Learning Oberon-2

In a blog post on my son’s blog, I ruminated on helping young people to learn to program and what might be a good place to begin learning programming. At the end of the article, I suggested Oberon-2, a language created by Niklaus Wirth (creator of Pascal and Modula-2) and an associate. At the same time, I bemoaned the fact that I seemed to be unable to learn new languages, perhaps because of burnout or fatigue, perhaps lack of time, or even lack of a suitable project.

I have just about concluded that it is time to put up or shut up. I have a compiler, I have a book, and I have a project. It is time for me to go ahead and exercise some initiative and learn the language.

But perhaps you wonder why Oberon-2? Why not Java, which is also on the AS/400? I have commented on the steep learning curve. I have attempted Java tutorials; I have found them to be of a most forbidding nature. I don’t know if Java is supposed to be a “small” language or a “large” one; all I know is that one look at the documentation (see how long it takes you to scroll through the class list) makes me want to cringe. Of course, with any language, you usually use only subset of a language in your day-to-day programming; the problem here is finding what your subset consists of.

Why Oberon-2? It is object-oriented programming without the gobbledygook. A “method” is a procedure. A “class” is a record type. A variable of a record is an “object” or an “instance” of a “class”. A procedure call is essentially the same as “passing a message to an object”. I find the unquoted terms in the previous sentences more comprehensible than the corresponding terminology (in quotes) that has been perpetuated for the Java and C++ and Smalltalk environment. And it does not appear that it will take that long to learn how to write useful code; that is important for me.

So I propose to begin learning this language, and from time to time report on my progress. Knowing that at least a few people might be observing may also exert a certain social pressure to press on.

One Response to “Learning Oberon-2”

  1. Terry Ross Says:

    Good luck and have fun. I’ve dabbled in Oberon-2 a bit (I’m a fan of Modula-2), but I’m planning on diving into full bore myself soon.

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