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“Computer programming is an art, because it applies accumulated knowledge to the world, because it requires skill and ingenuity, and especially because it produces objects of beauty.”
Donald Knuth, 1974

 

It’s better to start your journey into the career of programming by answering the question “Do you really need programming?” This question does not apply to those, who majored in computer programming or was close to it. If at school you were good at math, if you like to spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, if you want to learn something new, then programming is for you. What is more, this area is now in demand and highly paid in the world, job vacancies for the post of programmers are always open. Isn’t it the best time to be a programmer? 🙂

Everyone knows that the future programmer should be able to think broadly and to present the project from different perspectives before its implementation and realization. Unfortunately, the machine does not understand a human language. Of course, I’m not talking about Siri and other voice recognition — I’m talking about the creation of new software. To create the calculator, the computer needs to be given the task in the same way as the foreman explains to workers how to lay bricks. That’s why you can’t do anything without understanding the programming languages. Well, first you need to decide what kind of programming languages we should start with.

And here everyone chooses a language which will be useful for him. It depends on the kind of products you are going to develop. Most of us studied Turbo Pascal at school, and it’s no news that this language is practically not used anymore. So, if you want to join the team of programmers in the nearest future, the choice of language should be made sensibly.

Among the most popular programming languages in 2016 are Java, followed by C languages, then Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, etc. It should come as no surprise that the more popular language is, the more chances you have to find work in the future. So, you’d better start with Java or C#, as these are the best paid and relatively simple learning languages of writing code. If you can’t cope with them, then you should try to learn Python. This language suits for quick and effective programming.

But if you have no programming experience at all you can start with something more simple for understanding. Good examples can be the basics of HTML and CSS.

Why? These two languages are essential for creating static web pages. HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) structures all the text, links, and other content you see on a website. CSS is the language that makes a web page look the way it does—color, layout, and other visuals we call style. Well, if you are interested in making websites, you should definitely start with HTML and CSS.

Let’s move to JavaScript. It is the first full programming language for many people. Why? It is the next logical step after learning HTML and CSS. JavaScript provides the behavior portion of a website. For example, when you see that a form field indicates an error, that’s probably JavaScript at work.

JavaScript has become increasingly popular, and it now lives outside web browsers as well. Learning JavaScript will put you in a good place as it becomes a more general-purpose language.

Some people also suggest choosing Python as the first programming language because Python’s program code is readable, first of all. You don’t even need to be a programmer to understand what is happening in the program. Due to the simple syntax of Python you will need less time for writing programs than in Java, for example. A huge base of libraries will save you a lot of strength, nerves and time. Large technology companies are working with Python: Yandex, Google, Facebook and YouTube. It is used for web applications, game development, software for servers.

Java can also be a good choice for a beginner. This language is more popular than Python, but a bit more complicated. At the same time, the development tools are much better designed. Java is one of the most popular languages for the backend development of modern enterprise web applications. It is used in Amazon, eBay, LinkedIn and Yahoo! With Java and the frameworks based on it, developers can create scaling web apps for a wide range of users. Java is also the primary language used for developing Android applications for smart phones and tablets. Moreover, after Java you will be able to work with low level programming languages.

PHP is one more popular language. The PHP language, along with databases (e.g. MySQL) is an important tool for creating modern web applications. Most of the sites developed on PHP are focused on a large amount of data. It is also a fundamental technology of powerful content management systems like WordPress. There are no normal imports in PHP, there are many solutions to one and the same problem. And it makes training more complicated.

 

 
The languages C and C# are a bit complicated for a beginner. But if you develop software for embedded systems, work with system kernels or just want to squeeze out every last drop from all available resources, C is what you need.

Ruby has begun to gain popularity since 2003, when the framework Rails appeared. Used widely among web startups and big companies alike, Ruby and Rails jobs are pretty easy to come by. Ruby and Rails make it easy to transform an idea into a working application, and they have been used to bring us Twitter, GitHub, and Treehouse.

Choosing a programming language may still seem challenging. It shouldn’t. You can’t go wrong. As long as you choose a language that is regularly used in technology today, you’re winning. When you are starting out, the goal is to become solid in the basics, and the basics are pretty similar across almost all modern programming languages.

