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[REBOL] Re: Personal Programming and Rebol Promotion

From: nick1:musiclessonz at: 17-Dec-2007 9:54

Hi Carl, For a year or so, I really talked alot about Rebol with friends and students while I was writing the tutorials, and was able to introduce it to a number of people. I have watched several teenagers, college students, and adults pick up Rebol and accomplish significant goals with it. That's actually the reason for my long-winded plea :) One college student had taken a course in Java, and afterward didn't really know enough to do anything practical in that environment. She stopped studying guitar for a while, and took Rebol lessons with me instead, because she had a specific programming goal in mind that she couldn't achieve in Java. We wrote a program together that helped her lay out knitting pattern diagrams. VID was so easy for her to understand and work with, right away. I just helped her with some general concepts, and helped when she ran into stumbling blocks. I've also written a number of little scripts with music students that help organize projects at the shop, and one student runs a web site about duct tape art that uses a Rebol script we created together. One of our teachers is a hobbyist C programmer. He dabbles in it, but is frustrated, and hasn't built many useful apps. He's been curious about all the practical code that runs the shop - I've already introduced Rebol, he's hooked, and I'm working on him next :) Maybe it's just because I've actually tried to draw students' interest personally, and also because I have a lot of organized material to show off right away, but in my experience, the same type of people who are curious about learning html, or who may have been interested in code but never got much past "hello world" in another language, or who've pasted javascript code into a web page - the intellectually curious - those people seem to have an easy time learning Rebol (I consider them "average people" - maybe I should qualify my rant to include only "average people who've demonstrated interest in code, but who haven't discovered satisfying results" :). It doesn't take much of an introduction - I just download and run this little program, type in some functions, and it does something interesting. I show people how to read their email and how to create some simple GUIs. That's easy enough for anyone to "get" right away, and it just takes a few minutes. I introduce functions, blocks, variables, loops, conditional evaluations, data types, and network protocols all in one shot with some short code examples. The intellectual types who've had any other experience with any type of code tend to be curious about the potential, just because it's so simple to do eye-opening things, right away. I demonstrate the mechanics of typing in some simple syntax, and then explain the idea of assigning word labels to data (especially values returned from functions), and they're off and running. People really enjoy creating GUIs, and that gets them intruiged with Rebol quickly. There's hardly any learning curve, and it's fun. In my experience, I've seen many curious young people have fun learning Rebol basics. It's all about the simplicity of implementation, and the quick ramping up toward visual results and insight into conceptual potential. There's no big download or long install process. There's no visually intricate IDE. There's no learning about imported modules or OO concepts before creating GUIs and network programming. The program's tiny, everything's built-in and simple to start with. One-liners really accomplish something tangible and it's easy to see some useful potential, right away. The path towards real insight and satisfying capability is short enough that passing interest and light curiousity yields significant results, right away. That's the difference with Rebol. I show my students how I created the variety of CGI scripts and GUI scripts we use on a daily basis at the shop, and demonstrate how simple they were to create, and they just see it right away as something they can do. That's why I think we have the potential to attract more beginner users than other development environments. I've seen it happen, and I think Rebol's missing out by not connecting with that market in a bigger way... That part is opinion, but it's based on my few experiences :)