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Caffeinated Coder A Grande, Triple Shot, Non-Fat Core Dump by Russell Ball

I'm a little bit tired today because I stayed up late the last couple of nights working my way through the Boo Primer on codehaus. I think I first heard about this relatively young (2003), open source .NET language through various posts by Ayende and Hanselman. I was intrigued by the some of the adjectives that I commonly heard in relation to this language such as 'beautiful' and 'wrist-friendly', so I incorporated learning Boo into my 6 Month Roadmap to becoming a better developer. If nothing else, I just really like looking at the project's stellar green ghost logo that reminds me of a Pac-Man ghost and makes me smile every time I load up the project home page.

Since Boo is built upon the Common Language Infrastructure, it is really not that much of a stretch for .NET developer to start using it, especially since the majority of programming in .NET these days involves using the base class library which is accessible from any CLI language. You'll be even more comfortable with Boo if you've ever played around with Python. Although Boo is officially described as a mixture of Python, C#, and Ruby, the extremely bare bones syntax (hence the adjective ‘wrist-friendly’) most closely resembles Python.

Probably the easiest way to get started with Boo is to install SharpDevelop, an open source IDE for .NET. Have no fear; this is not like the typical multi-hour Visual Studio installation process. Despite being very close in functionality to Visual Studio, it only takes a few minutes to install. In fact, due to its incredibly quick start up time, I think I'm going to use this environment for quick proof of concept code instead of Visual Studio from now on. It has built-in support for Boo, so all you have to do to get a hello world running in Boo is create a new Boo console project and hit f5. Then you can get all the debugging goodness that you’re used to when working with VB.Net or C#.

If you prefer the command line, however, you can get up and running even quicker by downloading the compiler (booc.exe) and associated dll's from the project homepage and setting your machine's environmental path variable to the Boo bin directory. It comes with a nifty command line utility called Booish that provides real time execution environment so that you can test boo syntax without having to compile code first.

I haven't had a chance to make up my mind on the aesthetics yet, but it was very nice to have such an easy time getting started and it has definitely been very refreshing to learn something completely new without any expectation that I will somehow use it at work. I think it put a little more fun back into programming.

Posted on Tuesday, August 7, 2007 1:14 PM Technical Overviews | Back to top

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