Exasperated over C++, C# and Visual BASIC

  TuxerTony 15:58 04 Dec 2004

Having just read many of the threads on C++, Visual BASIC and the like, I'd be interested to hear why people who are not and never aspire to be professional programmers do not use something a lot more easy to use and results-oriented, as I do. I have tried Java, C++ and C#, and find them all totally overblown, and an exasperating pain in the backside to do precisely what I want with.
I use the excellent, perfectly documented 'BBC BASIC for Windows' by RT Russell. Windows API calls are all documented, as is: Direct3D interfacing, using MIDI, embedding Intel Assembler.

I'm an Oxford graduate mathematician, and do some pretty complicated things in s/w ( see click here ), and I don't like the turgidity of the language getting in the way of what I'm trying to achieve.

Any comments?

  powerless 16:04 04 Dec 2004

I can't see the click here, seems you've just typed 'click here'.

  TuxerTony 16:09 04 Dec 2004

Don't know what happened there! My URL is:

click here

  Gemma 21:40 08 Dec 2004

I agree totally. After many years of exotica I have settled on PowerBASIC click here for procedural, SQL Tools click here for RDBs and VPE click here (Virtual Print Engine from Ideal Software) for printing. It's all fast, compact, reliable and PRODUCTIVE. If you are familiar with the horrors of printing in Windows then VPE will change your life.

A word to the wannabe programmers - start with a simple language first and grow otherwise you may well give up.....

  VoG II 22:13 08 Dec 2004

I'm pretty sure that you could do all of this in Microsoft Excel, using Visual Basic for Applications if necessary. You can use Lookup functions to do those incremental calculations for you.

Or why not just use Fortran? My all time fave :o)

P.S. I do not have a mathematics degree from Oxford.

  Taran 22:51 08 Dec 2004

Without getting into the qualifications side of things, language choices are often dictated by factors out of our control.

I wouldn't dream of inflicting a particular solution onto a client if a more suitable platform was available.

Too many people get caught up in the "I use XYZ because" trap when it often escapes them that despite or perhaps because of their rationale in choosing one platform over another they have potentially cut themselves off from a large portion of the market.

I supply solutions in ASP. I also do PHP, JSP and ColdFusion for the web and I'm just as happy working with MySQL as I am with MS SQL. I can tootle around with UNIX/Linux or Windows based platforms and I teach software engineering (among other things) using VB, C#, C++, JAVA (which I detest with an absolute passion for purely personal reasons) .NET and all kinds of other things.

Despite that, I have often been totally blown away with some of the solutions offered by individuals like VoG™ using his beloved Excel - proof, if any was ever required to begin with, that advanced knowledge of an application can lead to a solution. However, I'm sure he'd readily agree that Excel is not necessarily an ideal solution to all eventualities and/or requirements and neither is any other language or platform.

All of them have strengths and weaknesses and some are often more suitable to certain tasks and projects than others.

"It ain't what you use it's the way that you use it" is only a small part of providing solutions on a commercial level, although I'd agree that a lot of fun, some useful learning and even credible productivity can be had through some of the less than common languages.

Anyone thinking of a commercial future in mainstream programming would do well to pick one or more languages from those listed in the first post by TuxerTony.

A niche market is often just that.

  TuxerTony 23:36 08 Dec 2004

... in fact I already implied, that anyone intent on professional / commercial programming has no option but to use what their customer/employer would require them to use - and that would be Java or C or C++ etc.

HOWEVER - >99% of the populace are not professional / commercial programmers, and never will be.

I have met hundreds of professional programmers, mainly working on embedded solutions - and to a man they all use C ( NOT C++ !!) or whatever Assembler is relevant for the MicroController they're designing with; that's the reality of most UK professional s/w engineers.

If you're just an ordinary person wanting to get your 2GHz PC to do something interesting, I recommend my solution.

Excel is a marvellous invention - especially Pivot Tables, but you cannot do what I do in my programs in Excel. Solve six interdependant differential equations "on the fly" using the Improved Euler Method and display a quasi-real-time moving result? Don't be silly!

  Taran 00:09 09 Dec 2004

"99% of the populace are not professional / commercial programmers, and never will be."

I agree completely. And the same 99% of the population aren't in the least bit interested in programming of any description, regardless of language, platform or how effective anyone considers their method to be, real or imagined.

The fact that the "hundreds of professional programmers, mainly working on embedded solutions" you have met all use C is hardly surprising given that they are working on embedded solutions. It would be a different story if you had met lots of people programming cutting edge games console titles, or web applications used on Windows or Linux servers, or desktop Access or server-side MS SQL database projects, or JAVA games for mobile phones, or...

Well, you get the idea.

Perhaps most Excel users would not want to do the things your programs do to begin with.