Part of learning to code is learning a language’s syntax (its grammatical or structural rules). A much bigger part of learning to code, the part that takes longer and gives you more headaches, is learning to solve problems like a programmer. You can learn the grammatical structure of the English language pretty quickly; however, you won’t truly understand the language until you put that grammatical structure to use in a conversation. The same is true in programming. You want to learn the core concepts in order to solve problems. Doing this in one language is similar to doing it in another. Because the core concepts are similar from language to language, I recommend sticking with whichever language you choose until your understanding of the core concepts is solid. If you have a clear idea of your reasons for learning to program, and know exactly what you want to accomplish with your new coding skills, then you’ll be able to make the right choice.

How did you guys get into programming? What are the best programming languages for first-time learners?

Please, share with us your experience and opinion here below 🙂

 

Kate Kviatkovskaya

Kate Kviatkovskaya

Business Development Manager

E-mail: Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype: kate.kviatkovskaya
LI Profile: Kate Kviatkovskaya

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

js

JavaScript is celebrating 20th anniversary in 2015. It’s a language with a changeable history and carries a lot of baggage from its childhood, but as it leaves its teenage years behind it, now it’s a language that has finally grown up. JavaScript made a revolution in web by allowing scripts to run in a browser. But after its initial popularity soon the reputation was spoiled and JS was often associated with poorly written, cut-and-pasted code that was used to create annoying pop-ups and cheesy ‘effects’. Thus we see that JavaScript had some annoying weaknesses as a programming language.

On the other hand, we can observe that JavaScript has “ubiquity” that other programming languages don’t have. One must admit that you just need a browser to run, which means that anyone with a smartphone or computer is capable of running a JavaScript application. JavaScript has made the dream true that Java was available on all platforms by using the browser as its virtual machine. And now thanks to Node.js, it can run without a browser.

It is well known fact that simple text editor – is all you need to write a program in JS. JavaScript has a low barrier to entry when it comes to development. And we also must agree with GitHub that JavaScript is one of the most popular languages. This means that help is often easy to come by and there is a lot of JavaScript code out there. Furthermore, one should not forget that it also means that code’ libraries are well tested and many issues have already been solved.

After a first decade, which was a period of awkward childhood, JavaScript was growing up like most of the teenagers. People changed their mind with the revolutionary advent of Ajax. jQuery then made people using JavaScript to build some new applications and Node has taken it all to a whole serious level. JavaScript established itself as a powerful and flexible language with some cool features such as:
– Prototype-based Inheritance
– Closures
– JSON (subset of the object literal notation of JavaScript)
– Asynchronous event-driven programming
– Functions as objects

Frameworks and Libraries

Lots of frameworks and libraries have been written to mitigate problems and improve JavaScript for programming. JavaScript framework is the set of pre-written JavaScript code that helps to ease development of the JS based applications. This framework is also known as JavaScript libraries, which enhance the use of this programming language in many ways.
We have already shared some posts about the JavaScript frameworks in the past. JavaScript framework can be found anywhere on the web with different type of working capabilities. We have selected few of them to keep an eye on, and we hope you will find our compilation useful.

1) Angular.js

Open-source web application framework. It aims to simplify both the development and the testing of such applications by providing a framework for client-sidemodel–view–controller (MVC) and model–view–viewmodel (MVVM) architectures, along with components commonly used in rich Internet applications.

2) Ember.js

Open-source JavaScript application framework, based on the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern. It allows developers to create scalable single-page web applications by incorporating common idioms and best practices into the framework.

3) Meteor (MeteorJS)

Open-source JavaScript web application framework written using Node.js. Meteor allows for rapid prototyping and produces cross-platform (web, Android, iOS) code. It integrates with MongoDB and uses the Distributed Data Protocol and a publish–subscribe pattern to automatically propagate data changes to clients without requiring the developer to write any synchronization code. On the client, Meteor depends on jQuery and can be used with any JavaScript UI widget library.

4) Backbone.js

JavaScript library with a RESTful JSON interface and is based on the model–view–presenter (MVP) application design paradigm. Backbone is known for being lightweight, as its only dependency is on one JavaScript library, Underscore.js. It is designed for developing single-page web applications, and for keeping various parts of web applications (e.g. multiple clients and the server) synchronized. Backbone was created by Jeremy Ashkenas, who is also known for CoffeeScript.

