understanding of the the underlying principles. I've not taught the 'A' level very recently. Is that still part of the course?
  10. rubikwizard

    rubikwizard New commenter

    One thing that I find totally refreshing about this thread is that I have found there are teachers out there that passionately understand computers/programming etc. In my working life I hardly ever meet an 'ICT' teacher or trainee teacher that knows little more than using office apps.

    We can all argue over the virtues of this language or the other (old or new) but nothing will ever change when schools think that 'anyone can teach ICT' (certainly the case in my school and a lot of others locally).

    I am on the verge of leaving the subject or/and profession because of these reasons.

    I can say however that our local/LEA ICT advisor is a complete 'Geek' who used to program 8-bit computers and understands our concerns - not that he can do anything about them though!!! It is good o know that he at least is not a MS OFFICE junkie.!
  11. Having a latin day today:

    indocti discant et ament meminisse periti

    So there!
  12. rubikwizard

    rubikwizard New commenter

    I wish I learnt Latin, but it wasn't on the curiculum in my school.

    I have of course translated all your previous posts with various Google's and your last post is totally true!

    Eruditio ut progressio in vetus lingua est via porro!
  13. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    I've never taught Java but I wouldn't be sure how well the children coped with the curly bracket syntax. (I'm so used to it I can't really tell)
  14. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Which bug ? The Square Root one ?
  15. > Pascal is old stuff again!
    Whether it is old or new is besides the point. It was designed and implemented for use in universities specifically to teach GOOD programming practice. It still used in universities and colleges and makes an excellent stepping stone to other languages, including C++ and Java. Pascal does not offer the complexity of these languages and so can be safer/less confusing to the student e.g. no object polymorphism, concentrate on simple concepts such as looping, variables, types, procedures, functions, recursion, pointers etc.

    > OMG the price of Delphi
    The price of Delphi is no more of a barrier than any other tools that we use. If my school can afford a site license for some of the other rubbish that we have, it can certainly stretch to Delphi or any other programming language.

    As with the VB6 (the version I have was released in 2000), back versions are often available free with magazines or for download. IN a club or small group setting on a few laptops this is often feasible.

    As for the user base of VB6... serious programmers use C++ for speed and efficiency. Amateurs LOVE to tinker with VB though. They write some terrible programs. We LAUGH AT THEM. Bless.

  16. autismuk

    autismuk New commenter

    Actually 101011101 (sic ?) you can have your cake and eat it ; with Borland's Pascals after 5.5 (where I learnt OOP) you can either program in objects or you can completely ignore the object to the language and program in classic Pascal.

    It's an interesting point whether you should start with objects or not. You don't need to do Polymorphism/Inheritance as such, but just to work as components that are put together, as Delphi (amongst others) does, or using something like BlueJ in Java, or there's a similar tool in VS for C#/VB whose name escapes me at present.

    There are passionate people who want to change things out there, just not very many of them (us ?). (Even JB, when he's not a-mouldering).

    Whilst I don't personally care for VB6 it would be infinitely preferable to another stack of Powerpoint and Posters.
  17. JB,

    been away, if you email me at
    i will send you the the link to download vb 2008 express, c++ 2008 express, and dark basic 2008

    had no trouble with the network though we have had a £300k upgrade last summer and have a very brilliant network manager

    dominique (alias BTEC!)
  18. tosha82

    tosha82 New commenter

    I teach Java as part of the IB Computer Science course. I think it is tough for students to grasp objects, but for their future ability in programming I think you need to teach objects first.
  19. [10101010 wrote:]
    > serious programmers use C++ for speed and efficiency.

    No, serious programmers can express the complexity of the algorithms they are using in Big O notation and re-factor their code to reduce inefficiency (the 80x86 instruction set, with fun stuff like register windows, has long gone past the stage where re-writing your code in assembly is going to speed it up). Serious programmers can switch between languages as the task requires, or create their own if needed. Serious programmers can write unit tests for their software, or if they're /very/ serious programmers they can prove that a finite range of inputs will give a finite set of outputs.

    School pupils, however, need an investigative tool to let them express algorithms as easily as possible. It would also seem that today's pupils need something shiny and colourful so their attention doesn't wander too quickly. Has anyone else mentioned Logo yet? Designed as a teaching language (like Pascal), produces graphics, easy to start with, dialect of LISP so there's some proper computing concepts behind it.
  20. I've used VB6 (autisms favourite language) to teach loads of kids the basics(!) of programming for the Applied ICT GCE.

    They go to university where java seems to be used almost universally.

    They ***** and moan about how much more difficult it is to grasp than VB6.

    They tell me that kids who haven't done any programming at all before uni - which is, amazingly, the majority, find it horrilbe learning the basics using java. Many quit their courses altogether.

    res ipsa loquitur...

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