A Very Useful Dictionary of Computing

When you learn a new skill it’s import to have a clear understanding of the the vocabulary.

A recent learnprogramming sub-reddit post asked about which terms are important. (That question itself is superb for learning.)

One response mentioned this dictionary of computing terms – the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing Terms. This is a very handy resource to have at your fingertips.


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Intro to Python MiniCourse – First Steps

If you want to become a test automation engineer, you will have to learn how to write software.

If you’ve never programmed before in any language, it’s sometimes hard just to get started. It’s hard to know where to go, what tools to use, or even what language is best to start with.

This is your chance to take those first few steps towards learning how to program.

Python MiniCourse – First Steps

Sign up now for a Into to Python MiniCourse!

For the next 3 days I’ll send you a daily email with a super simple lesson you can complete in less than 5 minutes.

Each lesson will teach you just enough Python to get you started on your journey.


First Steps: Write Your First Python Program in 30 Seconds

If you want to become a test automation engineers but are still thinking about learning how to program you need to get moving.

You need to take the first step. You need to push a little rock that will start an avalanche of momentum.

You are going to write your first program right now.

Go to Python.org and follow along:

This is an embedded Python interpreter. It’s probably not a tool you would use for anything beyond simple experimentation. You have to admit, it’s a very quick way to try your hand at some simple Python programs.

Intro to Python Webinar

If you want to learn become a test automation engineer, or a Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET), you must learn to write software.

Luckily, you can find many great resources online if you want to start learning about programming.

Sometimes the hardest part about starting a new skill is just knowing where to start.

Maybe you’re wondering:

“What’s the best language to learn?”

“Which course should I take?”

“What the fastest way to learn programing?”

Webinar: Becoming a Test Automation Engineer: Python

On Monday, February 12, 2018 at 1pm I’m conducting a webinar Becoming a Test Automation Engineer: Python hosted by Paul Merrill of Beaufort Fairmont.

I’ll talk about why Python is a great language to learn programming. I’ll also show you some simple examples, tips on how to get started, and ways test automation is done in Python.

If you want to become a test automation engineer sign up soon since seating is limited.

Introduction to Programming Course Comparison

There are many courses available to help you learn how to program.

Here is a list of several available online, in no particular order. None of these courses assume you have previous programming experience.

DISCLAIMER: I receive no compensation for these summaries.

Automate the Boring Stuff (Udemy)

Cost: $10 for the Udemy video course if you go through the link at https://automatetheboringstuff.com/, otherwise $50.

Time to Complete: 9.5 hours

Summary: Comprehensive review of Python through video lectures. The author says the video course covers most of the same ground as the book, but the book’s probably a great alternative if you prefer that medium.

Free Programming Basics Course (Ministry of Test)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: a few hours.

Summary: No frills survey of programming concepts and tools. Course material is delivered by web content. There is no feedback or interaction with an instructor.

Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) (Coursera)

Cost: Free 7-day trial, $49/mo after trial ends.

Time to complete: 6 weeks, 2-4 hours/week.

Summary: Long distance entry level college course. Python is the language used to illustrate concepts with videos, web content, and proprietary courseware. Assignments are graded as pass/fail by a auto-grader process.

Programming Foundations with Python (Udacity)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: 6 weeks.

Summary: Self-paced low-level programming course with video instruction, proprietary courseware, discussion forums. Also features quizes and forum interaction for feedback. “Nanodegree” offered for completion of a curriculum group. Favors lecture format with worked examples by the instructor over interactive application of Python by the student.

Master Fundamentals of Programming for Beginners (Udemy)

Cost: $194.00

Time to complete: 13 hours.

Summary: Comprehensive programming course that introduces C and Python. Relies on video lectures and a “Q&A” feature to review and search questions submitted by other students. Little opportunity to write programs and get feedback.

Try Python (Code School)

Cost: $29/mo, but some courses free

Time to complete: 2-3 hours

Summary: Self-paced entry level programming course focused on Python basics. Features videos, slide downloads, proprietary courseware, and an interactive Python emulator.

Learn Python (Code Academy)

Cost: Free, optional upgrades ($19/mo and $199) for access to technical support, more lessons, and additional material.

Time to complete: 10 hours

Summary: Self-paced entry level programming course focused on Python basics. Features web content, proprietary courseware, and an interactive Python emulator.

Ruby in Twenty Minutes (ruby-lang.org)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: 20 minutes

Summary: Very quick “up and running” tutorial. Assumes you have already installed Ruby and are comfortable with the command line. Nothing fancy here – just enough to wet the appetite for the language.

What is Programming? (Khan Academy)

Cost: Free

Time to complete: less than an hour

Summary: Similar to other Kahn Academy lessons, shows you the theory behind programs, and then begins to dig into some Javascript to manipulate images in an interactive emulator. A non-threatening introduction before getting into the deep end of the pool.

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming using Python (Edx/MIT)

Cost: Free. Optional certificate for $49.00, accredited tuition rate of $300. Textbook (available from amazon.com) is not included in the cost.

Time to complete: 9 weeks, 15 hours/week.

Summary: Self-paced college level course featuring introductory computer science concepts. Designed for students not majoring in CS or EE degree programs. Features lectures, interactive assignments, problem sets, and quizes. A certificate of completion is available (see Cost section). Credit hours available for qualified students.


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Reactions to “What’s the best programming language to learn for test automation?”

Previously I wrote what I thought about the best programming language to learn for test automation.

Spoilers: I picked Python.

I posted links to that article on a test automation discussion site. People also posted links to the article on social media.

A couple of reactions on Twitter:

Mark and Brian raise valid counterpoints. Of course, the real answer is always “It depends!”

An expert knows exactly the right tool to select because they have experience to inform that choice. A beginner has almost no experience and their choices are arbitrary.

Sometimes a beginner becomes so overwhelmed by the number of choices, they become paralyzed with indecision. For a beginner, it’s often far more important to get clear direction and get some small victories under their belt. It’s about gaining momentum.

For a beginner, any choice is perfectly fine as long it gets them started. Once a beginner learns one programming language, picking up the next one will be easier.

It’s kind of like the old saying about exercise: “Which exercise is the best? The one you will do.”


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What’s the best programming language to learn for test automation?

People ask this question in other ways, too.

How do you choose a programming language for software testing automation?

Does it matter that I am writing automation code in a different language to that used in development?

How would you rank [insert language here] and what is the most popular language used in building automated frameworks?

In the “real world”, the tool you use to build a test automation tool depends on a lot of things – who are you working with, how much experience do you have with the system under test, is the system a web application or an API, etc.

If you are just starting out then the first thing you must do is to learn how to program.

When you are just starting to learn about programming there are many choices. You are not sure which path is the right path. Everything looks like it is important. You are not sure which way to go or what to do.

You need a clear answer. You need an answer that pushes aside all of the doubt and stress about picking the right thing.

The short answer is: Python.

Python has a lot of advantages for someone learning how to program.

You can write short programs and run them to get quick feedback with Python. Fast feedback means you don’t spend time waiting to see if what you did was right or wrong. You learn and correct mistakes quickly.

Python’s syntax (the rules of how a program is structured) is similar to other programming languages such as Java, and C#. Once you learn the patterns of how a Python program is built, you’ll learn your second language much faster.

Python also enjoys a lot of help for the beginning programmer.

Here are some of the books I recommend:

There are many more out there, but this list should be a good starting point.

Let me know if this was helpful.


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