5) Knockout.js

JavaScript implementation of the Model-View-ViewModel pattern with templates. Main principles are: a clear separation between domain data, view components and data to be displayed; the presence of a clearly defined layer of specialized code to manage the relationships between the view components. These features streamline and simplify the specification of complex relationships between view components, which in turn make the display more responsive and the user experience richer.

6) Ext JS (Sencha Ext JS)

JavaScript application for building interactive cross platform web applications using techniques such as Ajax, DHTML and DOM scripting. Ext JS includes interoperability with jQuery andPrototype.

7) D3.js (D3)

JavaScript library for producing dynamic, interactive data visualizations in web browsers. It makes use of the widely implemented SVG, HTML5, and CSS standards. It is the successor to the earlier Protovis framework. In contrast to many other libraries, D3.js allows great control over the final visual result.

Conclusion

JavaScript will be one of the most important languages to learn and invest into over the next few years. Website development is into a single-page web application that relies on JavaScript to do the heavy lifting on the client side (in this case, usually JS goes with modern front-end frameworks such as Backbone or Angular.js). The advantage of using Isomorphic JavaScript is increasing the popularity of JS. The data that is transported from databases is often stored in JSON format. The possibility of using a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript let you build an application for iOS, Android and FireFox OS. JavaScript has existing libraries, plugins, APIs and other cool stuff to be broad used in The Internet of Things (IoT). JavaScript is becoming the language not just for the front and back end of web development, but also for interacting with a huge number of modern devices.

To sum up, I must admit that now is the perfect time to get started with JavaScript projects, as it moves into its 20s, and has finally grown up for starting to go places!
What are your opinions about JavaScript future, its libraries and frameworks? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

Svetlana Pozdnyakova

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

There is no doubt that mobile industry is one of the most intensely growing nowadays. Any product that earlier used to be desktop or web is moving towards going mobile. Everyone is taking designing experiences for smaller screens seriously. As for the web, we’re seeing swarms of recently updated sites that are employing responsive design or more mobile-friendly layouts. This is quite critical, especially when you consider that accessing the web from mobile devices is on track to surpass desktop usage in a just a year or two.

With so many mobile apps/sites out there you have to do all it takes to deliver a good mobile product that will be competitive on the market. The key input for success here often is conditioned by the convenience of mobile services. You have to start predicting what the customer wants to see when they try a mobile application or website. The use of mobile context in delivering mobile experience is just one of the big challenges that application developers face. Here’s a number of the most important challenges we see.

1. Mobile Context

There has always been emphasis on context – the idea of being sensitive to where users might be and what they might be doing at the same time that they’re using your app/site. Is a user in line at the grocery store or on the living-room couch? Is a user connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi access, with fast page loads, or an infuriatingly weak Internet connection? Are both of the user’s hands holding the device in landscape orientation, or is the user using only the right thumb to navigate the interface in portrait mode? We have to think about all of this. Basically the customer’s mobile context consists of:

Preferences: the history and personal decisions the customer has shared with you or with social networks.
Situation: the current location, of course, but other relevant factors could include the altitude, environmental conditions and even speed the customer is experiencing.
Attitude: the feelings or emotions implied by the customer’s actions and logistics.

Getting a good contextual awareness will require collecting information from many sources. For instance it could be mobile device itself, the local context of devices and sensors around them an extended network of things they care about and the historical context of their preferences. Gathering this data is a major challenge because it will be stored on multiple systems of record to which your app will need to connect.

2. Device Proliferation

Another challenge facing mobile developers is device proliferation. It looked like mobile app development process was pretty well defined: build your app, make sure it looks pretty on a 4-inch smartphone and a 10-inch tablet, then submit it to an app store. Most app developers prioritized a few popular devices, such as the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPad.

It’s not quite that easy now, and it’ll be much tougher in the near future. Picking the most popular devices will become more of a challenge as device types and platforms proliferate. Google and Apple already support tablets of different sizes and, with Windows 8 now shipping, developers can expect to find a whole range of larger touch-sensitive devices, such as Hewlett-Packard’s Envy series.

