[CLUG-chat] Intro into programming.

Jonathan Hitchcock jonathanh at adept.co.za
Thu Aug 3 09:09:36 SAST 2006

Brendon Gleeson wrote:
> I would suggest a "scripting language", whether or not you want to do 
> web development or not is your call, I started off with ASP which I 
> loathed and stagnated on, then I found PHP - which is probably the best 
> web scripting language to learn with, now I use RubyOnRails.

This keeps happening in these sorts of threads.  Somebody asks what 
language they should learn, somebody else recommends PHP, and then Neil 
or I (and a few others) wade in and try to explain how awful PHP is.

PHP is quick-and-dirty for small-scale web development, but it is 
terrible for anything else, *especially* learning to code, which Andrew 
has expressed an interest in.  It doesn't have support for half the 
concepts which you'd want to get your head around, and it promotes bad 

If he wants to learn to code well, he needs a language which encourages 
best-practice, and structured code, and so on.  Starting with a language 
which has bits of HTML thrown hey-nonny in the middle of your code is 
not the best way to do this.  You want more reasons?  It won't complain 
when you make mistakes.  It doesn't have a strong concept of 'type' 
(it's barely got a weak one).  The builtin functions have no naming 
convention and are confusing.  There is no scope at all, so your 
functions will start misbehaving due to namespace clashes, and being a 
newbie, you won't know why or how to debug it.  And so on, and so on, 
and so on.

Go with python.

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