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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 hendrikboom on Thursday April 03 2014, @03:06AM

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 03 2014, @03:06AM (#25313) Homepage Journal

    Have a look at Modula 3. It conpiles to machine code, will cross-compile to machine code for another machine, is serious about run-time checks and garbage collection and similar security, and has object-oriented stuff that you don't need to use if you don't want to. It has a syntax like Pascal.

    And if the security gets in your way, it you can explicitly declare that you'll use unsafe language features and start pointer-punning and explicit storage allocation and freeing to your heart's content.

    It's one of the few languages where, once you get the program through the compiler, it's reasonably likely that the program will actually do something like running.

    Oh. And nowadays there's a new code generator for it that compiles to very portable C.

    Look it up on the wikipedia and follow links from there.

    Don't' confuse it with Modula 2. That's a completely different language.