3. Voice rather than Touch

There are a lot of situations where you would want to build voice input into your app today. For a running or fitness app, a phone is likely to be strapped to a person’s sweaty arm. The same is true while driving. Modern applications are to let people use their devices while keeping their eyes and hands off it.

4. Hybrid Applications

With each release, popular mobile operating systems get better at supporting HTML5 and its attendant APIs. That capability will let companies reuse more code across multiple devices, which will be important in keeping app development costs down taking into account the proliferation of connected devices and form factors.

As a result we could expect that more companies will turn to web technologies with a centralized code base for core components of their connected applications. That centralized code is likely to be a combination of HTML, JavaScript and CSS, because the vast majority of devices will support it. Much of this HTML5 will be delivered as hybrid apps, which mix HTML code into a native container and use native code for navigation and platform specific integration. These hybrid apps will get more sophisticated and capable as a result. We’re already seeing compelling enterprise applications built with the hybrid approach.

5. Cloud Powered Mobile Applications

With the power of the cloud, the mobile application market is about to change radically. Several industry analysts predict that mobile applications will gradually move to the cloud and move away from being installed and run directly from the handsets themselves. Instead, cloud powered mobile applications are accessed and executed directly from the cloud through a mobile web browser interface and several technologies facilitating this change are already available. HTML5, for example, is necessary for enabling caching on the handset, so that users will experience uninterrupted service levels despite fluctuations in network service delivery.

Cloud powered mobile applications are not limiting their choice to one platform. Application developers also have real advantages from mobile cloud computing. The largest benefit is that it allows them to have access to a larger market. This means developers will have a much wider market which means they can bypass the restrictions created by mobile operating systems. But with greater developers’ power comes greater responsibility for security and performance. Expect more developers to be on call for application support in the new model, using triage to handle defects and investigate degradation to production services. Those tasks have traditional been the domain of systems administrators. Expect IT operations personnel to become integrated into development teams and to start their work at the inception of an idea.

I think the challenges mentioned are some of the most important ones. What are the challenges you have already faced in the mobile development? Even more interesting to hear about the challenges you are envisaging for the near future! As usual many thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

With the growing popularity of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices the living has become more comfortable. The different types of apps help us to wake up in time, to entertain reading books, booking tickets, listening to favorite music and just chat with friends without extra expenses. Among the challenges in mobile app market stands also the developing of effective web browsing solutions.

In this article I would like to take a look at DHTMLX Touch framework that helps to create nice-looking and easy-to-use mobile web apps oriented to touchscreen devices.

DHTMLX Touch is a free open source Javascript framework/library for building HTML5-based mobile web apps.
DHTMLX was originally designed to work in traditional mouse-driven web browsers, however since the web moved to mobile devices, it was important to have all parts of the web interface touch-ready and looking good on small screens. After some tests made were approved that DHTMLX library will definitely work in mobile environments with Javascript support too. So the planned mouse was replaced with touch events to provide touch-based user interactions.

Let’s see what the characteristics of DHTMLX Touch are:

-compatible with the main web browsers for mobile platforms that support HTML5;

-free under both GNU GPL and commercial Licenses;

-lots of technical samples with the source code that simplify studying how the UI elements work;

– expanded builder tools:
Skin Builder – an online tool that allows you to build mobile web apps through a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface. Since v.1.2, you can save your design or share it by sending an URL.
Visual Designer – a simple online tool that provides an easy way to choose the skin for you app and customize the skin colors. A set of predefined skins is included.
Touch UI Inspector – a free extension for Google Chrome that provides a handy visual tool for monitoring the inner state of DHTMLX Touch JavaScript components on a web page.

-server side is based on the on dhtmlxConnectors (the same that used for DHTMLX Ajax library) that simplifies client –server communication;

– simplified scheme of CSS editing.

The current version of DHTMLX Touch framework took a long way from the release of its first components dhtmlxTree and dhtmlxGrid in 2005-2006 to become a complete tool that covers the most required aspects of modern application interface. Three months ago in September, 2012 was presented the updated version 1.2. And now we will see what are the new features and improvements were added:

* Bug fixing – more stable and faster performance, better compatibility with the latest iOS and Android platforms;
* Updated visual designer tool: new Unitlist component, new charts, and the ability to share and save your design;
* Auto-complete for IDEs: Microsoft Visual Studio, PHPStorm, WebStorm, NetBeans, Aptana Studio, Eclipse, and others
* Multiple fixes in form validation logic
* Better memory management: automatic destructors clean up the memory, which helps to prevent memory leaks if the app has a complicated inheritance structure
* Better support of full-screen mode

Many companies around the world make the preference towards DHTMLX saying that it’s very simple, flexible and easy-to-use with a live support forum.

