Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Programming Road

I've always considered C to be my first programming language (subsequently I judge all languages against it). I picked up Learn C on the Macintosh in 1991. But it occurred to me today that I actually had done a little work in HyperCard and its HyperTalk language in 1988-90, I remember writing a small database for use in our family business. I guess I never thought of it as programming because:
  1. I really didn't know what I was doing
  2. It seemed very easy to get a result
Maybe that is why HyperCard was so popular, that and being installed on the early Macs. Nothing like free software that's easy to learn.

After painfully working through Learn C on the Macintosh, I actually started understanding some of the basics of programming. From there I moved to Prograph CPX at the end of 1993. In early 1994 I took a programming logic course that helped solidify my understanding of what was going on. The course was interesting, you didn't use a computer, just flowcharting and pseudocoding. That same year I picked up AppleScript to script QuarkXPress using Frontmost (later FaceSpan) to have a front end to my scripts, and in the fall I learned Lingo with Director 4.

I actually tried Director in 1993 and made an interactive portfolio for my company. It was with Director 3.1.1 and I was not too impressed. Version 4.0 of Director did impress me. I'd found the joys of Object-Orient Programming (OOP) thanks to Prograph CPX. With version 4.0 of Director, Lingo was now a powerful OO language.

I stayed with Director for several years, dabbling in JavaScript in 1997. That year also marked my first introduction to Java. I was not too impressed (deja vu!). I continued with Director until 2000, co-authoring two books on the subject and tech editing two more. That year I took an instructor job at Sun Microsystems. I taught several Java courses, a shell scripting course using Bourne and Korn, and learned the Vi text editor. I also picked up programming the C Shell in order to teach a course in it. In the shell scripting courses I was introduced to grep, sed, and awk. Awk I loved!

After leaving Sun, I got a job where I got to do a little Director again and was exposed to the classic ASP. I found I did not care much for ASP or VBScript. I learned to program in ActionScript with Flash 6 and the Flash Communication Server APIs. After that I migrated the company from VBscript and ASP to C# and ASP.NET. I learned SQL, I enjoyed pair-programming, and discovered Visual Studio was the best IDE out there. Along the way I got to briefly pick up and program in XSLT and created a .NET Windows Forms application.

After that job I came to StorageTek where I worked with the Docent LMS and CDS. The LMS used a server-side JavaScript that was a step up from classic ASP, but not a big step. I managed to make use of both my ASP.NET and Windows Forms skills. I tinkered a little with JavaScripting Photoshop for a project.

Sun bought StorageTek, so I'm back at Sun. But I'm not back using Java (yet), I'm actually learning Perl and MySQL.