Michael R. Cook Ruby and Golang Developer

Which is the Best Text Editor?

If you’re new to programming then I’ll bet one of your first questions has been, “what editor should I use?” I’m sure you went off to all the forums and no doubt you got answers such as “whatever you feel mostly comfortable with” or “just pick one and try it” - you may even have been lucky enough to start an editor flame war.

When starting out on your software developer career these kind of responses don’t help one iota, and can become frustrating. You just need someone to tell what to use - at least until you become more experienced. Unfortunately, it really does depend. Still, in this short post I’ll give you my own opinions, which will hopefully help you in making that decision.

Before we get started I’ll tell you the editor I use, or, more accurately the editors I use. My day-to-day editor is Vim, though I use both SublimeText and IntelliJ IDEA as well.

Editors fall in to two categories; straight up Text Editors and IDE’s.

For my day-to-day work I use Vim. This is a highly configurable text editor built to enable efficient text editing, with a medium/difficult learning curve. It’s not as crazy to learn (or as powerful) as Emacs, but you can get up and going in a relatively short time, its mode based editing is great for reducing RSI health issues, and for me, it’s the perfect editor for coding in dynamic languages like Ruby.


Padrino Blog Tutorial using Postgres & DataMapper

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Recently I’ve been wanting to experiment building websites with Ruby, but without using Rails. I’ve built a few small Sinatra applications, but I really miss having those basic MVC tools that Rails provides. It’s amazing how much easier things are when you have some nice routing and controller helpers. This led me to trying out Padrino, and I have to say it’s looking quite interesting.

Although the Padrino website does have a build-your-own-blog tutorial, it is using ActiveRecord and the HAML view template language. It’s not that I dislike either of these, but I did want try some other tools, such as DataMapper and straight up ERB for the views. As I couldn’t find any good tutorials out there I decided to use that Padrino tutorial as inspiration for my own post. Hopefully you will find it useful.

I will be borrowing heavily from the original Blog Tutorial, so if you’re happy enough using ActiveRecord and HAML, then please do go read that.

Okay, enough of the introductions, let’s get stuck in.


The Best Book for Learning Java?

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When learning a new programming language some people prefer to learn from video casts, others like to dive straight into the API documentation. I prefer to get general overview of its methodologies and concepts before getting stuck in lots of detail. This feels like a a good way to confirm the language choice before spending weeks hacking away in frustration. The speediest, most economical way I’ve found at doing that is with books.

Books are usually well thought out, structured manuscripts that explain the languages concepts one easy step at a time. Trying to find that same information on the internet often ends up with hours of wasted time scrabbling around search engines full of outdated articles, which can often leave you with large gaps in your knowledge and understanding. There is one problem with Java though; there are literally hundreds of books to chose from, so in this post I’ll try to go over my thought processes on how I made my decision.

For those looking for a definitive answer, I recommend you look for guidance from someone with more experience — this post is by someone new to the language. Okay, that said, let’s dig in.


Learning a New Programming Language

Back in 2010 when I started learning Ruby I was mostly just converting old Perl scripts for my custom ebook toolchain. Shortly after this I rebuilt the original epubBooks.com PHP web application in Ruby on Rails. Since then I’ve written a number of Rails applications including my own self-publishing Flash Fiction service; Drablr.com. As you can see, all my current experience is with dynamic programming languages, there’s not a type in sight.

For the last few years I’ve made an effort to follow respected developers, reading their books/blogs and watching shaver conference talks they give. Every one of those people seem to know a multitude of languages. As 2014 comes to a close I figured it was time I took the leap and expanded my experience with learning a new language.

What’s the best programming language to learn?

From all of my peers I don’t think there’s one who hasn’t worked professionally in at least one statically typed language, so this seems a good way to limit which ones to look at. Still, the choice is quite considerable. Do I go with Objective-C and look to iOS development? Perhaps I could check out Rust or Go? What about jumping into C++? Heck, why not take on the grandaddy of them all, plain old C?

After some months procrastination research, I decided that although learning a newer language like Rust would be pretty cool, it’s probably best to stick with something more mainstream and mature so that I can benefit from the wealth of resources available.

This leaves us with C, C++ and Java.

C was ruled out pretty early on as although it’s a fast and hugely flexible language, it’s not OO. Object-Orientated languages may not be the only programming paradigm around but I’ve learned a great deal about OO from my Ruby experience and it won’t do any harm to remain in this area for the next few years at least.

One down, two to go: C++ and Java.


About Me

Hi, my name is Michael and this is my personal blog. Here I’ll be posting various coding thoughts and experiments; everything from writing blogs in Ruby, to Go tools and Z80 Assembly. This site is powered by Thunderaxe, a blogging platform I built using the Roda Ruby framework.