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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
 
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  • (Score: 1) by albert on Thursday April 03 2014, @03:03AM

    by albert (276) on Thursday April 03 2014, @03:03AM (#25310)

    Check out http://scratch.mit.edu/ [mit.edu] and see how people are coding. At first glance this looks like a graphical programming language, but it's really just a structured editor for an ordinary text-based language.

    This editor is pure genius. It lets you see your options. It blocks syntax errors.

    The one problem is that they use a screwy language that is stuck in an interpreter that is written in flash ActionScript. You're slowed by multiple levels of interpreting and the only portability is to other people on that web site.

    Better would be to use a subset of C99 with the libSDL 2 library. Pick a subset that Visual Studio 2013 and gcc 4.6 can both handle, and ditch all the deprecated old stuff. (for example, modern C99-style struct initializers only) To run it in the browser, have the server compile to asm.js JavaScript. When the user wants to take it out of the browser, let them download a zip file containing everything they need: their code, a Visual Studio solution file, and a plain old Makefile.