For complicated financial reasons (well, not very complicated – my job doesn’t pay me enough, so I’m building a couple of websites for cash), I’m being forced to learn PHP and ASP simultaneously at the moment.
This is slightly irritating, in that the two scripting languages work in almost, but not actually, the same way and use almost, but not actually, the same commands. That’ll learn me, or something. But not for the first time, I’m thanking various deities for the existence of the web.
Learning programming languages when I was little was actually difficult. Built-in help varied between the non-existent (when I learnt BBC Basic) and the rubbish (early versions of VB spring to mind). Getting hold of tutorials involved money, which I didn’t have when I was 12, and being bothered to go to a specialist bookshop, which I can’t be bothered to do even now. And looking at how (more than a couple of) other people did things was near-impossible unless you went out and bought their software.
Now, however, I can google for asp get query string url (or whatever the biggest keywords relating to my query are) and instantly bring up dozens of hits telling me exactly what I need to do.
This absolutely rocks, since I don’t need to learn the actual terms for either language at all. All I need to do is work out how I need to structure the script, then I can look up everything else. And I can make sure it works properly through repeated trial and error, since it’s just a matter of changing what looks wrong, saving and hitting F5.
It’s one example of the key way the Internet has changed the world. You (I/one, if you prefer) no longer really need to know any facts. You just need to know how to find them and (very importantly in some cases, although fortunately the number of malicious ASP tutorials on the web seems to be limited) to work out how credible they are. This is intellectually taxing, but it doesn’t involve memorising anything.
Which suits me just fine.
I’m also happy because once I’ve built the commerical sites I can re-use the code that I write to make SBBS run properly on my server – then I can escape from the infinitely vile Blogger. Hooray!