If you have already an experience working with DHTMLX Touch framework or heard something about using it, feel free to share your thoughts/experience by leaving a comment.

You can also have a look at new features of DHTMLX Touch framework and the samples of apps already implemented following the link to the official website http://dhtmlx.com.

Thank you for your attention.

 

Katerina Bulavskaya

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

What does the future of Java look like? Many users see Java as stuck in a quagmire, while others go so far as to say Java is dead. Is it really so?

Java, one of the long-dominant platforms for building enterprise solutions, has been steadily evolving since its first release in 1996, with a new major version coming every one to two years. However, Java 7 has been stuck in a quagmire for four years, with the Java community struggling to refine the implementations of two of its sub-projects, Project Jigsaw and Project Lambda. However when the Java Specification Requests for Java 7 have finally been approved for release, Projects Jigsaw and Lambda were delayed until Java 8. This news has disappointed many in the community, as these two features were seen as the major draw of Java 7.

Many users see Java continuing to languish. Still the innovation needed to keep Java relevant will come from broader Java ecosystem, and not from Oracle or the Java Community Process that governs changes to Java.

The Java ecosystem, driven by the open source community, has always compensated for Java’s inadequacies.

And more and more often the community turns to new programming language paradigms, as it is uncertain whether the Java programming languages will be able to innovate fast enough to keep that attention of developers seeking the next challenge.

Java is traditionally viewed as just a programming language, but it is more than that. Java consists of three parts: the programming language, the virtual machine and the class libraries. The community has long been porting existing languages and creating new languages that run on the JVM. In fact there are over 200 programming languages that can be used to write code that runs on a Java Virtual Machine.

The beauty in using a programming language other than Java on the JVM is the most languages have interoperability. This means that you could take a new service being built in your system, write it in some other language, and still have it call an existing pure Java service or component.

The idea of using a specific programming language to achieve a particular task should not seem foreign to developers. Web application developers have to be fluent in at least five programming languages in order to build a modern Web application – HTML for the Web content, CSS for styling and the layout of this content, Javascript if you want a rich user interface, SQL if your application is to be data-driven and, lastly, the programming language and platform you have selected for the middle-tier business logic.

This model makes perfect sense. CSS is good at defining the look and feel of a Web page, but you wouldn’t write business logic with it. SQL is great for accessing and updating relational data, but it is not good at generating a user interface. So why shouldn’t this paradigm apply to the programming languages with which we choose to build our core logic? Shouldn’t we be choosing a language that solves the problem best and not trying to force the one we know into the solution?

Another huge advantage of the polyglot JVM is that when you begin to weave these various languages together to write a single application. By taking advantages of the characteristics of various JVM languages, you can target languages for various features or layers in your architecture.

The most common argument against using dynamic languages running in the JVM is that they are slow. Although this might be true, they are getting faster all the time, and a major performance gain is expected in Java 7 with the Invoke Dynamic JSR.

Clearly, this approach is not without added complexity and there are various recommended approaches in the industry on how to evolve your application architecture into a polyglot nature.

Java remains the premiere platform for building enterprise applications based on not only its solid foundation, but its language innovations that will allow developers to build faster, scalable systems quickly. By taking advantage of the flexibility that Java has always provided and adding a polyglot and poly-paradigm approach to software development, development teams can innovate inside an existing infrastructure with little or no changes to their infrastructure, making the sales pitch to management all the easier.

Java has evolved and will continue to evolve, with this changing landscape due to the flexible nature of the java platform. This is the advantage that makes Java relevant now and will keep it relevant for years to come.

So does it still make sense to build new-generation Web applications on Java? The answer is yes, fortunately, due to the rise in popularity of polyglot programming and the innovations it brings to the Java platform. Do you personally agree with this?

Kind regards,
Aliona Kavalevich
Altabel Group – professional software development


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