I feel that a smart/talented C/C++/anything developer can go from someone who has never seen or heard of golang to a proficient and productive Go developer in a matter of a few weeks, maybe even _days_, if not less.
That's how long it takes to go through the following materials (and fav some for later reference) and play with the language a bit.
http://golang.org/pkg/ - use as reference
And a some more similar things that you can mostly get to from golang.org site. The beauty of how concise the language and even its website are, is that you can literally just go through everything there one thing after another.
 This is my personal opinion based on playing with go the last few weeks/months. I'd love to verify this theory. It's not yet the primary language in which I do things in (I use C++11 atm), but for all my side tasks it proved to be indispensable. And I found it very easy to pick up. I can't wait until I start doing all my work in Go, that will be a true test of its productivity efficiency.
Any serious programmer should be a polyglot by default.
It depends if you're going to spend years training someone or if you need an expert right now.
My experience is that it is impossible to maintain expert level skills in more than one or two language + library environments. You can remain familiar with other environments but you don't have the time to be an expert.
While I sometimes switch between C-family languages for different projects, it can take months to get up-to-speed with the changes in a language and its environment since you last programmed in it. I'm talking about situations where I know the language well but the environment has changed. Languages change a little but the libraries they use can change dramatically. And along with the change comes a whole body of implied knowledge about how to safely and effectively use it all and this impacts on how you use the language itself.
If you've literally never programmed in a language before, it can be a few years before you know about all the eccentricities, before you understand why the language follows certain patterns, before you understand the risks with certain behaviors.
If you need an expert now, not in 12 months time, then they need to know both the language and the environment. If you can wait a couple months, then they still need to know the language.
I'm not going to claim that there are no legitimate reasons to hire people who are narrow experts in Blub (and only Blub), but I'm having a hard time thinking of any.
At an established company, you've got the luxury of time -- there's rarely a good reason to "need an expert right now" that isn't just a contractor. At a startup, where hiring the wrong person is a disaster, hiring an "expert right now" is like holding a loaded gun to your head. Ideally, you should be hiring "T" people -- lots of breadth, with lots of depth in at least one area.
A truly good programmer will pick up your language/framework in days, and be at full productivity in months, even from scratch. It's hard to do better than that.
Just because I've never written Erlang doesn't mean that I will automatically try to write a random-number generator (say) the first time I need one in Erlang. I have enough experience to look for a library function first.
Empirically, NIH tends to be more common in single-language developers, not less. People who place a lot of value on their "expertise" in Blub tend to do so because they're over-weighting the importance of their memory of the API details. When they don't automatically remember something, they leap to the conclusion that it doesn't exist. They're also typically a less-experienced cohort than people who have written in lots of different languages.
That's called "laziness", and is even more likely than NIH syndrome to be mitigated by experience. Certainly, having lots of coding time with a single language doesn't make you less lazy, and having lots of experience with different languages doesn't make you lazier.
The point isn't that the generalist programmer will be 100% correct in all the details in new language, it's that they'll be able to quickly (and correctly) implement the important parts in whatever language you're using. Idioms tend to be the low-order bit of a solution anyway.
It probably took a couple of months full time in python before I had enough understanding of the std lib to know where to find everything (I sat down and read through a description of most of the functions in there).
There are still plenty of libraries that would have made my life easier if I knew about them. I'm sure there are plenty more.
Having said all that, that's just for example. When it comes to hiring I'd still pick a good experienced developer over a specific language expert for a full time position. For me it's not so much about the understanding of a specific language as it is the appetite for understanding computers / systems in general that makes truely good developers.
Ultimately the task is going to dictate the best type of hire. Short term contract, get a specific expert. Long term hire, find someone who actually enjoys developing software :)
It's something to do with how critical the library functions are to you / your system. I would never write my own compression software, but I can see why people would just to learn about the trade offs.
Third party libraries are also listed here:
And the ecosystem is not so broad or mature that you would miss significant libraries because there are too many options and you just didn't find them.
Otherwise you have a methodology problem. You don't do daily standups, where you'd have the opportunity to say "Yesterday, I started implementing X because I couldn't find a library" and more experienced coworkers would tell you "Use library Y instead".
Any project should have time allocated for "tech debt" and that's where this sort of thing gets addressed.
