Confessions of a ten-year-old developer

In the popularity war among advanced technologies such as Java, elementary schools aren't exactly a target market. But maybe they should be. Hear how one fifth-grade developer views the industry he calls his own.

As the Twentieth Century ends, the programming revolution has reached all ages.

As a young child, I started programming in Basic, climbing the ladder soon to Visual Basic, then to C and gradually up to C++ -- then Java.

Starting with Basic, I made 1-D Duke Nukem games, which sometimes worked like Mr. Gates' demo of Windows 98 at his recent gala, dysfunctional. Along with creating "adventure," I used corresponding message codes to make primitive math and language interactional games, which I sadly misused as an assault weapon toward a teacher.

With Visual Basic, I really started to think that computers had a mind of their own. I was again making the same kinds of games, with enhancements like a weaponry selection for the Doom-sort ones, and even adding different dimensions.

As for the so-called education software, I started turning it into a Success Maker-type of program oddly enough to add small animals waving if you got the problem correct.

With C, the animals in the learning games in my programs started turning into mutated weird creatures, which was said by my teacher to be on the "X-Files" ratios. In C++, my work started to get more intuitive, and the blood got gorier, and the mutants were definitely mutated.

I really enjoy C++ for all its dimensional capabilities, though it is a bit rough from a strategic point of view (but definitely better than Basic).

Java was my last programming language. I really flowed with it, probably because of its ease of use and its taco-hot capabilities.

From my perspective, the languages that are on the market each have there own thrill, like how JavaBeans is cross-platform, so you don't have to re- and re-program your software.

My overall preference at this time is Java. Though it's missing some things, it has enough to fit my needs.

Visual Basic falls more under its own category, with a little of this and a dash of that. It did not strike me as the biggest deal, unless you count the education software. I think C++ is very good in 3D creative software, though it has a ways to go to get out of the circus with Java.

The roadblock ahead

With the "death" of DOS and the announcement of Windows NT powering the future of Windows 98, this presents problems to different software companies who don't use Java like some in the digital imaging field.

[Ed. note: Most PC games run on DOS in Windows 3.x and 95.]

Right now, they are trying to get a toehold on their software, programming it to be Windows 98-compatible. Yet they might be C or C++ users, not the cross-platform Java users. As for them, they will have some leadway on their software, such as "The first company to make Doom4 for Windows 98." (Too bad for those companies who don't work with Java, they should have just bugged Bill Gates for DR-DOS.)

But now in various software industries, some companies are saying they might upgrade to Java, for more leadway if another form of Windows should come out. (Some companies are even now suggesting they should have spies working in Redmond to report what is happening with Windows.)

My view

Every programmer asks, "Is this language really the best?"

Well, we have to play it by ear. The landscape is changing. Basically, our languages have major uses for us not only in desktop computers but in robotics hardware and everyday machinery, as well. Over a period of ten years, who knows what is going to happen with our industry.

A very powerful and smart new language would be the best outcome. Java is helpful in being compatible with other languages. But I think C++ and Java might be made even more compatible, like combining the speed and robustness of C++ with different Java capabilities: Java++. When I told this to an engineer at Sun, he said, "I think the government would have it tested for steroids."

Unfortunately, I think the owners of the R&D labs are more concerned now with just enhancing what they already have, believing that's the best way to go in the short term. Too bad.

If not combining programming efforts, then you might consider using a child prodigy as a future solution, though I don't think it's been patented.

Elliot Onn lives in Saratoga, Calif., where he attends Argonaut Elementary School. He has written online articles in the past for such organizations as ABC News, CBS News and Ziff-Davis.






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