Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Joys of a nice Programming Environment

If you click on the image for this post you can see a full size screenshot taking by me while programming today.

One thing that strikes me about programming is how important it is for the student to feel comfortable in their programming environment.

This was made very clear to me when I attended the AP Java workshop at Carnegie Mellon a few weeks ago. I left my Ubuntu laptop at home and used Macs exclusively that week. The first day I was feeling shell-shocked trying to code there. Things that I never think about were so hard to figure out. I use multiple desktops on Ubuntu and can quickly jump from my IDE to Firefox if I need to look something up. Of course I have Amarok playing in the meantime.

Now, all of that is absolutely easily done on a Mac--it just takes a while to get used to the new environment. By the end of the week at CMU I had developed a new like for Macs and I kind of miss using one at times. I've never really liked the Windows environment for programming, although I'm sure some people do.

The point is: students need time to adjust to the environment you use in class. This is even more true when you are using IDEs that students are not familiar with--like Eclipse.


The program I'm writing there on the screenshot is one of the programs from Think Python: An Introduction to Software Design by Allen B. Downey. If you have not read any of Allen's books on programming, check it out. Think Python is the main textbook for my Introduction to Programming class.

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