Blub is a very useful tool but has a bunch of quite esoteric gotcha's that an expert will be able to avoid due to long experience.
Expert has used almost all of the Blub framework over the years, including the more popular third-party addons and already knows what's best and fastest in a variety of situations without having to think about it much.
"A truly good programmer will pick up your language/framework in days, and be at full productivity in months, even from scratch. It's hard to do better than that."
Yeah, but then HR won't be able to tick off the 'Blub expert' box and, well, nobody would ever get hired! Or something...
And the crappier your language and libraries, the more time it takes to be an "expert."
My other theory is that it's a lot harder to track down bugs for a newcomer because like C (and unlike Python in most cases), importing functionality from another file is implicit. That is, when you 'require' a bunch of files, there's no indication which functions are coming from where. For me, this is one of the things Python solves marvelously (it's generally considered bad form to 'import *').
This sounds great. I'd hate software made in the way some "community" wants. Community is the other name for committee.
Especially since being a good programmer is more about design, choice of interfaces, reactivity to change, etc. which are by definition language agnostic.
I firmly disagree that Ruby requires any less effort than say C, C++, Java or LISP to become an expert.
This is FUD. It's a different way of doing things, not harder. I live inside Pry which makes it rather easy to figure out what's going on.
I really don't think it's FUD to say that Rails has gotten much bigger in the past 5 years, and it's definitely not FUD to say that as codebases and tooling grows, so does barrier to entry.
The specific thing I guess you're objecting to is that it's harder for a noob to understand implicit imports and where something is coming from if you don't know much about what you're importing. If you use a tool to solve that language deficiency, that doesn't remove the deficiency from the language. By that logic, adding an IDE to Java makes it a very concise language.
"it's a lot harder to track down bugs for a newcomer"
This statement is FUD. You seem to be defining "language deficiency" as "hard for a noob before they become proficient". I think that is absurd.
An expert still needs time to become familiar with a large codebase and architecture. I wonder if a competent programmer could simply learn the language in addition during this period.
Granted Go doesn't have as many libraries as the more established languages, but to say there aren't many and there's "nothing to learn besides the language" is just flat out wrong.
Just for starters there's http://code.google.com/p/go-wiki/wiki/Projects
And there's probably more to a lack of an ORM other than "Go is immature." It's a fairly common opinion among the Go community that ORMs are not worth their complexity. I tend to share that opinion myself, after having worked with a few in a couple different languages.
Really? Because we managed to get just fine without one for decades...
I know that I've used Hibernate for years. I've used it with DTOs. I know that it does provide a certain benefit for simple reads and writes. Unfortunately, Hibernate was designed to work in a disconnected manner like the Web. As a result you get into complications of session management. This is just one example of Hibernate maintenance costs.
Now I use Spring JDBC. This removes the noise of the checked exceptions, connection management, transactions, just like Hibernate. But I write simple or complex SQL in one place and map in and out contently.
In C# the session management is no big deal: you access everything via the Repository pattern, turn on trait injection and just make sure any repository method that will need a session has a transaction attribute. If you need to do a series of read/writes in one transaction you throw that whole method into the repository class and put a transaction trait on that method.
In any solution you come up with you'll either need a repository that handles sessions and so on, or you'll have to explicitly connect to the db every time you need it. Either case will be more work than what I've done with this solution.
In a multi-paradigm language you wouldn't be tied to using an ORM but you should still use something that provides some kind of anti-corrupt support. In an OO language you can have nothing but objects so there is nothing else your database library can return. It may as well return objects that represent the records rather than, say a list of strings.
I find a lot of people who use high-level languages are terrified of tediously direct contact with the machine, and a lot of people who use low-level languages are terrified of the performance costs of abstraction. I'm terrified of both.
I think that in general, C++ is a lot harder to get your head around than C, being for all intents and purposes a superset, and an easily five times bigger one at that.
EDIT: I originally meant this as a joke, but seriously, if someone accurately knows where the gotchas are, that's valuable. Also note if they're biased to false positives and/or false negatives, and by how much. Are their heuristics for dealing with unknown territory efficient and likely to converge on good approximate results?
I'm terrified by what I don't know, especially by what I don't know that I think I should know, to be "in the know".
Not really. I'd place Agda or Coq above Lisp.
