In a blog post this month, Richard Dale (the man behind Qt/KDE’s Smoke bindings) eloquently phrased a noble goal,

“In the 1980s there were lots of computer magazines that used to publish programming articles with BASIC code, that everyone could input and run on their own computers. However, in the 1990s such large scale end user computer programming pretty much died out - tweaking the odd web page isn’t quite the same thing. One of the assumptions that the Free Software movement makes is that every user is also a programmer of some sort, who is able to tweak the software on their computers. I hope we can get back to that spirit, and change the way that people think about KDE programming, because at the moment there is a tendency to think it is hard and that only the ‘C++ gods’ like David Faure or Thiago Macieira can do it. In fact it is pretty easy to write small Python and Ruby apps and plasmoids, or to write a little script to message an app over DBus. We just need to get communities of like minded people together who write tutorials on TechBase, create blog entries with code (like the 1980s BASIC articles), and help beginners get started. These ubiquitous end user programming environments in Kubuntu (and other distributions I hope) will make it possible to do that.”

This really sums up something that would be fantastic to see over the next few years. There’s so many gadget lovers and technology geeks out there - the type of people who would’ve probably punched those BASIC tutorials into a Commodore 64, an Amstrad CPC464 or ZX Spectrum back in the good old days - that feel left behind as they perceive professional programmers to have blazed ahead a path that cannot be caught. But in many ways nothing could be further from the truth. For any programmer, there’s always some guy or gal that’s coding something more challenging or doing cleverer(er) stuff on the next machine. It’s all relative. And since software turned into a mainstream industry over the last couple of decades, it’s been the programmers doing the simplest tasks that have made the megabucks whilst the hardcore wizards of machine code and assembly have seen their demand dimish.

So next time you think there’s no point in picking up a few programming skills give a language like Ruby or Python a shot. Hopefully, with the continuing progress of Kubuntu and other distro’s to make programming more accessible, you’ll have the perfect environment to do so!