Programming is at the heart of open source software. Learning programming is a great way to explore new ideas and create programs that are useful for you. This year, Opensource.com authors shared many excellent articles about programming, from how new programmers can get started, to how experts can learn more about the details. Here are six articles to get you excited about programming:
Write documentation like you develop code
For many programmers, writing documentation is almost an afterthought. We've written the code, but writing the documentation is a whole new challenge. Lorna Mitchell shares several tips to help you change your approach to writing documentation. If you focus on writing documentation like you would write code, you'll have an easier time. Think about text formats, source control, pull requests, review cycles, and continuous integration and deployment.
Guide to GCC
You write the code, click a button in your development environment to build it, and you're done. But there's a lot more happening behind the scenes. Jayashree Huttanagoudar wrote an excellent explanation of what it takes for the compiler to produce a binary file. The article walks through the steps to turn source code into an executable program using the GNU C Compiler, including pre-processing, compiling, assembling, and linking.
If you like that article and want to learn more about the internals of how programs get built, you should also read Jayashree's follow-up article about How dynamic linking for modular libraries works on Linux.
Parsing data with strtok in C
Some programs can process an entire file at once, but other programs need to examine the file line-by-line. In the latter case, you likely need to parse data in each line. Fortunately, the C programming language has a standard C library function to do just that. I write about how to use the
strtok function in C to parse data out of strings. Use it in your next project to simplify how you read data into your program.
Perl is a powerful programming language. Sometimes considered merely a scripting system, Perl also provides object oriented programming. It also comes backed by thousands of libraries and frameworks to help you build more complex applications. Seth Kenlon and Dave Morriss shared an overview to help you get started, and created a cheat sheet that serves as a handy programmer's reference.
Practical advice for new programmers
If you're getting started in learning how to write your own programs, Sachin Samal wrote an excellent article to help you get started. Don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas and to keep practicing by writing new programs. Being an efficient and curious problem-solver will help you succeed as a programmer.
10 universal steps for open source code review
Working in open source software projects means working with other developers from around the world. Open source work isn't all programming. Developers also review code from other contributors. Martin Kopec wrote about his perspective in how to perform a code review. He also includes a few useful tips about what to look for, and questions to ask yourself when doing the review.
Programming is hard work, but it's also a lot of fun. Read up on a new library, a new language, or a new technique, and then go and put it into practice. And of course, make it open source!