Programming for Absolute Beginners
You, Dear Reader, very likely don't need this information. I assume you're probably not a beginner. BUT, you likely KNOW a beginner. Share this information with them!
A bunch of people on Twitter discovered the MSDN Beginner Developer Center today. I tweeted it, figured it was a throw-away tweet and it was "re-tweeted" several dozen times. Apparently there's a hunger for Beginner content out there! Who knew? ;)
It's at http://www.msdn.com/beginner and here's some of the cool stuff. Tell your 12 year old and your great-aunt, Dear Reader. There may be a programmer inside one of them.
There's several tracks to go down, first the obvious Web Track and Windows Track, but also Aspiring Pro and Kid's Corner.
The Beginner Web Developer center has three tiers, so you can start at various levels of "beginner." You can even start at the VERY beginning with no understanding of how the web works and go from there. The "Introduction to the Web" Video is very good! I'm going to send it to my Mom.
This section has another nice video (in the absolute beginner part) in the style of "How Stuff Works" with an explanation of what an OS is, how a computer runs instructions, etc. It's a fun video. This section has lessons like "Life Before Mice" and "Problem Solving in Life and Technology."
Taking it from amateur to "professional" is the real trick. I personally like to say that we're ALL amateurs. I mean, if you can get a gold medal in the Olympics as an amateur, then who am I to call myself a professional?
Regardless, there's more than just programming skills involved, there's also working in groups, as a team, in an office and how the software lifecycle works. There's also sections on moving to ASP.NET from PHP and moving to ASP.NET from Classic ASP.
Do kids always get a korner because kids love alliteration? I assume so. They also get MS Comic Sans and other bright graphics to keep their tiny attention spans. Seriously, though, the videos are pretty cool and worth watching because it's fun to watch an 8 year old explain Object Oriented Programming.
- Video: What is the Internet - presented by kids
- Video: What are Objects and how does OOP work - presented by kids
As an aside, there's some really cool changes happening at MSDN...I've seen some artist comps and snuck stuff out before and used your feedback. I'm hoping to get a hold of some new screenshots and some insider stuff on the new low-bandwidth (and other) views for MSDN that will be launching soon. MSDN Libraries are getting faster, as fast as <2 second page load times worldwide is what I hear, so I'll try to dig up details on that also. More to come, soon.
Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
Along these lines (and Stefano's comment), there have been several in the UG community pushing for more "back to basics" presentations, but I think many people are afraid to admit that they're looking for that. And that's a shame. I've witnessed (sometimes very personally) several people struggling to learn a new advanced topic, who weren't willing to admit (even to themselves) that they didn't understand certain prerequisite concepts. They start to get frustrated, and feel inadequate. And when they try applying what they didn't really understand, they implement it poorly. All because of the fear of admitting that they need some "back to basics", and the perceived stigma for admitting that, especially in our field.
Kids can learn 1+1=2 rather than one plus one equals two.
I hope this site helps to alleviate some of the pain involved in entering in to the complex world of software development. Thanks Scott for the quick write-up!
I think the appeal of VB in this case is that it is almost English, and so would be easier for children to grasp than the various symbols used in C#.
It is great to see Microsoft putting some focus on kids. I was very surprised though to not see any mention of Microsofts Small Basic development IDE. That is a very cool introduction to programming for kids. I have introduced my 8 and 10 year old children to programming using it. They love it!
I really benefit from your site, thanks very much.
Whatever we do, god knows.
swf to wmv
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Some of the guests as well as the crowds lamented that there was little entry level information on the web for people approaching Microsoft technologies. Can this be a step in the right direction?