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Re: Learning Perl as a First (programming) language

by PetaMem (Priest)
on Aug 02, 2002 at 08:58 UTC ( #187024=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Learning Perl as a First (programming) language


What are your personal experiences if you've started with Perl, or how well have others around you learned Perl as a first language?

I personally started with perl in 1996 after having tried C++ (which came after C, which came after GFA-Basic). Even if I put aside the encounters with in-school programming languages such as Scheme, CL, ML, Pascal I could say, that I found Perl in a phase of mine, where my programming skills were - well - skilled.

What I can make statements about, is now the aproach of some employees here that also started with perl a few months ago. All of them had one or another programming experience in general and some programming languages knowledge as such.

The most interesting facts are:

  • I think that the high idiomatic richness of perl has sharpened my point of view "how to do it" in a way that the TMTOWTDI type of thinking opened "new pathways" in my brain. I think perl helped me to improve my programming skills in general by offering constructs that seem to fit more of a natural thinking (instead of the formalized thinking of the more low level languages).
  • But we were talking about beginners: So I am very carefully watching the colleagues learning perl. My observation is, that when an average - but ambitious - programmer is confronted with perl AND if he is forced to have GOOD results in his code, he will go through a major change in his type of problem solving and he will of course encounter far too many ways of how to do it.
    Yes - in general a programmer wishing to harness most (if not full) of the power of Perl will soon see, that he needs to learn a damn lot more than he already knows.
  • I don't have any experience with first-time programmers starting with perl, but according to my experience it absolutedly cannot hurt. Why? Because even the fresh perl code generated by programmers already keen in some programming arts, looks in the first iterations like some kind of perl-basic.
So my conclusion is: Perl is absolutedly suitable as first-to-learn-language, as long as the programmer is aware of the many refactoring iterations his software will have to go through.


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[Corion]: marto: How's things? I hope the kids are fine and you too!
[Corion]: Oh yay. I wonder why a very simple change in a program doesn't elicit a diff, and now I see that my diff program seems to have a bug ;)
[1nickt]: marto thanks for asking, so far so good. A pretty modern stack and decent procedures, although rather too much home-built stuff (e.g. a logging role that should tries to duplicate Log::Any).
[Corion]: No. It's just that I'm comparing the same output file twice, instead of comparing the output files of the two runs %-)
[Corion]: Lo and behold, running a program with the correct input files yields the correct (and expected) output. Yay me.
[1nickt]: Got a MacBook and am expected to develop directly on it, ironic given the recent thread about that.
[marto]: Corion, some not too serious issues with the kids, hopefully, other than that just dealing with commuting by car again in the winter, not much fun so far, and there's no real 'bad' weather yet :)
[marto]: 1nickt, glad to hear it, I'm sure you'll bring improvements to their stack in due course ;)

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