01 Jan

More R Blank Screen Syndrome

I miss my menus

You may be wondering why you should learn a language rather than have a package that just gives you menus.

Do you carry a picture card around with you to communicate with other people? I suspect not. Language is much more convenient than having a small number of choices to point at. Pointing at pictures on a menu is marginally workable at restaurants in foreign countries. Much beyond that it becomes useless.

The computing world is not much different.

While learning a language requires expending extra effort at first, ultimately it will most likely save a lot of effort.

Write down the steps

If you are not sure how to proceed with a task, write down the steps you need to do in order to achieve the task.

You may have to break some steps into substeps. And substeps into subsubsteps.

Breaking a large task into bite-size steps is really all that programming is. Ultimately each step needs to be a command that the language understands.

Do the steps

Once you have the task broken down into steps, do the easy steps first.

This violates my real-life motto of saving the best until last, but there are reasons for doing the easy parts first:

  • your brain will work on solving the hard steps while you do the easy steps. The hard steps may not be inherently hard, you might effortlessly twig on the solution given some time.
  • finishing a step might show you that the whole enterprise is misdirected — doing easy steps first might save you a lot of time in this regard.

See also

Tao Te Programming

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