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Re: Perl as one's first programming language

by radiantmatrix (Parson)
on Apr 08, 2008 at 16:00 UTC ( #679010=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Perl as one's first programming language

Perl features that make Perl a good first language:

  • marking of variables with symbols (% @ $)
  • automatic garbage collection
  • simple set of types -- only array, hash, and scalar
  • expressive syntax (well, generally)
  • availability of modules via CPAN

Perl features that make Perl a poor first language:

  • strict and warnings are off by default
  • "tacked on" object support
  • confusing "config" variable names (e.g. $/)

Of course, good instruction can take care of all the negatives.

Personally, as much as its blasphemy here, I think Python is one of the best languages for learning about programming -- that's a good bit of what it was designed for, after all. That said, though, one could certainly do much worse than Perl.

And don't get me started on introducing programming by using Java -- I think that idea is perpetuated by instructors that want to keep people out of the field.

<radiant.matrix>
Ramblings and references
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Re^2: Perl as one's first programming language
by amarquis (Curate) on Apr 08, 2008 at 17:27 UTC

    My CS101, looking over the packed room on the first day, told us all sorts of things about CS. That most would end up dropping out, that many people in the room would be happier in another major, very hard work, the major doesn't even have room for an incoming class this size, etc. etc.

    One man left.

    After two weeks of trying to absorb the fundamentals of programming via Java, though, we lost 15-20 people. I'm thinking he could have skipped the speech and gone right to the Java, more bang for his buck! :)

    Seriously, though, I'm sure there were several amongst those who left who would have done fine and been happy, but were intimidated by Java. It has few virtues as a learning language.

Re^2: Perl as one's first programming language
by wazoox (Prior) on Apr 09, 2008 at 16:51 UTC
    Well I actually wasn't able to really grasp object orientation until I tried the very basic, "guts out" OO Perl. I didn't get it with Java, C++ or TurboPascal, but Perl shows you the inner machinery and that seems a pretty good thing for a teaching tool.

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