Re: Learning to code on the cheap
I don't want to become a coder, but I'd like to build up my technical[...]
knowledge so I can become more self-sufficient. I would do a google search,
but I'm not quite sure where to start: do I start by trying to build a
general understanding of programming, or do I just jump and try and learn a
language (currently I'm working in C++, but that will be changing - and
other products are written in other languages). I'd like to hear from other
technical writers who work at this level about how they gained the knowledge
This is my worm's-eye view of the subject of learning programming. I'm a 20-year technically-oriented tech writer, and I wouldn't mind being a programmer (or "developer" as I often hear them referred to), but even if I don't become a programmer, knowing a lot more about programming will help greatly in my documentation of APIs/SDKs.
Basically I have read books and dug into various websites. I have concentrated on books, so I haven't seen any "How to Learn C++" websites, although I'd be surprised if there weren't any. I have taken no official classes, although I plan to take some. But I have learned a great deal that has helped me in documenting APIs/SDKs.
As a complete novice, groping my way along blindly in the dark, I have found that programming is a very wide, deep, complicated subject, and it's hard to know where to begin.
I decided to start with C++, a vast and nasty language, because it is widely used, and because I figure everything else will appear easy in comparison. I discovered the book "Who's Afraid of C++" by Steve Heller, which has an extremely good learning gradient for a complete newbie. It comes with a C++ compiler, but unfortunately, it's several years old and it might be hard to get it running on anything later than Windows 98. Also, if you want to learn the very popular Microsoft Visual C++ development environment, this book won't help you. I also have several other "Learning C++" books. It's good to have more than one reference, because seeing the same concept described in different ways helps to round out your knowledge.
I've decided I would also like to learn some scripting languages, especially Tcl and Perl. I run across Tcl a lot in data communications companies, and Perl seems to be used nearly anywhere there is web development going on.
I also make friends with the progammers I work with at various clients, and ask them questions about programming (I'm not too afraid of making a fool out of myself). This gives me an idea of their reality, which helps me put my own learning in a real-life context. And it helps in knowing the audience for my API documentation.
NEED TO PUBLISH FRAMEMAKER CONTENT ONLINE? "Mustang" is a NEW single
sourcing tool for FrameMaker that lets you easily publish your content
online. No macro language required! http://www.ehelp.com/techwr-l3
Mercer University's online MS Program in Technical Communication Management:
Preparing leaders of tomorrow's technical communication organizations today.
See www.mercer.edu/mstco or write George Hayhoe at hayhoe_g -at- mercer -dot- edu -dot-
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.
Previous by Author:
Next by Author: Re: The saga ended - problem people are part of our profession
Previous by Thread: RE: Learning to code on the cheap
Next by Thread: Re: Learning to code on the cheap
Search our Technical Writing Archives & Magazine