What's a good first programming language, without install?

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davetp425
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What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby davetp425 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:07 pm UTC

My girlfriend is curious about what programming is like, since I've talking about this fun Scheme class I'm in. I was going to teach her some Scheme or learn Python with her but she doesn't want to install anything since her laptop is so terrible. Does anyone have any ideas for a good first programming language that doesn't require an install? Javascript maybe?

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Carnildo » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:21 pm UTC

If you don't want to install anything, your options are pretty limited. Assuming this is a fairly standard Windows system, you've got Javascript, batch scripting, and maybe VBScript. I can't recommend any of these as a first programming language.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Vault » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:24 pm UTC

The problem with javascript is that it pretty much requires that you learn the HTML that goes along with it. I'd recommend the Python. Installing it should be painless, even on a terrible laptop.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Berengal » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:24 pm UTC

Internet to the rescue!

http://codepad.org/NcDZl42W
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby hotaru » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

i'd recommend factor. simple syntax (simpler than lisp) and no install required, just download, unzip, and run.

Code: Select all

factorial product enumFromTo 1
isPrime n 
factorial (1) `mod== 1

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby You, sir, name? » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:34 pm UTC

hotaru wrote:i'd recommend factor. simple syntax (simpler than lisp) and no install required, just download, unzip, and run.


How is that not an install? Heck, that's basically how the slackware package system works*.

* Not quite, but not far from the truth.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby qbg » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:54 pm UTC

Learn to directly control the butterflies so she can flip the needed bits to write a machine code program.

(more seriously, just install something)

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby davetp425 » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

Berengal wrote:Internet to the rescue!

http://codepad.org/NcDZl42W


Perfect! This looks like a great demo. I can use this to convince her to get IDLE.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby lulzfish » Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:27 pm UTC

There's also a live demo of Lua, which is similar to nothing like Python but I think it's cooler:

http://www.lua.org/cgi-bin/demo
Last edited by lulzfish on Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:56 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby thoughtfully » Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:50 pm UTC

http://www.portablepython.com/

Lua is a spare language designed to be embedded in other programs. It takes a creative interpretation to consider them similar. They're both have dynamic typing and are freely available, but that could apply to javascript, Perl, or others, as well.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Vault » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:53 am UTC

Just thought of this. If you aren't dead set on Python you can feel free to Try Ruby. (its current incarnation doesn't completely work, but should be enough to get started)

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Earlz » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:45 am UTC

I would recommend ruby along with Why's Poignant Guide(you'll have to search hard for a archive of it though)

or maybe C/++ if you feel like being "rough" lol
also you could buy her a TI-83+ and teach her TI-Basic.. a little annoying to use though lol.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Vault » Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:49 am UTC

The Poignant Guide is up and running here.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby davetp425 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:54 pm UTC

Earlz wrote:I would recommend ruby along with Why's Poignant Guide(you'll have to search hard for a archive of it though)

or maybe C/++ if you feel like being "rough" ¡This cheese is burning me!
also you could buy her a TI-83+ and teach her TI-Basic.. a little annoying to use though ¡This cheese is burning me!.


Oh, I completely forgot about that; she has a TI-84. I'm not going to try C/++ though; I really don't know it myself and would probably do more harm than good.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby CortoPasta » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:22 pm UTC

If she has Excel, just program in VBA using their macro editor

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Philwelch » Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:37 pm UTC

CortoPasta wrote:If she has Excel, just program in VBA using their macro editor


Please don't, it's a terrible language.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby scarecrovv » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:34 pm UTC

davetp425 wrote:
Earlz wrote:I would recommend ruby along with Why's Poignant Guide(you'll have to search hard for a archive of it though)

or maybe C/++ if you feel like being "rough" ¡This cheese is burning me!
also you could buy her a TI-83+ and teach her TI-Basic.. a little annoying to use though ¡This cheese is burning me!.


Oh, I completely forgot about that; she has a TI-84. I'm not going to try C/++ though; I really don't know it myself and would probably do more harm than good.


I would absolutely not teach her TI-Basic as a first language. She will hate it, and will generalize this hatred to all languages. Practically anything else would be a better choice.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Cosmologicon » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:59 pm UTC

CortoPasta wrote:If she has Excel, just program in VBA using their macro editor

While VBA in Excel is a pretty poor general-purpose programming language, there's something to be said for learning problem solving with a spreadsheet. That would introduce a few programming concepts, though not the ones you usually learn first in CS 101.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby bocochoco » Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:24 pm UTC

Php wouldn't be a bad idea, though she would probably have to learn HTML along with it. There are a lot of hosting companies who offer a free limited plan with php. All you need is a text editor and ftp software.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Earlz » Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:48 am UTC

yea.. TI-Basic isn't the prettiest language though I wouldn't call it a horrible way of getting into programming.. it's structure is really pretty straight forward and there is always time to kill in math classes..

I still recommend Ruby.. very simple to install and use.. even "a bad laptop" can run it and it's amazing interactive shell.. .plus you learn functional programming and OOP stuff(and bits of procedural?)
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Unparallelogram » Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:57 am UTC

BASIC would teach the wrong ideas about abstraction and program design. The exact extent of GOTO's evilness depends on who you ask, but I don't expect much support for teaching it as a primary form of control flow.

VBA feels too much like a failed attempt at making programming look like English, in my opinion, and even then it does a bad job.

While I understand your desire to remove the need for initial time investment, consider that learning programming will take much longer than setting up a language, and you might as well go to the length of getting a good one. Setting up either Python or Ruby, for example, will take you likely a total of five minutes, and the space required is minimal.

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Cleverbeans » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:21 pm UTC

davetp425 wrote:I was going to teach her some Scheme or learn Python with her but she doesn't want to install anything since her laptop is so terrible.


