To to cut a long story short, no.
Well, maybe that’s a little harsh but according to this well written and informative web page learning the python programming language takes 10 minutes. I for one didn’t manage to get to the end of the document in 10 minutes but maybe that’s because I’m just a slow reader. Why do I bring this up? Well, I’ve been learning python.
I’m a programmer by trade so learning another programming language is usually straight-forward; takes a little time but doesn’t pose too many problems. So as python seems to be an essential language to know I set about learning it.
Python is renowned for being a language that can easily be picked up. It is strongly typed although not statically typed (see the wikipedia entry for python) and is loved by may for its rapid prototyping. Many of the projects that I’m interested in use python and my Linux distribution of choice, Ubuntu, uses it extensively so it was only natural that if I wanted to contribute back to these projects I had better get learning.
So within an hour I was up and running writing code, albeit simple stuff. Within a couple of days I was pretty confident with it and today, not long after picking up the language, I have my own branch of the excellent media center application Entertainer in Launchpad and my first rather large patch has been submitted to the mailing list.
So my conclusion is that no, python can’t be learnt in 10 minutes but it can be learnt quickly. Contributing to open source projects needn’t bring with it a long and step learning curve. A few spare days and a desire to improve software that you are interested in is all it takes.
Go on, fix something today!