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Putting the fun back in programming PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stekman (Stefan Ekman)   
Friday, 05 November 2010 12:45

StekmanOnce upon a time there was a boy. He had just managed to get the newly built Sinclair ZX80 to start. A small BASIC program showed the text "Hello World!" repeated ten times on the screen. The boy was happy.

Almost all the first computers for home use had a BASIC command-interface. To use a computer was the same thing as programming one. Games were distributed as source in computer magazines, and we typed them line by line. The joy when the letter A moved from side to side on the screen after an hour of typing basic code and then entering the command Run, can not be overrated.

Now all of us are using computers, and only a few are programming them. It is hard to impress anybody with a bouncing A-letter now. Hobby programming demands something more to be interesting and fun.

How I started playing with sharp objects

The boy has grown up and now I, the boy, am a teacher. As a teacher it is hard to get the teenagers interested in winform-applications, saying “Hello World” or calculating the cost for a rental car, so I decided to introduce XNA-game programming.

I remembered how I – once upon a time – started programming small games with “Fast Lightning Forth” and later C with Allegro and even later SDL. I remembered how much fun it was. XNA had one problem from the beginning and now has two: The first problem was that I could not use it in my favourite environment, Linux, and the second emerged a few weeks ago – Microsoft decided that the new version of Game Studio should be Xbox and WinPhone only.

The school where I work use C# as their language of choice. I am mainly a C++ programmer and use Java and PHP for some projects. As a “Linux fanboy” I also had some doubts about Microsoft and C#. Without thinking I repeated the slogan “Don't play with sharp objects”, just as large part of the opensource community.

But when I used C# in my classes, I realized that I was wrong: C# is a nice language, a good combination of the knowledge from easy to use languages such as Pascal and BASIC, efficient languages like C, and finally high level languages like C++ and Java. C# is portable but with good execution speed and C# is easy to use with lots of existing libraries. C# is fun and can be easy or complex depending on the choices of the programmer. Thus it is a good language for beginners and advanced programmers.

SDL.NETSo when I started looking for a new toolkit to program games with my students, I turned back to my old libraries, from C- and C++-programming. SDL felt more up to date than Allegro and the SDL.NET assembly was really easy to get started with. I was very happy until I found that the last update was two years ago. I mailed Dave Hudson, who was the last active developer and he answered that he had abandoned the project and asked me to continue it. As I really liked the library, I accepted to give it a try.

C# and game programming, what could be more fun?

Programming is fun, and what could make it more funny? The answer came by itself: The community around SDL.NET. Almost immediately new friends stepped forward, asking if they can help with the project. Help came from Canada and Romania. I know there are lots of other people waiting to join us. When XNA has changed direction people started looking for a new platform. Let the community grow!

So I say:

Join us and play with sharp objects!

SDL.NET is putting the fun back in programming.

Stefan Ekman aka Stekman


Last Updated on Friday, 05 November 2010 13:06
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