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Beginning Perl for Bioinformatics by James Tisdall

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Edit—Run—Revise (and Save)

The most important thing about programming is that it's a hands-on learning activity such as dancing, playing music, cooking, or some other family-oriented activity. You can read about it, but you can't actually do it until you actually do it.

While learning to program in Perl, you need to read about how Perl works, as you will in the chapters that follow. You also need to look at plenty of examples of programs. But you especially need to attempt to write your own programs, as you are asked to do in the exercises at the end of the later chapters. Only this kind of direct experience will make you a programmer.

So I want to give you an overview of the most important tasks involved in writing programs, to help you approach your first programs with a clearer idea of what's really involved.

What exactly will you be doing at the computer? The bulk of a programmer's work involves the steps of writing or revising a program in an editor, then running the program and watching how it behaves, and on the basis of that behavior going back and revising the program again. A typical programmer spends more than half of his or her time editing the program.

Saves and Backups

Once you have even a few lines of code written, it's important to save it. In fact, you should always remember to save a version of your program at regular intervals during editing, so if you make a bunch of edits and the computer crashes, you don't lose hours of work. Also, make sure you back up your work ...

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