Perhaps if they did they might find alternative solutions or even do what VoG™ so often does and think outside the box, apply an intimate knowledge of a product and come up with something entirely remarkable, often totally unexpected, and usually devastatingly effective.

I hope your "Don't be silly!" comment was meant in jest - there are some extremely talented and knowledgeable people in this forum who often bowl me over with their capabilities and specialisations.

People who want to program are in the very small minority to begin with. Of them, an even smaller minority want or need to depart from the mainstream and of them, a fraction will stay with it long enough to do something useful with it and the rest will either give up and head back with the mainstream or just give up entirely.

On a purely personal level, I normally suggest Python as an excellent starting grid for those wanting to 'dabble'. It's relatively easy to learn, very capable, well documented, a lot of fun compared to some alternatives, cross-platform since you can Python away if you want to on Linux, Windows and Apple Mac OSX and it is mostly free or extremely low cost to play with.

I've seen some relatively simple VBScripts on servers that were so well applied to a specific task they stood head and shoulders above an incredibly complex C++ program of mundane purpose.

Aside from being a largely academic discussion I'm not really sure where this is heading.

The simplest answer to why most people, regardless of ability, do not go off on a tangent away from the mainstream is very possibly because if they can't get their heads around one of the better known languages, what incentive might they have to dip a toe in something they've never heard of, that no college offers in any standard course, or that no employer (potential or current) might be remotely interested in ?

Anyone who sticks with one method over another long enough or passionately enough will demonstrate an ability to adapt their output to almost any situation. If VoG™ doesn't mind me blowing his trumpet again he is a prime example - his Excel abilities are truly amazing.

For my own part, the language I prefer is not always the one I recommend to clients as a long term solution to a problem. There are other influencing factors than preference and I suspect the same could be said for those would-be programmers, regardless of whether they ever cross the path into the commercial arena.

You have an obvious preference and therefore, I suspect, a slightly bias opinion ;o)

Finally, the single best programmer I have the pleasure to know who has been involved with more games console and computer games titles than I care to remember loves nothing more than JAVA; on an Amiga !

Go figure.

  Taran 00:16 09 Dec 2004

I've not yet met hundreds of professional programmers, despite many years in software engineering as both a software engineer and lecturer on the subject.

Perhaps I need to find a different pub...


  TuxerTony 08:27 09 Dec 2004

My point essentially was that nowadays only a very small proportion of the UK professional programmer fraternity are working on PC applications. A lot of VB support-work has shifted off to India, for example.

I'm sure Python is an alternative to "BBC BASIC for Windows", but the latter is extremely well documented and maintained - and you certainly do not need to attend a college course to learn to use it. Neither is much use for professional programmers, but then they're explicitly not the people I'm suggesting have a go at a bit of programming - as many people used to do.

It's the difference between being a DIY-er and a professional builder, or a first-aider versus a doctor.

  Taran 16:51 09 Dec 2004

but I'm still really struggling to see your point.

I agree that a lot of VB support work and many other elements of IT have shifted over to India but the UK still enjoys a healthy professional programming headcount and long may that continue.

Python isn't really an alternative to BBC BASIC for Windows which you clearly feel very passionately about. Well, I suppose that to an extent you could argue that it is, but I rather think we'd be seriously going off on one if we went down that road.

I think we can agree that a tiny proportion of people are interested in programming of any sort. I think we can also agree that of that fraction, an even smaller number are in it out of fun or curiosity. I think it is also reasonable to assume that most people would lean strongly towards a known quantity and choose a language they have heard of and who could possibly argue with that decision ?

Your concept of anyone being "an ordinary person wanting to get your 2GHz PC to do something interesting" is in itself interesting. I imagine that your personal preferences for 'interesting' projects may not be shared by a great many people - how many forum members do you think may have the slightest notion regarding solving "six interdependant differential equations "on the fly"...etc," ?

I'm not trying to burst your bubble and this is not personal criticism but the fact that so few people have chosen to enter the fray of this thread could be thought indicative of certain facts. Think of it as a straw poll if you like and draw your own conclusions from the above.

Most people use a computer to surf the web, email and chat, manipulate images from their digital camera, possibly do a bit of home movie editing, but the vast majority of computing time will be spent in Word and Excel, by and large.

What makes you think that any of these users are even remotely interested in programming at all ?

People like to install an application, use it and close it down when finished. They want their computer and programs to work when required, be efficient and aid output, preferably wrapped in a nice interface.

Programming for kicks is very nearly dead and I don't see that changing any time soon, regardless of language or interpreter. I'm quite happy to be corrected by anyone who wants to display a "quasi-real-time moving result" of course, and on a purely personal note I would honestly like to see an increased interest in general programming. I'm not going to hold my breath though.

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