Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Are You a Wader Or a Diver?

I wrote a post yesterday about learning new languages, and how incredibly valuable it is to deepening your understanding of programming. So today I sat down to start learning Perl*. That brought up an interesting question:

Am I a Wader?


Am I a Diver?

Waders are the kind of people who start to learn a language by getting a good grasp of the fundamentals of the language. They follow tutorials, read articles on the history and philosophy of the language involved, and generally work their way up from the basics.

Divers are the kind of people who jump right in and start working on the project that has caused them to start learning the language. They generally figure that they know what they're trying to accomplish, so they'll pick things up as they go along.

I'm definitely a Diver.

As a Diver, I have a hard time with tutorials and the like. Sure, I've tried them, and sure they taught me things. But I walk away from a good tutorial figuring that I know a lot... and then I can't do much with it. It doesn't string together for me until I've applied it. Skipping directly to the application of the new language is a great way to identify how it functions. On the downside, I find that because of my grasp of the language is lacking.

So all you Waders out there, be sure you know how to apply all your new-found knowledge, how to string it together in a program.

All you Divers out there, be sure you actually understand why things work, instead of just finding that they work. Be very careful of language areas and niceties that you haven't found yet.

Which are you.... a Wader... or a Diver?

* Why Perl? It's very widely used across the company I just joined, and I see no reason to launch a huge and probably futile effort to change that. Plus, it comes up a lot as a quick and easy test automation language, so it's good to know.

1 comment:

  1. If you're gonna read a tutorial on learning Perl, you might as well get our aptly titled "Learning Perl". The exercises are designed to give you that "hands on" feeling, and I'd be curious to see your particular opinion on the book after you read it. You can send me feedback at merlyn@stonehenge.com, my far-too-well-known address. :)