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After Alice what language?
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gunny
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Default After Alice what language? - 10-23-2007, 12:34 PM

There appear to be a lot of programming teachers on this site. My school, Loyola Sacred Heart in Missoula, Montana, is presently looking at our CS/Programming curriculum for changes. I am hunting advice as to what language to teach. We teach VB 6 at the moment and are looking at upgrading to VB.net. We do not teach Alice at the high school level right now. I started teaching it this year for a semester to 8th graders. The three languages we are looking at are VB.net, Java and C sharp. Is one a better teaching language than the others? Does it make any difference?
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 10-23-2007, 05:28 PM

You may already be aware of this, but just in case you aren't, the College Board Advanced Placement exams (both A and AB versions) for computer science require the student to have a knowledge of Java.

Because of that, many colleges and universities (but by no means all of them) have switched the computer science programming courses to Java. For example, the Computer Science department at the University of Texas at Austin uses Java almost exclusively in their programming courses and the coursework is very demanding. I'm not sure what the engineering and IT (business) departments at UT-Austin use.

On the other hand, the Computer Science department at Texas State University still uses C++ while the IT department uses a combination of Java and VB.net.

By all means, if you decide to use VB, use VB.net and not VB6, if for no other reason than the fact that VB.net is object-oriented and VB6 is not.

My recommendation is to use Java. If Alice 3.0 behaves as advertised, it will expose Java as the underlying language and allow the student to program using either Alice mode or Java mode. This should make for a smooth transition from drag-and-drop to keyboard. According to a recent statement from the folks at Carnegie Mellon, you will be able to program anything using Alice 3.0 that can be programmed in Java.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm
   
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Programming environment for Java?
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DrJim
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Question Programming environment for Java? - 10-28-2007, 05:54 PM

In addition to recommending Java, what type of development environment would you recommend for an introduction to Java programming?

To actually compile and use Java code, such as the classes Lance A referenced in http://www.alice.org/community/showthread.php?t=871 , a lot more than just the basic text listing of the code is obviously needed. However I have had difficulty determining what would constitute a minimum configuration and/or a good beginners' system.

Two options would appear to be the Java SDK from Sun or the Eclipse IDE that J. Adams use in his text "Alice in Action with Java." I'm sure there are others. You somewhat imply in your tutorials that you use the Sun SDK but, (with a fairly quick look) I didn't see any real details to verify that.
   
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DickBaldwin
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Default 10-28-2007, 07:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJim View Post
In addition to recommending Java, what type of development environment would you recommend for an introduction to Java programming?

To actually compile and use Java code, such as the classes Lance A referenced in http://www.alice.org/community/showthread.php?t=871 , a lot more than just the basic text listing of the code is obviously needed. However I have had difficulty determining what would constitute a minimum configuration and/or a good beginners' system.

Two options would appear to be the Java SDK from Sun or the Eclipse IDE that J. Adams use in his text "Alice in Action with Java." I'm sure there are others. You somewhat imply in your tutorials that you use the Sun SDK but, (with a fairly quick look) I didn't see any real details to verify that.
I take my students through three progressively more complex courses using nothing more than the Sun JDK (without NetBeans), the Sun documentation, and the free version of a color-coded text editor named JCreator. Any good text editor that is color-coded for Java will do.

Sun originally called their product the JDK, then they switched to SDK, and now they are back to calling it the JDK in version 1.6.

The JDK contains a compiler (javac.exe), a runtime engine (java.exe), a documentation generator (javadoc.exe), and a few other utility programs (such as a jar file generator) that can easily be run from the command line. Of course, it also contains Sun's massive Java class library. To do the sort of things that LanceA mentioned, it would be necessary to install the custom class library developed by the authors of that particular textbook. Even then, there should be no problem accessing those classes with a simple text editor (assuming that documentation is available).

See the following links for information on the three courses:

http://www.austincc.edu/baldwin/Fall...e/ITSE2321.htm
http://www.austincc.edu/baldwin/Fall...e/ITSE2317.htm
http://www.austincc.edu/baldwin/Fall...age/Index.html

By the third course, the students are writing web browsers, interfaces to SQL databases, servlets, Java2D graphics programs, etc.

Although I don't always succeed, I try to discourage my students from using any high-level IDE such as Eclipse or NetBeans in the hope that once they start using those productivity tools they will understand what is happening when the tool writes code for them.

Of course, I don't discourage professional programmers from using every productivity tool (such as NetBeans or Eclipse) that they can find.

You can also go a long way into C# programming using nothing but a text editor and the .net framework (see http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocCsharp.htm) but I don't teach our C# courses and the instructor who teaches them has his students use MS Visual Studio

I believe that serious programming students should learn to program before they learn how to drag and drop and have an IDE write their code for them.

On the other hand, I believe that Alice with its drag-and-drop interface is entirely appropriate for beginning programming students, particularly those who are simply taking the course to satisfy some requirement for a programming course in a non-Computer Science major, such as a student who is majoring in technical writing. About 70-percent of the students who enroll in our Programming Fundamentals course fall in that category.

Dick Baldwin
Free Alice tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/tocalice.htm
Free programming tutorials: http://www.dickbaldwin.com/toc.htm

PS: See "HOW TO COMPILE AND RUN A JAVA APPLICATION" at http://www.dickbaldwin.com/java/Java010.htm for brief instructions on how to compile and run a Java application from the command line.

Also see the discussion at the following URL: http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.3/install...html#Classpath
Pay particular attention to the section that reads "Should I modify the CLASSPATH variable?"
Within that section, pay attention to the discussion involving the current directory.

Last edited by DickBaldwin; 10-28-2007 at 08:15 PM. Reason: Clarification
   
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