Learn Computer Programming with Free Tools
It is a great time to want to get involved with building some applications on your pc or mobile device. Open Source, is a term used to refer to an ideal among computer professionals that says all software should be free. To prove their point these professionals get together, virtually and work on software projects that is free for the public to download and use. If you want to learn how to program for your computer or even take on an enterprise project the tools are available and are free, or donation based.
First if you want to learn and use a computer language such as C++ or JAVA to build a windows or Linux application you will need what is called a compiler that will build your specific code into the common machine language that your computer understands. There are a wide variety of languages to choose from that take care of any development you can think of from pc to web.
Writing your code for these compilers can be done in tools as simple as notepad in windows or any text based editor program that does not add extra, hidden markup characters like Microsoft Word does. However writing code in a simple tool such as this requires that you, the programmer have absolute command over the language. Programming a web application will likely take several languages such as xhtml, xml, css, php, etc. Programmers in general are a lazy lot and do not want to remember all the nuances of each of these languages. So in order to help with the syntax of code a code snippets that may be available as well as visual components for application and web pages you will need an IDE or integrated development environment. This is a tool that will work with the designated programming language providing reference and shortcuts for the programmer as well as taking care of any build or compilation processes needed to deploy an application.
Two of the best and well accepted IDEs are Eclipse and NetBeans. Both of these tools work with a wide variety of languages that are packaged in what is called a plug-in. These two tools are free as is most of the plug-ins that you will need to program. Some plug-ins or applications may cost while others may be donation based; where if you use and like you are welcome to contribute to support the developer. Most of the smart phone operating systems have plug-ins for some of these tools.
Both of these tools install easily and are pretty straight forward if you know a little about computers. Netbeans is a little more robust and I thought easier to learn. Eclipse takes a little more research to learn but is accepted by more third party organizations. Most of the smart phone manufacturers have plug-ins distinctly built for Eclipse while it takes a little creative installation for Netbeans. Netbeans, however, is a true unified tool in that no matter what language you program in the environment will look and function similar with slight distinctive variations while Eclipse has a different look, feel called personality for each language. They both have plenty of features to make coding in a particular language a little easier.
In addition to the open source tools, Microsoft provides free trimmed down versions of all their language IDEs that you can download and use for free. Do not expect to write enterprise wide software with these tools but they work and are great to learn a new language.
If you want to learn to program a computer, develop for the web or learn a new programming language you can get started for no money up front. Not ten years ago if you were not in school a development tools ranged from several hundred to several thousands. Now you can learn and develop robust applications for free. The tools are the resources are out there and the best way to learn is to jump right in. Once you get the basics of programming in one language down others become easier and faster to learn.
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