Nowadays, computer programmers need to learn an increasing number of programming languages to satisfy their clients and/or employers. For newcomers in the world of software development, however, the enormous number of options can be frustrating and confusing. So what is the ideal programming language for aspiring developers to start with?
For those of you expecting an unequivocal answer to that question; let me burst that bubble right away. Asking the same question to ten seasoned developers will get you at least eleven different answers. But while every project has its own specific needs, there are some major distinctions that can be helpful when choosing. Popular languages
Everyone is looking for a programming language that is both easy and powerful. A good thing to consider in advance, however, is how sought-after certain language skills are. As far as I know, the most popular languages are .NET and Java (mainly for banks and corporations). Both languages are object-oriented and widely supported. On top of that, Java is used for Android development and .NET is the language of choice for Windows 8.
Modern slang decoded
For people working on their own (online) start-up, a modern language might be a better starting-point. Having used it for five years myself, Python remains one of my favorites: it’s dynamically typed, easy to learn, widely applicable—from web development to data crunching—and opens up tons of possibilities. And Google uses it too.
But don’t worry; there are other options too. Here’s a short overview:
Ruby is a scripting language similar to Python. The introduction of the Ruby on Rails web framework has significantly increased its popularity, making it a favorite amongst start-ups thanks to its wide support, many libraries and fast development.
PHP remains very popular for web development. While not a favorite of mine, it is a powerful scripting language that offers smooth hosting. The WordPress, Joomla and Drupal frameworks are all PHP-based.
Node.js is certainly worth looking at too. Using one language for both front-end and back-end, this software platform for scalable server-side and networking applications offers a lot of possibilities when it comes to interactivity. Node.js is used by, for example, LinkedIn, and is recommended when you’re planning to build highly interactive web applications with lots of real-time updates and integrations to Twitter and Facebook. While not widely used yet in Belgium, I consider myself to be a firm believer of the platform.
At the end of the day, everything depends on what you’re aiming at. So consider your options carefully and pick the one(s) that best suit(s) your particular project. A good place to start learning some of the programming languages mentioned above—free of charge—is Coursera. What are you waiting for?