[thelist] programming info

April april at farstrider.org
Wed Apr 19 17:43:24 CDT 2006

Even with significant learning, you're not at the point where you could 
just sit down and write a program like some would a short story.  No one 
ever reaches that point for an entire long project, and it takes some 
experience before people hit that point for small programs.

Pick a project.  Think about it extensively; brainstorm and write it all 
down.  Good newbie ones are a recipe box, a time clock... What will the 
project do?  What information will it need from a user?  What 
information will it figure out on its own?  What special tricks will it 
need to do (use database, send email)?  Then start writing a bunch of 
to-do lists.  The big to-do list might say "get information from user" 
and the smaller to-do list for that page might say "Have areas for name, 
password, email" and "Verify the password is long enough".  On your 
first pass, do the completely necessary stuff, and leave the less 
necessary stuff for the next pass.  Add more to the list as it occurs to 

Then look things up.  What tutorial had information about reading from 
forms?  Use google a lot.  O'Reilly books are good for laying on the 
table beside you, and the php.net documentation is great for reference 
too.  Having to look something up is not a sign you don't know what 
you're doing and should go back to the beginning of the tutorial.. it's 
a sign you need to write more programs (and maybe make yourself some 
flash cards later).

Feel free to stick me in your address book and send me more concrete 
questions later when you need it. I've moved pretty firmly into "novice" 
myself. ;)

John DeStefano wrote:
> I know this is a programmer-heavy community, so I would bet that a few
> folks may have thoughts on this (and a few more will want to pummel me
> with RTFMs!):
> I am not a Web developer by trade: I enjoy learning technology, I
> create rather simple sites for family and people who ask me to do so,
> and I would like to do much more than I already am (perhaps even for a
> living), but I am nowhere near calling myself a "developer" of any
> sort.  I've taken a few "Intro/101" classes on programming, and I
> understand the base fundamentals.  I've taken scores of self-paced
> tutorials in PHP, Perl, etc., and gotten through them, and I've been
> through a few books.  I would not consider myself technologically nor
> mathematically challenged; I write IT courses (although that may not
> mean anything to some, I understand what I'm writing) and most people
> who know me consider me a techno-geek (though I don't thoroughly live
> up to that honor).
> However, I always seem to hit a 'wall' when it comes to learning how
> to program or script.  I understand the basics (what's a variable? why
> declare a function? how do you print your name? etc.); I get the
> difference between WHILE and FOR loops.  But soon after reaching that
> point, the code morphs into what seems like a different language and I
> find myself just copying the code in a book, tutorial, etc., and not
> really understanding the what, why, or how behind it, or, worst of
> all, how to take what I just did and apply it to something I could
> create and use on my own.
> I'd really appreciate some constructive feedback: ideas on what may
> have gotten you started off on the right foot to learning, books or
> sites that helped you to better understand the process or how to
> recognize what constructs can and should be used in which situations. 
> Anything to give me a boost and help push me up out of this
> nowhereland between "beginner" and "novice".
> Thanks, as always, for your thoughts.
> Best,
> ~John

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