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  Question: What is a compiler? [Suggest Answer]

Psion: A compiler is a program that translates your human-readable program code into some other format that is generally easier and more efficient for a computer to process. Most compilers output executable files. In DOS or Windows, these are ".EXE" files.

vikram_1982: A Compiler is a language dependent piece of software that helps convert the program source code into binary 1's and 0's that make much more sense to the computer.

A compiler considers the program to be as "one whole" as opposed to an interpreter that translates program code line-by-line.

Question: I've never programmed before. How do I start? [Suggest Answer]

taubz: Here are some suggestions for which programming language to choose to get started.

You'll more than likely need to download software to run or compile your programs. Links to the relevant websites are provided below. For the answer to What is a compiler?, find the question in this FAQ.

Chances are, you already have QBasic on your computer. If you have Microsoft Windows, go to an MS DOS prompt, type qbasic and get started with your first BASIC program. BASIC is probably THE easiest language to learn. Although it is not at all powerful, it is a fairly good stepping stone to VisualBasic or C. It's also the easiest to set up, since you probably already have it. Some say this is not the best way to start programming, but it is a way.

Python is a simple and powerful language that should be easy enough for beginners to grasp yet powerful enough to handle complex programming. Check out the Python web site for more information: http://www.python.org

Pascal is just a little bit more difficult than QBasic, but you are likely to learn more from it. It is a much better stepping stone to other structured languages, such as C. Delphi is similar to Pascal, but for Windows.

Based on the BASIC language, VB is a very powerful environment that allows you to create MS Windows applications very quickly. Though it lacks the processing power of most other languages, it is still quite useful. As with all Microsoft products, it comes with a cost. VB is a good stepping stone to other Visual or object oriented languages, such as Delphi or C++. http://msdn.microsoft.com/vbasic

Other Languages
You might also take a look at Scheme (http://www.scheme.org), Euphoria (http://www.RapidEuphoria.com), SmallTalk, or JavaScript.

For the brave...
If you have some experience in programming and are ready to take on a challenge, there is always C/C++. For more information, take a look at the QuickStart on C, linked from the main page of TPU.

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