You can run python from a USB key, no install required. I have no tried and true methods for dealing with an irrational fear of installing passive software.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby LakatosIstvan » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:58 pm UTC

A good programming language? With no installing?

My friend, I present to you... Processing!!! (trumpets)

Processing is a really nice programming language based on Java, which you only have to download and just run it ( considering that her laptop has Java installed on it, which I suppose it has ).
Processing is a really nice medium to introduce someone to programming, it's only a little Javaish, but one can quickly cope with it. What's really nice about it is that it's more visual oriented, one doesn't only get to input to the console at the beginning, you get to do all sorts of nice stuff to your screen. Instant visual feedback.

The only bummer is learning how to program in it. There isn't very much tutorials on it on the Internet, the most comprehensive sources are in books, but if you're good at scavenging you might find enough stuff on the Internet to get things going and then you can get crazy creative.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby greysquare » Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:45 pm UTC

How about using a linux liveCD? If her laptop is crappy because it's running windows, then it'll solve that problem without ever touching the hard drive. Most liveCDs will at least have python and a text editor installed, which is all you really want.

If you're really lucky, she might even prefer linux!

Good luck!

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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Emu* » Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:38 pm UTC

My girlfriend prefers my Ubuntu desktop and laptop over her larger Vista laptop, but that's been waaay unreliable.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Area Man » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:20 pm UTC

I've suggested this before around here:
SQL. It's "high-level", immediately (as well as long term) useful, applicable outside of just computer programming, and useful in combination with any other programming language. Add to it javascript and HTML for interfacing and you're cooking.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby minno » Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

I would absolutely not teach her TI-Basic as a first language. She will hate it, and will generalize this hatred to all languages. Practically anything else would be a better choice.


Hey, TI-BASIC was my first language! I'll admit that I did go a little crazy with the GOTOs at first, but I don't use them at all anymore.

For first languages, I suggest Python (my 2nd), even though it does take an install. The minuscule amount of computer resources is definitely worth the ease and usefulness of Python.

I'm currently learning Java. It's really not that bad, but it would SUCK as a first language. It brutally forces object oriented programming on you, which can get a little confusing to start. I suggest Python because it provides the option to use OOP, without forcing it.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Earlz » Fri Oct 09, 2009 12:54 am UTC

minno wrote:
I would absolutely not teach her TI-Basic as a first language. She will hate it, and will generalize this hatred to all languages. Practically anything else would be a better choice.


Hey, TI-BASIC was my first language! I'll admit that I did go a little crazy with the GOTOs at first, but I don't use them at all anymore.

For first languages, I suggest Python (my 2nd), even though it does take an install. The minuscule amount of computer resources is definitely worth the ease and usefulness of Python.

I'm currently learning Java. It's really not that bad, but it would SUCK as a first language. It brutally forces object oriented programming on you, which can get a little confusing to start. I suggest Python because it provides the option to use OOP, without forcing it.


How do you use TI-BASIC efficiently(as in, without tons of external programs) without GOTOs? was there some call or gotosub funciton that I missed?

Python? well.. idk about a learning language.. but I don't much like it lol

Yes, Java is Core.Hell.Satan.Language... and to think it's the language chosen by the AP test(which is suppose to be first time programmers).. it's really hard to grasp certain things in it for a beginner..

Why exactly is OOP such a needed thing for success anyway to be mandated by the AP test? I think if you don't know OOP when you start programming, you soon will on your own anyway cause it's really pretty simple concepts once you know how to program
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby minno » Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:19 pm UTC

Earlz wrote:How do you use TI-BASIC efficiently(as in, without tons of external programs) without GOTOs? was there some call or gotosub funciton that I missed?


Well, I mostly make math programs without complicated structures now, and when I need some kind of structure I just use while/for/repeat loops.

One of the first programs I made was a very basic space shooter game. It involved about 5-10 different programs (one base, one init, one for shooting, one for generating each asteroid, one for getting hit...), and I used a lot of GOTOs in it. Once I got better at programming (there was a really great wiki I used that may not exist anymore), I went through some of the subprograms and edited out all of the GOTOs and replaced them with other command structures.

There's an extra reason that GOTOs are evil in TI-BASIC. If you use a GOTO to break any loop that ends in an "end" statement (if...then, if...then...else, while, for, repeat), it doesn't release the memory, so it causes a memory leak.

The only time I still use GOTOs in TI-BASIC is with a very specific built-in construct called a "menu," which goes to a certain label for each option you can choose.


This is getting a little off-topic, so if you want to reply to this use the messaging function. I don't want to hijack this guy's thread.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:56 pm UTC

Berengal wrote:Internet to the rescue!

http://codepad.org/NcDZl42W
...how can this be safe for them? O.o
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby Berengal » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:51 pm UTC

http://codepad.org/about wrote:Code execution is handled by a supervisor based on geordi. The strategy is to run everything under ptrace, with many system calls disallowed or ignored. Compilers and final executables are both executed in a chroot jail, with strict resource limits. The supervisor is written in Haskell.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby ash.gti » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:55 pm UTC

'; DROP DATABASE;-- wrote:...how can this be safe for them? O.o

suexec + chroot + a small timeout

Go put an endless loop in there, they kill things after like 3-4 seconds it seems. And if you sandbox things with a chroot jail you should be okay.

Some other higher level process management is involved for sure, but its not impossible to protect yourself and let people do things like that.
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Re: What's a good first programming language, without install?

Postby dean.menezes » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:44 am UTC

There is a Scheme interpreter written in Javascript over here:
https://csel.cs.colorado.edu/~silkense/js-scheme/


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