C if you are terrified about performance
Lisp if you are terrified about boilerplate
Agda if you are terrified about correctness
If you are terrified about all of these, then welcome to the world of engineering.
As it is, the static typing helps to avoid some boilerplate, too, indepedent of macros. In some sense, static typing removes, among other things, boilerplate tests.
And yes, it is not used, only in some obscure and low profile projects : https://www.adacore.com/customers
Golang, it's true, is in the 3×–10× ballpark.
https://github.com/languages/Ada shows Ada as the #52 most popular language on GitHub. The #10 most popular is Objective-C at 3%. Using R:
summary(lm(log(c(25, 13, 8,8,8, 7, 6, 4, 4, 3)) ~ log(1:10)))
Because more than 10 people have heard of and use Agda or Coq?
I don't think so. Last I heard, there was still a lot of COBOL out there.
Most banks, and many other businesses that have been around 30+ years, are still running on COBOL.
It was popular because of its highly readable syntax and its fixed-point packed decimal math for financial calculations.
As for myself, when I started writing Python, I mainly wrote C or Java code in Python - in a similar way, perhaps, how early C programs were littered with __asm__() constructs.
It took a long time to learn how to write things in (though I hate the term) a "pythonic" way. That is, to learn the common language idioms that are not taught in any tutorial, or are part of pep8, which illustrate common patterns in Python code, the ins-and-outs of PYTHONPATH, etc etc.
So while I agree that, in a weekend, a reasonably proficient programmer can pick up reasonable proficiency in a given language, being a "Python Programmer" to me means that one has developed an intuition for the common patterns, libraries, pitfalls, platforms, and clever specific features of a given language and its ecosystem.
New languages usually improve upon older languages by making certain errors impossible by design. For example, Go allows pointers, but not pointer arithmetic. With C we learned pointer arithmetic is often harmful (though sometimes necessary), so Java removed pointers from the language (not completely, though). Go takes a sensible middle way, because no pointers sometimes is ugly. Such a clean slate is good, because with older languages programmers fight their language deficiencies with habits (e.g. if (5 == x) instead of if (x == 5) to prevent if (x = 5)).
On the other hand, we will find the pitfalls and dark corners of Go over time, but currently we do not know them enough. Go will acquire its own conventions, but we do not know all of them yet. This is the risk of a clean slate.
That's bullshit, Go is not a "clean slate", and a number of design issues of Go are known and have been known from the first release regardless of its designer's refusal to acknowledge them. We know pervasive nullable types are a source of errors, we know shared-memory concurrency is an error-prone default, we know a lack of generics makes userland code painful and generics are hard to retrofit in an established language (and even Go's designers know it, why do you think they build special-case generic collections in the interpreter?), we know allowing implicitly ignoring errors is a bad idea and making it easier to ignore than handle errors also is. These are not recent issues, they're well known and there are a number of possible strategies for handling them.
And Go's worst sin, to me: we know that foisting complexity and repetitiveness upon the user leads to forgetting, and forgetting leads to mistakes. And that's exactly Go's approach to errors, resources management and shared structures mutability. Human error is something you can very reliably bet on, human infallibility... not so much.
Personally, I consider gofmt the biggest achievement of Go, if it manages to make that mainstream. While there are equivalent tools for C they are not widely used.
Decade which ended 20-odd years ago relative to the rest of the world, kind-of the point.
Yeah, really actual.
The "[language] programmer" (where [language] usually = Java or .NET) trend is a misguided attempt by industry to commoditize programmer talent.
At the introductory level, I think the biggest issue is teaching "computational thinking"  or "procedural literacy" : getting people thinking about the idea that you're writing specifications for a machine to carry out computations. From that perspective, it's best to pick a language that lets you get to algorithmic logic as quickly as possible.
I hated C++. I still think it's a fairly terrible language. But, for fun I took the Harvard CS50 course to refresh my knowledge of C and I found that WAY better than my C++ course. I think C is brilliant for introducing programming because it's very very simple, yet also very very difficult. There's not much to learn, except a lot of concepts (memory usage, data structures, etc).
I also think Objective-C is a really great language though, so I might be crazy. But, you give me a choice between C++ and a language that is basically C with a few additional keywords and garbage collection, and I find that an easy choice...
