the scan artist

Paul Morganthall

Should you learn to program?

A relative of mine heading to college next year recently asked…

The more I need to do things, the more feel like I need to know how to program, so that when something doesn’t do what I need it to do I can develop something that does. I suspect though, that fixing a small functionality preference like this would take an absurdly long time, like the better part of a year. Maybe I’m better off getting rich instead.

By all means, get rich, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether you should learn to program. If there is any question in your mind, try it. There are so many ways to dip your toe in these days. It is worthwhile to see if you like programming. If you’re good at programming and don’t hate it, you could make some money even if programming is not your main interest.

Where should you start? Try learning Ruby. There are many resources available, and Ruby comes preloaded with an extremely helpful community. If you end up needing to program in some other language, most of your Ruby skills will be applicable. Ruby is on your MacBook right now, and is easily installed on other systems.

Perhaps you don’t need to get rich or learn to program. If a program doesn’t do what you need, perhaps another program does. There are two parts to this question, both of which you’ll refine over time.

  1. Is your computer system even capable of this function?
  2. Has someone already created the program you want?

Start by asking Google. Then ask your uncles, many of whom share your platform. Over time, you’ll get a feel for what is possible and what is available. Until then, Learn Ruby!