Free Pascal on Hanselminutes!

Hey, they mentioned Free Pascal on Hanselminutes! Part of a fascinating interview with Ariya Hidayat, the author of PhantomJS among other things.

I used Pascal in my CS-101 class, some thirty-mumble years ago. I’ve often said, I think it’s a really good language for that. For practical reasons, it lost out to C in industry. But for teaching, I think it’s perfect. CS-101 classes eventually replaced Pascal with C++. I think that was a mistake. Not because I think C++ is a bad language, but because I think it’s not as good for the things we want to teach in CS-101. Later, CS-101 classes replaced C++ with Java. I think that was an even bigger mistake. If you took CS-101 in Java, you probably have to go back and learn all sorts of things. In any case, I think it’s misguided to try to use the trendiest language in industry to teach CS-101. We’re not training people to be software engineers, we’re teaching them computer science. It’s the concepts, not the particulars. It’s not important that it be done in the language that currently has a lot of job openings. If we do it right, students will have no trouble switching to another language.

Anyway, on my Xubuntu machine, installing Free Pascal was just a matter of

sudo apt install fp-compiler

And away we go! Here’s “hello world”…

program Hello;
begin
  writeln ('Hello, World!')
end.

We can compile it…

pc hello.p

…and run it

$ ./hello
Hello, World!

As I said, I think Pascal is still perfect for teaching, but I don’t think about it for writing GUIs and such. It was nice to hear that Free Pascal has a few tricks up its sleeve!

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Free Pascal on Hanselminutes!