(Warning! Major geekness in this one 🙂
My youngest son is 13 now and his report card looks a lot like mine did. Good in math and science, sucks at literature. He’s pretty much a twin, although he’s way more interested in sports than I was at that age. And looking back, I guess I was about that age when I started getting interested in programming. My best friend’s dad had an HP “portable” computer he used at work and we used to fool around on it trying to make it do stuff.
It was a pretty exciting time back then in the late 70’s as home computers were born. TRS-80’s came into existence and were the first machines I wrote for, or at least typed my first programs into while hanging out at the local Radio Shack (and, yes, that was in Regina, too). There was no way my family could afford one. And taking a look around my house now with three laptops and two desktops for four people, my kids are way spoiled!
So, I was at the book store the other day, looking to see what people were writing books about (in case the urge to write one ever overcomes my wife’s objections :), I saw a copy of “Game Programming for Teens”. It looked simple enough for a 13 year old to pick up and it uses a version of BASIC, just like I did when I started. And it’s about making games, which he has expressed interest in, so I picked it up. Yesterday, he typed in his first program, the same program everyone types in when learning a new language. The eternal “Hello, World!”. I was a proud papa, in the geekiest way a dad could be I guess. And I can tell by his enthusiastic “This stuff is confusing (meaning complicated), but I get it!”, he’s started down that same path that I did.
But what makes me a little upset, though, is that there isn’t such a book to get kids started using Eclipse. The BlitzBasic demo that came with the book is one ugly IDE. I showed my son the CDT and it looks way more impressive. This is one reason I’d like to see Wascana become the IDE of choice for desktop hobbyists, and why I focus so much on supporting the grassroots of our industry with the CDT. If we can get people using Eclipse early in their careers, then it should be a much easier sell when those people come shopping for our products that are built on Eclipse. At least that’s the dream, but I fear we still have a long way to go before making that a reality.