Learning syntax and programming languages

Repetition is listed as an important method of learning software development; however, straight-line coding would not change significantly 2 years from now for most coders. There are two distinguishes types of knowledge – syntactic and semantic. While syntactic knowledge varies by language and can be acquired via over-learning, semantic knowledge is independent and can be organized into mental models. Over-learning involves acquiring skills through repetition to the point of automatic execution such as learning how to type. However, semantic knowledge cannot be improved simply by repeating the process over and over. Education and job evaluations sometimes view syntax as a gauge for software development aptitude. Syntax is normally covered in the initial stages of software development classes. This is unfortunate. It is during this time that some develop bad habits including: rush to code, code and fix, straight-line coding.

One can reason that syntax is the building blocks for any educational software development class, for without syntax there would be no executable code. However, there must be a foundation for those building blocks, and that is structured programming basics. Those who have programmed for 5-10 years do not give a thought to syntax. The code snippets shown in Figure 2 will be viewed by some as their second language.

for (int ii= 0; ii < size; ii++)

        for (int jj=0; jj< size; jj++)

 

c move p1fdtea p1fdte 8 0

c move p1tdtea p1tdte 8 0

c exsr clrhst

c exsr prctrn

 

 

CRTPF FILE(QTEMP/&FILE) RCDLEN(512)

MONMSG MSGID(CPF7302) EXEC(CLRPFM +

FILE(QTEMP/&FILE))

CALL PGM(*LIBL/DRW001CL)

CHGVAR VAR(&APSENV) VALUE(&ENV *TCAT ‘FLIB’)

CPYTOIMPF FROMFILE(QTEMP/&FILE) +

TOFILE(QTEMP/&XFIL)

 

 

 

UNSTRING ADD3 DELIMITED BY ALL SPACES INTO

    CITY, STATE, ZIP.

MOVE 5 TO A.

SUBTRACT B D FROM A GIVING C.

 

 

 

<!–#include file=”styles.css” –>

<p class=”tabletext”>

<a href=”Env_add001.aspx”>Add New </a></p>

<table cellpadding=”4″ cellspacing=”0″ width=”100%”>

 

 

Figure 2: Programming Code

When changing languages, frustrations are prevalent for a time, but they quickly dissipate as developers settle into the new language. Syntax must be taught, but it should not be the central curriculum, and it should not be the primary gauge of software aptitude.

About Basil

Basil has over twenty years of programming experience from a wide variety of industries including warehouse distribution, insurance, state licensing for trucking industry, and discount retail. Programming language experience has predominantly been for IBM’s AS400 platform – CL, RPG, COBOL, Queries, Managed Queries, APF, SQL, Synon, Visual Basic and C++. He obtained his masters from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in 2007.
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13 Responses to Learning syntax and programming languages

  1. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  2. Ron Tedwater says:

    Great work keep it coming

  3. Shirley says:

    Check that off the list of things I was cnoufsed about.

  4. Trish says:

    Hallleujah! I needed this—you’re my savior.

  5. Randhil says:

    This is way more helpful than anything else I’ve looekd at.

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