On Mar 24, 2010, at 3:24 PM, jenny wrote:

> My question is, where would you recommend I would begin? What's hot
> right now in the library world? Python, PERL, Ruby? Any advice you'd
> have for a beginner like me or even recommendations for online courses
> would be extremely appreciated

If you are approaching the problem for the point of view of learning a programming language, then then you have outlined pretty good choices. At the risk of starting a religious war, I like Perl, but PHP is more popular. Java is pretty good too, but IMHO it doesn't really matter. In the end you will need to use the best tool for the job.

Another way to approach the problem is to have a programming language dictated to you. Is there  a particular (open source) software package that interests you? Koha? WordPress? Lucene? If so, then choose the language of that software package. Perl, PHP, and Java, respectively.

Just as important as the actual language may be the programming techniques you will have to learn. Now-a-day knowing how to read and write XML is almost imperative. Knowing how to do I/O against a database is all but necessary. Understanding how to send URL's to remote resources and parsing the results is common place. Learning how to output your content as an HTTP response is all too common. All of the languages incorporate extensions for doing such things.

Finally, the whole thing usually boils down to, "What works for you?" Personally, I have never been able to pick up a computer language without first having real-world problem to solve. Do you have any "itches" that need "scratching"?

Eric Lease Morgan
University of Notre Dame