As the geek sits down to learn a new programming language or new programming platform, the first thing he or she must do is learn to make a program that successfully prints the words “Hello, world!” to the screen.
The main significance of this first minor feat as it relates to the programmer is not epistemological, technical, or temporal, but psychological. Crossing the — shall we call it the “Hello world” threshold? — brings with it the realization of the existence of a universe of infinite possibilities. But also the burden and intolerable vertigo that comes with that sense of unlimited freedom.
For, alas, there is no standard “second program” for the geek aspirant to sit down to write. The programmer is on her own. Of the potentially infinite paths that lie in front of her, which will she choose?
Actually though, the most common second program chosen with pedagogical motives in mind — I would submit — would be that venerated bouncing ball, colored
0xFF0000. If you come from a Flash background, you probably know of it well.
Here’s mine, on the Android platform- (Sure wish I could’ve used Flash 10.1… ;)