When it comes to programming languages, developers often feel a deep connection to one language over another. Maybe it was the first one that they learned, or one that they just really ‘clicked’ with. As a beginner, or even towards the middle of your career, trying to understand which programming language will work best for you is a challenge. There are so many options, and each language seems to have as many enthusiastic champions as it does disparaging critics.
Ultimately, whatever programming language you pick, it should be something that works for you and your skills. The best tool is only as good as the person using it. If you work hard and master one language, it’s going to be much more useful for you than several different languages that you’ve only studied for a few hours.
The programming language that you choose should ultimately match the projects that you’re working on. If you’re a visual person, maybe you’d gravitate to Python because of all the visual content like video games and graphic user interfaces that you can create with it. If you prefer to focus on the nuts and bolts of the software and operating systems that power our technology, C might be the choice for you.
When you’re first starting out, it’s also important to consider some additional factors. How saturated is the marketplace right now for developers with that skill? How many resources are available for people looking to learn that language? Is it generally considered a scalable language? All of these factors are important, especially if you want to consider programming as a potential future career.
Today, we’ll give you a quick run-down of some of the programming languages we’ve used in the past, and what we’ve been able to do with them.
PHP was primarily designed as a scripting language for web development, but it’s been used for a lot of general programming as well. It’s a pretty easy language to learn, which can be a double-edged sword. This ease for beginners can result in some poorly-constructed code that has given the language a bad name. PHP has many tools, which is a great thing for someone who knows how to use them, but this can really work against you when you don’t know what you’re doing.
In the right hands, PHP is a beautiful, eloquent, well-built language supported by a large and very active community. There are many PHP developers available, so you’ll never feel limited by the pool of talent available.
Right now, there are many companies that have built their platforms on PHP, including Facebook, Baidu, Etsy, and Wikipedia. There are some people that believe that PHP isn’t scalable, but one look at the massive, global companies who have built their systems off it will convince you otherwise. We think that there’s not much you can’t do with PHP.
Another programming language that we’ve had some experience with is Ruby. It’s a great language to start with when you’re first learning to code, although in the long term many of us have found it less scalable. It’s a great general-purpose programming language, and there are tons of resources out there for people who are first starting out. Right now, the community isn’t as large as the PHP or Python community, but it’s definitely growing.
There are two downsides that people often bring up when speaking about Ruby. The first one is that it has a slower runtime speed than other languages. The other is that there aren’t as many advanced resources available, because the community is still growing. Right now, Amazon and Shopify are two of the biggest employers of Ruby developers, and it’s also been used to build sites like Groupon and Airbnb.
A truly powerful and flexible programming language, C# has huge potential that’s really only limited by the developer’s imagination. It can be used for a variety of applications as well as software. If you want to learn a language that you know will serve as a base for working with other languages like Java, C++, and even PHP, C# is a great place to start. It has a reputation for beautiful projects. For people who are energetic and creative, it can support any idea that you may have.
However, it does come with a very steep learning curve. If you don’t understand the basics of programming already, you will likely find this a very hard language to learn. If you do manage to achieve mastery, there’s a robust job market out there for C# developers.
The three languages that we’ve mentioned today- PHP, Ruby, and C#- are just some of the many programming languages out there that you can learn. It’s up to you to decide which is the best fit for your skills, ability, and interests.
Start by reading up on the various languages out there. For simplicity’s sake, stick to researching the top 10 or 20. See what they’ve been used for, and be sure to check what kind of resources are available for beginners. If you know anyone in this field, this would be a great time to reach out to them to ask for a chat over coffee. Someone who is already in this business will have a great sense of not only what’s feasible to learn, but what is the most useful, and rewarding for a future career.
When the time comes to commit to a language, you should pick a language that you enjoy, and that you can see yourself enjoying and being challenged by for years. There’s never going to be a shortage of work in this field, no matter which of the major languages you choose. Ultimately, it’s your passion and determination, rather than the particular language you choose, which will have the biggest impact on your future success.