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programing/scripting where to start?

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just wondering if there are any suggestions on where a complete beginner should start? is there a specific language to start with? or a specific programming software that is designed for beginners? Thank you for any suggestions.

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Like anything programming-related, it's a matter of preferences, as well as what you need it for.

For really trivial things, like for example passing a /s parameter to an installer, nothing beats a plain old batch file (at least in terms of character count). But beyond that there are better alternatives.

As far as administrators go, VBScript is the most popular language, and by far. It's really easy to learn (the b in vbscript standing for basic, and the b in basic standing for beginners). You don't need a very solid or in depth knowledge of concepts like OOP or such. It also runs out of the box (no 3rd party software req'd, no compilation req'd -- much like batch files) on any version of Windows that came out in the last decade. You can easily debug it (you start the debugger by passing the //X parameter to your script) i.e. set watches, breakpoints and more. There are TONS of resources to get started, TONS of pre-written scripts and snippets to copy/paste from (why write everything from scratch?), and overall it's alright. Many programmers (C/C++/C#/Java/etc) don't care for the VB syntax though, the error handling (on error resume next or on error goto something) is laughable, it kind of sucks having to declare all constants for pretty much everything (unless you go with the more complex wsf format which nobody uses, along with an object reference), and you don't really get any kind of useful includes.

JScript (close to JavaScript/ECMAScript in syntax) is the other engine WSH supports along with VBScript. The same paragraph applies, except you get a more C-like syntax (which a lot of programmers prefer), and half-decent error handling (try/catch blocks). Most places don't use it at all, and just stick to VBScript because that's what everyone's doing anyway and that it's somewhat simpler to grasp for many.

The new kid on the block is PowerShell. Very neat, powerful and useful for certain tasks. I find myself using it more and more, but I always seem to run into some kind of scenario where it limits me (or my limited understanding of it does? Perhaps a little of both?). PowerShell 2.0 is already included in Win 7 & 2008 R2, but for older OS'es you have to install it first. It's also radically different than pretty much anything else. It's gaining popularity though, and a lot of products are using it for admins tasks (e.g. Exchange)

Then there's a lot of different 3rd party scripting languages, with varying feature sets, support also varies from a vendor to another (in terms of bug fixes, or still being around 10 years from now), varying prices, etc. AutoIt is fairly popular, especially for the cases where you have do send mouse clicks to a GUI and such tasks. Then there's also a few people who use Cygwin/MinGW instead, and even those who prefer to use Perl/Python (most often using ActivePerl/ActivePython).

That was assuming you meant scripting. If you mean programming, then there's a lot of other options. Visual Basic Express/Visual C# Express/Visual C++ 2010 Express (all free) are 3 great options, depending on the language you pick. Out of those 3, VC++ Express is the least attractive as it has no MFC support (nor for ATL), so it's a matter of which syntax you prefer between VB (which I truly don't care for personally) or C# which is more C-like. As usual, there's TONS of resources to get started. You can also leverage your knowledge of VB or C# to make web apps very quickly using Visual Web Developer Express (also free), and SQL Server Express is a free edition of one of "big 3" databases (the other 2 being Oracle and DB2), and it integrates very well with Visual Studio too.

Unfortunately, we're not quite sure what you'd like to do (write some simple scripts to automate tasks? write software?), and we couldn't pick the best language or tools for you even if we did. You'll just have to try some by yourself.

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As always... CoffeeFriend was ahead of me :rolleyes:

For programming (not "Scripting"):

If you're a real beginner, you can start with Visual BASIC: it's fairly easy

(hence its name "Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code"),

while you will still be able to achieve pretty advanced stuff with.

The second nice thing of VB is that you can get a free "Express Edition"

directly from Microsoft, so you don't need to invest a lot of money into

something you (might) at some later point want to stop with.

I'm a Delphi programmer myself, but it's a pretty expensive environment

(and their "Free" editions suck), so your next step might be Visual C++

or Visual C# for which there are also a free "Express Editions".

For more "Express Editions" and information, visit this link at Microsoft.



Edited by VideoRipper
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WOW, thanks for the great and thorough replies. :thumbup I knew the question of what I want to do was going to come up, however I don't have a specific task in mind I am just very impressed with the amazing things that can be done with both scripting and programming that I have always had in my mind that "wouldn't be cool to learn that" and so knowing that this is a great community having started with nlite a couple of years ago I knew i was asking the right people. I thank you very much.

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  • 5 weeks later...

My advice is to chose from the begining wether you want/need scripting or programming.

Because if you are like me and started with scripting you may never be able or have the patience to learn how to do an executable.

I started with vb scripting thinking that I will easily move to VB, then to more difficult languages. Eneven as I consider myself an expert in vbs, I quickely gave up when tackling a programming language, even VB! It's a completely different way of having things done.

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