Best Java IDE for a smart kid using OS X?

Tyler Close tyler at waterken.com
Fri Oct 31 10:29:19 PST 2003


On Friday 31 October 2003 11:18, Meltsner, Kenneth wrote:
> Thoughts and/or flames?  And before you complain that he's learning Java
> instead of {Scheme, Logo, C#}, it was that, or C++, I suspect, and no
> son of mine is going to collect garbage manually.

Not a complaint, but food for thought.

The most important thing to learn about programming is how to
structure an application. Editors, language syntax, command lines,
IDEs, etc. are all trivialities that just get in the way of
understanding what you are trying to accomplish. The key is being
able to build up a mental model of what you are trying to build.

A first programming environment should be strong on model and
simple on everything else. Java, C++, etc. are the antithesis.

For a person your son's age, I would take a look at Squeak,
<http://www.squeakland.org/>. Using this development tool will
teach your son about message-based, event-loop programming.

For someone just a little younger than your son, I recommend
ToonTalk <http://www.toontalk.com/>. It teaches the same lessons,
but with a cartoon interface, instead of syntax. I've tried using
ToonTalk to teach kids 7 to 8 year olds. I think they needed to be
a year or two older, or just smarter. Only one of the kids managed
to make an actual program, the others just played with the
cartoons. Maybe the cartoon interface is too good.

Anyways, I think the first thing to teach is message-oriented
computing. Understanding that a program is composed of a universe
of interconnected resources, and that you compute by bouncing
messages through this web, starts you down the path to successful
software design.

Tyler


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