When learning a new computer language, quite often the first example is to create a “Hello, World” type application. “Hello, World” is something we tend to take for granted now, but it wasn’t always the defacto starter example.
Learning a new computer language can be daunting. There are new ways to do things, many details as to how to organize and define your code, ways to package up your code, then to deploy your code to where it needs to go in order to function.
“Hello, World” was first used in an internal memorandum for Bell Labs back in 1974 by Brian Kernighan, and later widely released in his book for the “C Programming Langage” published in 1978. At this time computers were still typically large office machines taking up quite a lot of space, nothing like we have today. Brian Kernighan used this “Hello, World” example as a way to quickly show the basics of program structure and workflow, to get the programmer’s feet wet, and feel like they accomplished something.
So, “Hello, World” is a great start, but the story can’t end there. Learning a new language means you have to buy into its story, how it’s useful for you, what it can do for you, and how it can enable you to help others. When we learn any new language, a big reason why we learn is to help others. To help them communicate, to enable them to do less work, to make things easier.
After this great introduction, we need to keep things moving – and the best way to facilitate this is through story coupled with technical details. So often when learning a new language or API (Application Programming Interface) you are presented with dry stale details. Without a compelling reason to continue past “Hello, World”, a user learning will only do the bare minimum to get by.
If someone is learning your language or API, don’t you want them to dive in deeper. For them to advocate using your product rather than someone else’s? Creating documentation that is compelling, that tells a story, to get your users not only interested, but advocate for it’s usage to their peers – shouldn’t that be your goal?
Story is important.
What are you saying after “Hello, World”?