Advice for a beginning programmer

Hi all,

I'm new to this site and new to programming as well. I've spent some time going through an intro cs book that uses python as the language of choice.

I find the exercises interesting and engaging and I generally have had a favorable experience programming so far. I've gone through some of the basics with python like writing simple programs, basics of GUIs, manipulating strings, etc.

Now, the thing is I'm 25, I have my bacholors in environmental studies and two masters degrees in urban planning and landscape architecture respectively. I know, it would be quite a departure to pursue a career in programming at this point. Currently, I'm working as a geographic information systems intern. I've taken some GIS classes and have a lot of experience with making maps, doing spatial analysis etc. So what I'm thinking is maybe I can learn some solid programming skills and apply these skills in the field of GIS. From what I've seen, .net languages are the norm in this arena. Could you perhaps provide some guidance to me in terms of what languages or coures I should take at this point? Also do you think there is a demand in specific field? What about internet rich web mapping applications for mobile phones for example? Which languages are important to learn for that sort of stuff?


  • Quick and dirty is that net is the ability to use multiple languages through a code generation scheme into a language that is independent of any of the languages that can actually be used.

    Since you already have some Python experience you could start with IronPython which is the .net implementation of Python. Other languages that would be of interest would be VB, C++, and C#.

    I haven't done much in terms of internet/mobile development so I wont make conjectures as to what languages to use there.

    As for classes to take, CS classes can be sink or swim in terms of the quality of the class, depending on college and background of the professor. When I was originally looking around for a school to get my CS degree a lot of them were a joke. If you are good at picking things up by yourself and you aren't searching to get a degree there are lots of amazingly well written books on the topics. I would recommend staying away from "for dummies" books and "learn x in y time" books as these don't really explain the concepts of how language mechanics work and just kind of force incomplete ideas and concepts on you.
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  • I am in kind of the same boat and would like to get more into programming. What type of degrees do you recommend or what do you enjoy the most about programming? I was even looking into for maybe a good and quick way to get into it more, but I'm skeptical about online degree sites. Does anyone else have any experience with these?

    Thanks in advance.
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