ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Learning to Program Computers on Your Own

Updated on January 14, 2011

hello world

<script type="text/javascript" >
	alert( "Hello Javascript World!" );

firebug: a visual debugger for javascript

screen-shot of firebug
screen-shot of firebug

Why not start with Javascript?

I know you have Javascript available to you, because you are reading this hub.

Javascript is somewhat limited in its ability to input and output data, because of necessary security restrictions its browser based environment imposes, but it is a rich enough language that you can learn a lot of basic programming techniques from it.

If you use Firefox and install the Firebug component, you also get a decent development environment to watch it do its stuff from.  All this is free and pretty convenient to setup.

...just a thought.  Back to the larger topic.

What topics to look up for self directed study of computer programming

It used to be that in order to learn to program, you needed to be a member of some special group.  If you were a student, your University might give you access to computers, if you took relevant courses. Or, you might have access to a computer through your employer. However, if you weren't a member of such a group, you were pretty much out of luck.

Fortunately, today if you just have a PC and access to the internet, you have all you need to learn computer programming. Academics worry a lot about what is a good first language to teach, whether it contains the essential programming concepts of the time, whether it is simple enough to teach a beginner, and so on.  Non-academics worry about what language is most in demand in the job market.  Conversely, I think any programming language could be used as a starting point for learning.  Once you learn one language, you can learn others as you need them. A number of languages are available as open source projects C/C++ (via gcc), Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, etc., or Javascript is already available within your browser.  You just need to pick a starting point.

What I think a self-directed learner would have difficulty with is knowing what concepts to study. 

If you know what your are looking for, you can probably google what you need.  The trick is in
knowing what to look for.  This is, perhaps, where I can help, maybe, not just beginners but also those who want to fill in some gaps in their knowledge.  Below I have a rough outline of topics I think every programmer should know.

data representation

    in memory: integers, floats, bits, pointers ...
    persistent: databases, files ...

control flow
    branches, loops, subroutines and functions

algorithms and data structures

    sorting and searching, trees, graphs, hashes, stacks

computational complexity

    big-O, NP complete/hard

conceptual frameworks

    objects, design patterns

working with others

    projects: source code, build, test, roll out, monitor
    networks: protocols, security


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • simeonvisser profile image


      7 years ago

      Just a tip: if you wish to improve your writing style you should guide the reader more. I'm familiar with what you are talking about but you should have an introduction that tells people about JavaScript, what is Firebug and why do I need it, why should I start with JavaScript when I wish to program computers on my own, and so on.

      Adding such information will improve the quality of your hub and will make it accessible to a wider audience. If you are new to programming then reading an article that starts with code won't be effective.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)