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a bit of background:

I come from an environment where we all started to learn programming with Excel VBA and later VB6 (yeah, VB6 - but we were young and it was great fun these days). So to me, it was a completely natural way of getting started with programming.

I later worked in a VB-related programming forum where a major part of the community comprised exactly these young amateur programmers. Now of course, VB is a dying language so we made a transition into .NET languages (C# and VB.NET), but the number of visitors was (and is) steadily declining. It's these young programming kids that we'are lacking in particular.

We could have well attributed this solely to VB, but I looked around in other forums and they all seem to face similar problems.

So my question is

Where are today's programming kids gone? Is .NET "more professional" in a way that it attracts fewer junior programmers than the older languages (VBC, Delphi, Pascal, whatever one used to start with) did? Or is it a broader phenomenon that we've got fewer "new blood" today?

Does anyone have similar (or contrary) experience in this points? Where have the kids gone and which languages are they using (hopefully not all Java/Javascript :D )? Or maybe it's the concept of forums that's on the decline?!

I'd just want to collect some thoughts here, and hopefully hard data if it should be available. Thanks

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closed as off topic by gnat, Ryathal, Walter, Thomas Owens Aug 2 '12 at 13:58

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My son (14) is having tremendous fun with both Python and Javascript.. Also, the Google Code-in has had no problems attracting kids-that-code. –  Martijn Pieters Aug 2 '12 at 12:31
    
Could downvoters please care to explain why? Also: I know this question is subjective, but if this isn't the appropriate place to ask, please name another? This isn't Stackoverflow after all –  Dario Aug 2 '12 at 12:37
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Wow, -4 on the question and no one bothers to explain what's wrong? That's embarrassing! Please point out why this isn't a constructive question in the sense of programmers.stackexchange.com/… –  Dario Aug 2 '12 at 13:55
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Hi Dario, I suspect the downvotes are because this question really can't be answered, and all the answers will likely be speculation or personal stories. In addition, the scope of Programmers has changed from the original Programmers scope, so this type of question is no longer considered on-topic for the site. –  Rachel Aug 2 '12 at 15:03
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@Dario: I'm noticing that people here are afraid of posts containing rant, even though it's a valid form of expression, open discussions, or questions not answerable directly. Usually the response is to post in chat, which quite often is a nonsense talk, or some dedendforum.stackexchange.com. Sometimes I hate this, because interesting questions or discussions are closed in seconds, and there is no alternative to SE with such high profile of attendance. –  Coder Aug 3 '12 at 23:28

1 Answer 1

Starter languages are intentionally simple. LOGO and BASIC are some examples of "streamlined" languages that simplify the process of teaching programming. Unfortunately, they suffer from not being able to play nicely with other applications such as Internet based apps.

There is a related challenge with "useful" programming languages that makes them harder to learn as a first language. The .NET framework is huge. Comparatively speaking, so are Java and C++ with their associated frameworks that are required to write the more interesting programs. "More interesting" is defined as having visuals; themed UI, DB interaction; or integration with other applications. Unfortunately, "more interesting" means a steep learning curve as well. Even good, old C can be tortuously convoluted once pointers start getting introduced. And good luck connecting to a web service in C without a supporting library.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs are supplanting some of those strictly programming activities. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you asked "where have the kids gone?" Robotics programs, such as with Lego Mindstorms are another, related example of where programming kids are going.

What languages the "kids" are using depends upon what they're trying to do. Writing a webpage? Probably javascript or perhaps python or perl or HTML# or whatever. Robotics work or Arduino hacking? Probably C and the Arduino language.

I would argue that more could be done to increase STEM participation, but that's another question. VB forums and the like are dying off simply because they don't hold relevance for what people are trying to do today. The user base has shifted on to other projects.

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