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Tagoso
04-06-2007, 11:58 AM
Hi there,

If someone woke up one morning and decided they wanted to become a programmer, what would you suggest they do?

I have completed a BCom with a major in Info Systems - but only did COBOL programming for one year - and this was about 10 years ago :blush: My work experience since then has been in other fields - but I have always been a 'power user'.

I asked a programmer friend and he said they are always crying out for C# programmers (he's in the UK though). I downloaded Visual C# 2005 Express Edition and have been working through a tutorial-type book. I think I could do this for a living. Had a bit of a play with SQL Express also.

My BIG question is; where to from here?
I imagine that I would need to do some kind of course - but can't afford to take 19 weeks off work and pay $19000. Can anyone offer some suggestions / advice? I can only learn so much from books. I would even offer to do free work (of just about any type) in exchange for free or cheap tuition...

somebody
04-06-2007, 12:09 PM
Have you looked at doing extramural part-time study towards a degree in software engineering?

Tagoso
04-06-2007, 12:12 PM
Have you looked at doing extramural part-time study towards a degree in software engineering?
I have had a look at a number of courses but I never went as far as a degree. Who does an extramural part-time course like that? I can go looking for myself - but just wondered if you would recommend any particular institution?

somebody
04-06-2007, 12:22 PM
Most major universities and polytechs around the country (I assume you are in NZ?) offer part-time study as an option. If you're interested in C#, I believe Auckland/AUT/Waikato/Massey/Victoria/Canterbury/Otago universities all offer some courses in C#, though I'm not too sure to what extent and scope.

I know a person who has been working in the IT industry for quite a while who has decided to go back and study OO Programming part time. So on top of his full-time job, he's spending around 20hrs per week studying at Victoria University in Wellington - not extramural though - through some sort of arrangement with his current employer. It is a lot of hard work, so it really is a matter of you deciding whether its worth it or not.

Oh - and welcome to PressF1.

winmacguy
04-06-2007, 12:25 PM
You probably need to decide whether you want to write software for an OS like Windows, Mac (Unix, Carbon or Cocoa) or Linux or business systems like SAP or Oracle or for web and multimedia apps like AJAX, php, mysql etc and then look at investing in a course at a tertiary institute which would probably be quicker than teaching your self from a book but cost more.

You could get a programming book from either the library or somewhere like Borders or Tech Books who have books covering all programming languages.

Myth
04-06-2007, 12:35 PM
I asked this online (in IRC) and was told the following:

>there are three steps to learning a language well
>1.read lots of code. 2. write lots of code. 3. read more code.
>so in other words, find a few open source projects that use the language, pick the apart and figure out how they work
> when you see something you don't understand, look it up
> then try making some modifications to it
> start small, try to think of some useful and easy to add feature, and implement it
> get feedback on the code from somewhere, maybe a mailing-list or something
> then continue, make some larger additions, try the same thing with different software projects
> then move on to making something entirely from scratch, a semi-large projects that takes at least a few weeks to finish
> continue reading lots of code, and try to get feedback on your code when you can
> it certainly helps knowing c or even assembler before learning the higher level languages, even if you're never going to use it, you're going to produce better code because you know it
> you don't need to know those languages, you just need to know what really happensHope this helps in some way

Tagoso
04-06-2007, 12:57 PM
Thanks for your suggestions so far.
I think I will continue to 'play' with Visual Studio C# and try to learn as much as I can from books and online. Also as Myths' IRC message states, I will look at other people's code and understand it. Once I can do everything in my books 'blindfolded' that will tell me that I am capable and motivated enough to go spend some money on a course.

Somebody - thanks for the welcome and yes, I am in NZ (AKL).
WinMacGuy - I got my current book from TechBooks - it is a basic intro to Visual C# Express - once I master that I will go back for a bigger book.

winmacguy
04-06-2007, 01:03 PM
It would probably help to be able to code in more than one language as well.

somebody
04-06-2007, 01:45 PM
Tagoso: Have you had a look at the series of free C# training videos online?

http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express/beginner/default.aspx

There is a 17-part series on C#, from beginner through to advanced. They're buried under a series of different categories though in "Windows Development".

netchicken
04-06-2007, 03:46 PM
Can I just raise a hand for the non traditional languages such as php?

Heaps of programmers needed there. The opportunites are world wide.

Big John
05-06-2007, 08:10 AM
I taught myself to program in Assembly language (machine base code) for several different types of CPU's. I also taught myself Visual Basic which is very easy to use.
Just find some books on the language you want to program in, get the required tools, get plenty of examples and let rip.

somebody
05-06-2007, 09:36 AM
While its all well and good to teach yourself how to program, the big question is whether or not employers will hire you without a formal qualification in the field.

I don't have enough industry experience to be able to give you an answer to that - hopefully there'll be someone on this forum who regularly hires programming staff who can help.

dolby digital
05-06-2007, 11:00 AM
Having a degree helps. Often employers/job agencies filter by this, so your cv won't be thrown out the window yet :thumbs:

.Net is an in demand area or Java. A Microsoft Certification in .NET can do wonders for your job prospects (I don't have one :D )

GF, can you offer any advice?

Big John
05-06-2007, 01:29 PM
While its all well and good to teach yourself how to program, the big question is whether or not employers will hire you without a formal qualification in the field.

I don't have enough industry experience to be able to give you an answer to that - hopefully there'll be someone on this forum who regularly hires programming staff who can help.

Well I have a program that is in use every single day in a multi-million dollar dairy factory and if it does not work then the factory does not work.

TGoddard
07-06-2007, 10:59 PM
A good programmer is not a C# programmer or a Java programmer or a Microsoft programmer or an anything programmer. Specialties are all and well but a fundamental understanding is much more important.

I'm a student myself doing a graduate diploma. The greatest discriminator between people's abilities seems to be their willingness to learn and a good head for patterns and logic. Both of these can be developed but it takes hard work.

To call yourself a competent programmer you should be able to decompose a problem domain and solve it using at least one compiled and at least one scripting language. Examples of compiled languages are C, C# and Java. Examples of general purpose scripting languages are Python, Ruby or Perl. There are also many specialised scripting languages such as PHP or Javascript which may be useful for particular situations.

Once you have a solid foundation learning to use a new language will be a week's effort. Platforms and APIs can be learned for one project and the learning time will already have paid for itself by allowing you to always use the most suitable tool. Aim for the top.