Choosing A Programming Language

As technology becomes more and more mainstream, there is more younger people wanting to learn how to program. The fundamental question that always gets asked: What language do I learn? There is no simple answer to it. However, if you happen to post this question on a forum, you may get some good advice, some bad advice, or scolded by the elite.

Now, this is not a good start for those who want to learn. So, why is it such a hard question in the first place? From my point of view, it is a matter of circumstance. When I learned my first language, I did not have the Internet at my disposal. So, my choices were dependent on the amount of information that I had available at the time. My first language was assembler. But, it was not for the x86. You see, my first computer was an Atari 800XL, which used a MOS 6502 processor. Although BASIC was built-in, I chose an assembler cartridge that was available at the time. Since my access to information was limited, my choices for learning a programming language was also limited.

Today, information is available instantaneously. When you type in ‘programming’ in your favorite search engine, you would get flooded with a sea of programming languages that every person in the world has a comment about. The plain fact is that people are touting their experiences without considering the person who is asking. So, when I get this question asked to me, I normally respond with a series of questions back.

One of the most important questions that I asked is very direct: What do you want to program? This usually catches people off guard from my experience. However, it is a very concise question that will dictate the path on which the wanna-be programmer will take. With many options out there, choosing the best language can be daunting. My best advice is to use any language that accomplishes your goal: to create something important to you. Research all of the options. Some languages are better than others for your task, but don’t worry about choosing the best do-all language first. Pick any modern language to get your feet wet, you will soon discover whether the language you picked is the right one for you.

2 Responses to “Choosing A Programming Language”

  1. 1 Neil Dickson October 9, 2007 at 2:32 am

    Good points and good advice. There are a number of factors in choosing a language that it’d be nice if they weren’t an issue (e.g. how good the IDEs for it are, how good the frameworks for it are, how compatible is it with other languages, etc) and I’ve got some ideas on tackling pieces of those issues, but it takes a lot of time to make headway with such large problems. 🙂

  2. 2 shine87 January 5, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I have just started my bachelors in software engineering,Thank you for this post.You have definitely given me something to think about! 🙂

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