Objective C (OT)

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I'm going to be teaching a young girl how to program a computer this
summer, and I've been thinking about likely candidates for a starter

I've about settled on Objective C, primarily because of its use in
mobile apps, but secondarily because I don't know it and would like to
learn a little something about it. (The other two I thought about were
JavaScript and Python).

Two quick questions:

1. What's the 'best' reasonably priced book that's strong on the
basics and not too technical?

2. Is there any real good reason not to start off a young girl on this
language? My main goal is to show how source code turns into an
executable on a computer -- I don't want to get bogged down into heavy
duty stuff.

Thanks, CC.

Re: Objective C (OT)

On 5/15/12 4:02 PM, ccc31807 wrote:
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(1) I liked Cocoa and Objective-C by O'Reilly.
Like you I am interested in Objective-C just because of
its use by Apple. This book seemed to be a good introduction to both.
If I ever move beyond the basics I might invest in a book dedicated
to Objective-C but this is enough for now.
(2) I think that there is no reason whatsoever to not use this language.
I learned to program with Fortran and Pascal. Plenty of people learned
to program in Assembly. People need to give children more credit. The
move towards high level languages to teach basic programming is a bad
one imo. As her instructor its up to you to pace the lessons and
introduce more advanced concepts when she is ready. It may take longer
to get to interesting data structures than if you used say, Perl
but she is young so she has the advantage of time to learn difficult
concepts on her side. Just be sure to keep it fun to hold her interest.
I wonder though, just how young is "young"? I doubt many children under
the age of 12, say, have the attention span necessary to really engage
in a big project. From what I remember of learning to program in junior
highschool and highschool projects tended to be very focussed and
pretty short. From a pedagogical standpoint that may make sense (IANAT)
in that many short projects teaches and re-inforces more than one big
project. Thinking of books like K&R's C and even The Little Schemer
that approach is used for a far more advanced audience so it is likely

Re: Objective C (OT)

Thanks for all the replies, guys, but the question is now moot.

The girl is ten and attends a computer magnet school. She will be in
the 5th grade, and while there isn't any programming now, later on
they will get C++ and Java.

I was told last night that the 'language' of choice is HTML. This is
actually fine by me, because not only can I leverage the excitement of
a public site (giving her a domain for < $15.00) but I can also teach
command line FTP, and later on start small with JavaScript, and even
later (like in the coming years) delve into server side programming
and databases (perhaps via Java and JSP).

Thanks again for the replies and also thanks for the absence of flames
for an OT topic.


Re: Objective C (OT)

ccc31807 wrote:

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How young exactly?

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Without knowing much apart from a quick glance, unless the objective is
specifically to demonstrate writing an app for an iPad/iPhone, I suspect
Obj-C is a bit obtuse - and limited in the sense it's not so widly used
outside of Apple/NeXT

I taught my young daughter (aged 8) some perl (seriously!) - written in a
very Sinclair BASIC style - eg not use of warnings/strict - just simple
procedural things wiht console I/O.

The approach I used was:

1) Very simple 1-2 liners - eg print 1+2, then introduce variables

2) Some very basic loops to knock out times tables

3) Generate a pair of random numbers say 0-10 and hav eit print a question:

X plus Y = ?

and have it read the answer and check it, with suitably humerous responses.

Method was to dictate code and have it do something (however minimal) after
every few lines. Then let her play the game (which did go down very well,
despite the "lameness".

Then I asked her if she could change it to produce numbers in the range
0-20, change it to doing "times" rather than "plus". With very little
hinting, she managed and was immediately pleased.

If the girl in question is older, you could teach perl in a more C like
fashion - which would form a good foundation for moving to C or Java (OK,
Java is OO, but she will not be so alienated by the general block syntax by



Tim Watts

Re: Objective C (OT)

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That's perhaps not a good idea. It would probably be better to start
with a language you know well, since otherwise you will find questions
come up you don't know the answer to.

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IMHO either of those would be better choices, as would Perl. For
learning the basics, an interpreted, dynamic language with automatic
memory management is much easier than anything like C. You need to
understand notions like 'variable' and 'reference' before you can even
start to understand malloc and type-safety.

(Although it's rightly condemned as a serious language, some variants of
BASIC make very good teaching languages. I started on BBC BASIC, and I
rather quickly found out for myself why unrestricted use of GOTO is a
bad idea...)

The only other thing I would say is that anyone who wants to be a
serious programmer ought to learn C at some point, just not first.
Getting a decent sense of what is actually being executed at the machine
code level is important, even if you don't intend to write at that level
in practice.


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