Baseball cards for programming languages

Excuse the decided lack of weasels around here lately. I’ve been laboring to rebuild this site on a new domain. When you see it, you’re going to be, like, “what’s the big? It looks like the old site” (I know this, because I’ve heard it already). But I built this one! Myself! From scratch (kinda)!

This means learning yet another scripting language — WordPress pages are built with php. PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. It’s a recursive acronym. The first letter of the acronym is the acronym, so it stands for itself. This sort of thing appeals to people who spent childhood wiggling their fingers inside a mirror sandwich. Geek humor: it makes milk shoot out of your nose.

I once joked that I have written “hello world!” in fifty languages (oh, how we laughed!). I don’t know what it’s like in real programming, but over here in Artsy Fartsy World, every goddamn Web application and multimedia program has its own little scripting language (or markup language or scene description language). And they all have grammar that is maddeningly similar but maddeningly different. It’s maddening.

You can find tons of tutorials online, but they all start “a computer is a programmable device comprised of hardware and software.” And you’re, like, can we fast forward a little? The O’Reilly books are good, but if I bought a book every time I wanted to know something, I’d live in a house stacked floor to ceiling with books. Because I do.

What I want is something like a baseball card for programming languages. You know, like:

Name: Lingo
Goes with: Macromedia Director
Characteristics: feels like a scripting language built by a nonprogrammer who watched somebody else code one afternoon and guessed what all the funny words meant
At the end of each line of code: no character, a line of type is a line of code
Blocks of code are surrounded by: no character
Comment character: two dashes at the beginning

Like that. Anybody know of a site like that? This Wikibooks thing on programming languages is close. But I’m thinking more list, less blah-blah-blah.


  1. Posted February 12, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m somewhat capable with VBA and I took a Java class a few years ago. I’ve played around with a few scripting languages from time to time – Oracle has it’s own scripting language I had to deal with. A few months ago I showed my boss a program I wrote in VBA and he asked, “When did they stop using line numbers?”
    “Ah, well – quite some time ago actually.”

  2. Posted February 13, 2007 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Visual Basic is the only Microsoft product I ever really loved. I wrote several applications in an early version. Up to that point, most programming I had done involved buying expensive code libraries to handle video cards and menus and all that jazz (because that stuff was WAY over my head). With VB, you drew a picture of what your application should look like and then stuck code to the buttons. It was a hoot. I was like “lookit me! I’m a programmer!”

    I wrote one demo in VB I’m still proud of. Well, the coding wasn’t much, but the visuals were way before their time. Basically, you used little arrows at the bottom of the screen to navigate around a big room. Depending on which button you hit, it would play the appropriate pre-rendered video clip. It *looked* like you were moving around the room freely, but it took 70 carefully aligned separate 3D video clips strung together to give the illusion of free will.

    From every given position, there were three or four clips: step forward (unless you were facing a wall), rotate right, rotate left, turn around completely. Plus you could examine certain objects in detail.

    This was 1996, the year Doom was released. So people were just absorbing the idea of moving freely around a landscape and assumed that’s what the program was doing. Only, Doom’s graphics were pretty crunchy. I stole the multiple-videos technique from a game called Seventh Guest. But, because they were modeling a much larger landscape, they had to use graphics that weren’t much higher than Doom’s.

    Because I had the luxury of a small area, limited motion and canned clips, my demo was large and photorealistic quality. Advanced lighting and atmospherics and everything — pretty gob-smacking stuff in 1996. Still looks pretty good today. I have allowed the idea to persist that I am a soooper geeenius.

  3. whitishrabbit
    Posted February 13, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    *whines* Today’s funny?

  4. nbpundit
    Posted February 13, 2007 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Have you yet gowned Stoat with a tool belt?
    A grand sweasely way of showing off his
    studly wrench.

    Be brave! Write your new site with assembly
    language as this site:!

  5. geoff
    Posted February 13, 2007 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    My wife and I played Seventh Guest. The pulsing skeleton head guy always cracked us up.

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