I also think Objective-C is pretty good though, especially with the addition of ARC. It's like a better C, with Smalltalk-style objects and a lot more (mutable and immutable) datatype options. Much saner and less painful than C++, but more challenging than Java.
Countless Java bugs are introduced by programmers who don't understand what operations give you a copy of something, and which ones give you a reference to something
These two statements seem to be at odds with each other.
When I started with eclipse + Java, within hours my perception of Java was that it was really more of 'fill up the blanks' rather than programming.
Of course, you get the same thing in Java when you first encounter a NullPointerException, ;)
C/C++ programmers tend to do premature optimization (habit) due to the culture and the problem domain (past experience): device driver, kernel code, game development.
How important Pointer is for say learning any high-level programming language that don't have pointers (pretty much everything outside C/C++/Objective-C)?
Sometimes I felt that knowing Pointer arithmetic and tricks are some sort of chess-thumping that old programmers tend to do. (My background is system programming so I know how pointer works).
It doesn't matter what you know or learn during the university. What matters is whether you continue to hone your skill or not and have a high bar of quality.
References in high level languages are mostly hidden pointers. A good knowledge of how pointers work is really important to get a good understanding of how high level languages work (a lot of Java programmers don't well understand the distinction between value and reference types, for instance).
Likely, be at ease with recursion is also very important as many complex problems are recursive by nature, and so way easier to solve using functional techniques.
Or the best, easiest and clearest way to do things... Sure you can write confusing crap with pointers, but they are very useful.
From what I can experience in the multi-site enterprise projects I participate, the industry is being quite successful at that.
Successful at producing high-quality software, relative to the resources they are expending on it? Not so much.
Yes this is what I mean.
In most enterprise companies nowadays, developers are seen as easy to replace programming cogs.
> Successful at producing high-quality software, relative to the resources they are expending on it? Not so much.
Who cares about quality when the price is right?! :)
Being sarcastic here, I am the opinion the software industry should be under the same quality regulations and expectations as the other industries.
Usually most people return stuff that does not work properly, while with software they just live with whatever bugs the software has.
It's easy to move about in the same style of programming, but trying to move someone from enterprise-y OO (Java, C#) to functional (Haskell, Lisp) or even Go is a bit of a leap. Concepts often just don't cross over. A Go channel, for example, makes sense to an Erlang developer, but not a Java developer. Goroutines don't make sense to someone familiar with traditional threads.
There's a certain amount of rewiring that needs to be done. Looking for a "[language] programmer" is strange, but looking for someone proficient in the style of programming used makes sense to me.
Java has had channels for a while now at the library level, they just lack pretty syntax. But this just reinforces my point.
I understand people doing this.
First you can be more sure of what you're getting. It's sad that tests like FizzBuzz are so useful, but it's a fact. If I hire a Java developer for a Java position, I can figure out there Java skills. If I look at a PHP developer, it's more of a crapshoot. They may have a lot of PHP experience, but can they convert that to Java or have they just been doing cargo-cult stuff? This would be a smaller issue with something like C# that's closer to Java.
Second, and I suspect more common, is time investment. It might take someone quite a bit of time to switch languages. If they haven't done it before, you might find out it's a weakness for them. In my experience, at least in smaller companies, the fact that you're hiring means you need someone now. That extra time could be killer, because you waited to long to start hiring.
I would at least expect candidates to look into what we're using. When I changed jobs 2 years ago, one place I applied was a Python shop. I've never used Python professionally, but I've tinkered with it. If you're applying for a Java position, I expect you to have at least looked at Java before the interview. Sadly, I bet that would happen a non-trivial number of times.
I had 4+ years of working on a reasonably sized and complicated Java application. In addition, a few years before I used Python for personal projects so I could show some experience.
But it turned out the position was largely for front end development, and not some of the more back-end stuff I'm interested in. I think they liked me (don't know how I compared to other candidates) but I thanked them for their time and told them the position wouldn't be a fit for me.
(The inverse of this is if you're looking for a PHP programmer, and posting ads on monster.com ;) )
If you don't already get recursion, though, you will struggle. Everyone struggles with recursion at first.
I think to completely explain this phenomena, one would have to make references to people's skill levels, and it's hard to explain it in a few words. So I'll just not say anything at all on this subject beyond that.
It takes a long time to become really good at C++.
