Learning Programming Languages: How to Make the Right Choice

QArea Expert by QArea Expert on February 24, 2014

Learning Programming Languages: How to Make the Right Choice
Reading Time: 2 minutes

With the existing variety of programming languages many developers get confused by the necessity to choose a new language to learn.

First of all, let’s consider the current statistics. Research shows that the most popular languages this year are Java, PHP, Objective-C, Java for Android, SQL, JavaScript, Ruby, C#, Python and C++. However the language’s popularity does not necessarily mean it’s perfect for you.

To know how to decide better, consider the following guidelines.

1. If you are a working developer

If you’ve already mastered a couple of languages, the choice is much simpler: pick something of intellectual or financial interest personally for you. Programming skills are usually transferable and their learning curve is shallower while learning some new language than while starting it for the first time.

There may be also some obvious opportunities including the following:

  • Since ActionScript is ECMAScript-based (implemented as JavaScript in browsers), Flash developers therefore will logically progress toward HTML5 technologies.
  • Java, Objective-C, C++, PHP and C# are conceptually similar and let you switch between them rather easy.
  • You can apply your .NET knowledge to working with Microsoft web server platforms if you have experience of writing Windows desktop applications with VisualStudio.

Despite this, you shouldn’t be afraid of learning something new. There is a resemblance between Java, C-like languages and JavaScript, but they take some initial efforts to struggle with because of their fundamental difference. JavaScript has much to offer, but you need perseverance to appreciate it gradually.

2. If you are a new developer

At the web’s dawn you could learn HTML and Perl perhaps and further gain incremental skills with HTML evolution and introduction of JavaScript, PHP, CSS, ASP and .NET. In 2014 now the choice for new developers is rather bewildering.

Tentatively, you can start with JavaScript. This language is available anywhere, offers almost unlimited online resources and is growing rapidly. Learning JavaScript first will also let you avoid some confusion experienced by those moving from other languages. The only hesitation is likely the hostility when you learn it in the browser environment. Learning JavaScript may require additional knowledge like client-server architecture, CSS, HTML, cross-browser quirks etc.

Alternatively, you can consider Ruby or Python that are rather quick for learning and less complicated by environmental issues and legacy. However, they provide fewer resources and are different from C-powered syntaxes which may actually be an ultimate goal for you.

In the end, if nothing else, you can identify and solve the problem with software tools that you have. Perhaps, you are writing some expenses calculation macro using spreadsheets or automating tasks with Autohotkey. That knowledge can provide you with the impetus you need to progress to better and bigger programming tasks.