‘C’ is For Coding; That’s Good Enough For Me

If you haven’t noticed already, there seems to be a trend of various coding practices that I tend to agree with. This is not merely a case of “kissing up” to the professionals, but rather it is the fact that I know I have been taught from the ground up by well-respected individuals. Many of the practice patterns found in “Apprenticeship Patterns” are ones that I have already been aware of, or still agree with despite their novelty. An additional agreement to add to this repertoire is the importance of “Your First Language”.

For me, this “first language” was C. To be honest, I don’t feel like there is a better option to select. C is an excellent, “mid-level” language that follows many of the practices found within my studies. For example, in “Apprenticeship Practices”, the book warns of becoming stuck within your “native tongue”; I feel as though this is negated (or at least parried) by many of the practices in C. C works closely with hardware, and involves skills found in assembly language, but can also be used to emulate higher level languages such as Java.

When it comes to my professional career, “my first language” is a philosophy that has given me a greater appreciation for the diverse landscape of large-scale projects. The C language has elements similar to Python, such as arrays. While data structures are not an impressive connection (they can be implemented among pretty much any language), it does make crossing the gap easier. Once at Python, I can learn about dictionaries, “key: value” pairs that can have an ideological equivalent found in .yaml files and JSON, and so on.

Interestingly enough, despite the emphasis on programming diversity, the pattern stresses finding a first language and staying strictly to its community. I feel mixed emotions about this philosophy: on one hand, it sounds as though “bridging gaps” found between languages should be avoided. On the other hand, constant practice is the best way to learn a first language, and that practice can be boosted by feedback from a desired community around that language.

Overall, I have an appreciation for the idea that beginner programmers should stick to one language when starting out. However, if I were to make a suggestion for that first language, I would suggest C. While challenging to learn, its connections to other languages and diverse applications can make powerful programmers.

Published by Mike Morley (mpekim)

Current student at WSU. Knowledgeable of C/C++, Java and Python. Always interested in learning the basics of as many languages as possible.

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