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Tools of the trade

Programmers are just like any tradesman. We have several tools in our tool box that we use to make our lives easier. Over the next few blog entires, I will be exploring some of the tools programmers have in their tool boxes. As a tradesman you are expected to know how to use your tools to their fullest and to be able to pick which tool is the best one for the job.

Some of the tools a programmer will need include: In depth knowledge of your chosen platform – Operating System, understanding of your primary object oriented language, a passing knowlege of one procedural language and one scripting or text manipulation language, mastery of your chosen editor and IDE, knowledge of your chosen shell, the ability to debug, knowledge of web programming including HTML, a library of technical books that you can readily refer too, humility.

My primary OS is Linux, but I also use Windows XP Pro. So knowing as much as possible about both OS’s is not as easy as knowing all about only one. My primary OOP language is C# and my scripting language is Python. My editor is Gvim the Gtk port of ViM. My shell is BASH, on Windows, I use Cygwin. I use PHP for web work and sometimes Zope, My library of technical books is too large to list. Many books on Linux, Python and C#.

I will also be reccomending books on coding and anything else the least bit related to the art of programming. These will include essays and blogs by established hackers who should be known to all coders. Just like in any profession, you should know who is at the top of your field and what they did to get there. A fair amount of programmng history is also required to understand the jargan and the reason certain things are done the way they are.

If you think you might want to learn to program, get a Linux box, open a terminal and type “python”. Then get yourself a copy of Learning Python by Lutz and Ascher. Then code and code and code until you start to dream in code. Take a breaks occasionally, to watch a movie or learn about Linux. But nobody ever learned how to program by reading a book. You must do and do it often.

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