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Issue 14.5 ('Keyboard Shortcuts')
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Making Better Examples 2

More tips for improving examples and tutorials

Issue: 14.5 (September/October 2016)
Author: Markus Winter
Author Bio: Markus is a Molecular Biologist who taught himself REALbasic programming in 2003 to let the computer deal with some exceedingly tedious lab tasks. Some call it lazy, he thinks it smart. He still thinks of himself as an advanced beginner at best.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 13,356
Starting Page Number: 41
Article Number: 14505
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Excerpt of article text...

Once upon a time, getting into programming meant reading the somewhat flimsy documentation, going out and buying a few books in a store, and then working your way through them. Most books were good, only a few were bad, and sometimes a couple might stand head and shoulders above anything else (The C Programming Language written by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie and Matt Neuburg's REALbasic: The definitive Guide come to mind). In any case the books were written by people who often had a good grasp of both the subject matter as well as teaching itself, and consequently were hired by publishers to produce those books.

The internet changed all that. Everyone can publish for free on a website, and they often do. Most users also do not go to bookstores anymore (if there even is one), but get into Xojo by reading and working through online tutorials, blog posts, YouTube videos, and webinars.

Thanks to Paul Lefebvre, Bob Keeney, xDev and xDev Library, and many others, there is now a large body of material to work your way through, and guest blogs and guest webinars add more variety. Consequently, the market for programming books has shrunk, and sadly Matt Neuburg will never write Xojo: the Definitive Guide.

But how do these new resources compare? I don't want to curb anyone's enthusiasm, but there are a few things I noticed.

Follow the Script!

I spend a lot of time in biological and medical research, and also in training and teaching students and technicians. You need to be really good (and also quite lucky) at research to get a permanent teaching position, which unfortunately sometimes results in excellent researchers occupying teaching positions even though they have little to no talent for—or sometimes interest in—teaching. The worst mistake they usually make is that they do their teaching in an unstructured (or should I say unprepared) way, jumping from C to G to A to D and so on, leaving a lot of very confused students behind (and it is usually up to the course assistants to explain it properly to the students).

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