Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

SoylentNews is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop. Only 16 submissions in the queue.
posted by NCommander on Wednesday April 02 2014, @07:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-remember-Applesoft-BASIC dept.

An article was recently published that looks at evaluating First Programming Languages (FPL) the language to use for an introductory course of programming.

An existing issue is that formally assessing a programming language isn't really defined, with a lot of evidence being anecdotal. The proposed evaluation framework looks at technical and environmental feature sets. "The technical feature set covers the language theoretical aspects, whereas, the environmental feature set helps evaluating the external factors." These feature sets are covered in table 2 of the article (link to PDF) and consist of the following:

Technical Features

  • High Level
  • Orthogonality
  • Strongly Typed
  • Enforceability of Good Habits
  • Security
  • Feature Uniformity
  • Less Effort for writing simple programs

Environmental Features

  • Demand in Industry
  • Contemporary Features
  • Easy Transition
  • Readable Syntax
  • Quality Coding
  • User Friendly Integrated Development Environment

The article explains each of these points in details, and gives each of the languages being evaluated a rating based on this explanation, followed by a detailed explanation of how the scores of each rating can be compared this includes allowing an evaluator to weigh certain criteria they deem important against the others. As this is for choosing a language to teach someone to program with, different places will have different reasons and goals, so would want to weight things differently.

As the default weight settings do not conform to the original popularity index of the languages, so there should be a different weighting criterion. However, it is very hard to come up with a generic and correct weighting criterion. Therefore, the scoring function should be customizable and the user should be able to tune the weight of each feature based on her preferences. As an example, consider the fact that Ada holds 3rd position in overall scoring, but is not being considered among highly used FPLs as of now.

NCommander adds: lhsi was kind enough to include a summary of the results. I looked through the paper and it seems like a fairly interesting read.

Using the default weighting, the top five First Programming Languages evaluated are as follows:

Technical
  1. Python
  2. Java
  3. Pascal
  4. Ada
  5. Modula-2

Environmental

  1. Java
  2. Ada
  3. Python
  4. C#
  5. C++

Overall

  1. Java
  2. Python
  3. Ada
  4. C#
  5. Modula-2
 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday April 02 2014, @09:32PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday April 02 2014, @09:32PM (#25172)

    The main problem I had when I learnt to code (C/C++/Java) was the gap between the exercises and reality.
    Here, have a few buttons, you can enter values, click on them and a number will show up elsewhere...

    Then I got to a real job, and there was a massive pile of drivers that were used to high-tech stuff and produce system validation tests. Then someone needed a GUI to drive the new product and I inherited it because my resume said Java.

    None of my teachers had bothered with the useful stuff. I knew how to use the languages, but how to make something useful that collects and parses and organises and spits data? Nah, that's not for EEs, unless you're a full geek who thinks parsing databases on your week-ends is a fun pastime.
    Did they give me enough knowledge to figure it out? Yes, and they probably consider their job done.
    Should they have bothered to teach how you should go from Hello-world to actual useful stuff, running on real systems (OS or embedded), to do something useful for real people? That would have saved me a lot of grief...

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2