The language itself is not usually a problem for me. I mean an array is an array in any language. It's environment. Example: c# (which I think in MS's best work, by the way); c# was easy to pick up. The .Net framework was another matter. That took time. Knowing where the resources are and hell - even getting comfortable with the documentation and the IDE took time.
So now, when I hire a programer, I'm not too interested in his language skills. I'm assume he can code well enough not to embarrass himself. It's his knowledge of the environment that we run. That's what I look for.
My own experience is that there are PLENTY of programmers who have used, say, PHP and Python, but who you wouldn't want to touch your C codebase in a pair-programming session.
If you've used C++ and C, then sure, you can probably jump to just about any language. Someone who's only used Python (or worse, Java or PHP) will likely be a danger to themselves and others for the first year or three using C.
I started out with assembly, then went to C and then all the C-family based languages. Non C-family languages are actually rare enough to neglect for 99% of all programming tasks today.
Always remember going from something difficult to simple is easy, but going from something simple to difficult is not easy.
I believe the "python way" and "pythonic" code that the community pushes is great for newbies, since it gets them thinking about not just writing code, but writing it idiomatically.
This, in turn, makes most think about why doing it the "pythonic" way works better.
Great. There are plenty of hard working people to make this "piece of wisdom" completely worthless.
>Starting out with Python as a newbie is disastrous.
There are plenty of programmers that wouldn't want to touch C to begin with, regardless of past experience. Anyway, why would you ask somebody with no experience in C to develop your C codebase?
>If you've used C++ and C, then sure, you can probably jump to just about any language.
The message I replied to said:
>It's quite strange to me that people would identify as or look for a "[language] programmer".
So what I was saying was that you would want a C programmer to develop in a C codebase.
>There are plenty of programmers that wouldn't want to touch C to begin with, regardless of past experience.
I wouldn't want to do a lot of original development in C myself. I have used C -- and assembly language -- to do nontrivial things in the past. But I'm ready to be done with C myself.
>>If you've used C++ and C, then sure, you can probably jump to just about any language.
Code in it, yes. And I agree with the polyglot.
The quality of a serious programmer is to get things done. Not tool tricks.
When I go out to hire a carpenter, I just ask him to show me some of his work. If I like it I buy from him or hire his services. I don't go around and ask him to demonstrate how he uses a hammer.
Today I wrote Java (LDAP server plugin), and ssembly (for unit testing some code that has to minimally interpret x86 assembly). I'll also occasionally need to write some JS/HTML/CSS for the web, work on systems programming for other architectures (ARM, AVR), write kernel code and drivers (C/C++), write/extend a Python script (HTTP test client), write Tcl (to drive simulavr), ObjC (iOS apps), and occasionally write some functional code for fun (I have no business case for it, sometimes it's just nice to work on something clean).
I've done and do all those things (and more) not because I have 'tool tricks', but because in nearly every case, I needed to use the tool most suited to getting things done in that problem domain.
Programmers that refuse to adapt to the given problem domain do their users a disservice. It's like the old joke about which nationalities run heaven and hell -- the worst possible people set to tasks for which they're innately ill-suited. However, programmers can learn more -- if they're willing -- and adapt to better suit themselves to the problem at hand.
Burnt to the ground on purpose because there were too many bugs or it became an impossible to maintain tangled mess of meaningless symbols.
By the way, since he only uses his screwdriver and you project requires nails, he'll take 5 times longer than your deadline.
Your end product will work for about 2 months, then you'll pour the gasoline on it and burn it down yourself.
I can pick up a new language very fast but won't consider myself a polyglot (know a handful of languages). I do still consider myself a serious programmer.
At the end of my CS degree, I was able to code in:
- Assembly (x86 and MIPS)
Agreed! My career is mostly database development. Very high level. Yet I felt comfortable in Go in a few weeks. In a few months I was handling low-level stuff (to me, anyway) like tweaking Go's web server. Go's official online documentation is excellent, although I wish it had lots more examples. The next best learning resource I have on it is the book Programming in Go (also get the Go Programming Language Phrasebook).
In short, they might not be writing idiomatic code, and you'll end up maintaining it for a long time. IMHO, becoming basically proficient with a language is very different to being able to create software which will scale well to large teams, while also aging gracefully over time.