It’s a question that is pondered by most professionals as they embark on a new career as a Programmer and which divides the programming community in opinion. “Which programming language should I learn first?”. The very fact that you are reading this post is very likely because you have the exact same query.
The fact is that there is an array of programming languages out there for you to choose from, which can certainly cause some confusion – especially if you have never worked with code before. To make your task a little easier, take the following considerations into account when weighing up your options:
Factors to consider
Your technological interests
This feeds directly into another important question that you will need to consider: “Why do I want to learn to code?”. What is it that inspired you to become a Programmer? It can very often be the case that a certain technology is impressive enough to pique someone’s interest to the point where they would like to learn more about it. It is always more enjoyable to study a subject that you are genuinely passionate about rather than trudging through just to get it done.
Your career aspirations
You will also need to think about the career path that you would like to follow. Not all Programmers follow the same path and with the array of programming languages out there, it makes sense that certain languages are more applicable to certain technologies and hence, certain programming positions.
There are a range of IT positions that utilise coding, whether on a daily basis or as a smaller part of their duties. These include:
- Computer Programmer
- Software Application Developer
- Web Developer
- Database Administrator
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Software Quality Assurance Engineer
Each of these positions will require a solid understanding of programming even though their roles are very different. Therefore, it is vital that you understand the direction that you want your career to take before deciding on the programming language that you wish to specialise in.
What are your programming resources?
The most obvious and thorough resource that you can utilise is to enrol for a programming course. Here you may even have the option to study multiple languages in a package, such as ITonlinelearning’s New to Programming Bundle.
The Web is always a wealth of information and it is no different with programming. There is a veritable treasure trove of information available in the form of videos, tutorials and forums that can guide you in the right direction.
The first programming language that you choose to learn will also depend on how much experience you have had with coding so far. Languages such as C++, while highly effective, are just more difficult to learn. If you have never had any experience with programming, a good place to start would be a language that is not quite as intricate, such as Python or Ruby on Rails.
Once you have mastered an entry-level language, you will find it much easier to understand and learn one of the more difficult ones, since you will have a fundamental working knowledge of coding. This will also help you reduce the time that you will spend on learning a more advanced language.
An overview of languages
Now, to narrow your choices down even further, let us take a look at each of the more popular and widely used programming languages out there. Each has its pros and cons, some work well with multiple technologies, while others are more exclusive to only a few selected technologies and as mentioned before, some pertain more to certain programming positions than others.
Another object-oriented programming language, Python uses an elegant syntax. This makes the code that you have written easy to read, which makes it easier to get your program working the way that you intended it to. It incorporates various data types including numbers, strings, lists and dictionaries.
Java is another object-oriented programming language that is present in millions of devices across the globe. It is open source and versatile enough that it is able to run on any platform. Java does not need to be executed sequentially, but rather makes it possible for statements to be executed concurrently. Once you enter the world of programming, you will certainly encounter Java very often as it is used so abundantly.
C++ is an extension of the C language, making it possible to code using C++, but utilising a C style of coding. This means that, effectively, it is considered to be a hybrid language. C++ is more difficult to learn than some of the other languages that we have covered here and is not often considered by new Programmers as the first language that they wish to learn.
Considered to be a CLI (Common Language Infrastructure) language, C# is often used in Web development and networking. The syntax is highly expressive but is considered relatively easy to learn, making it a good starting point for aspiring Programmers. C# simplifies many of the more complex features of C++. Visual C# includes an advanced code editor and user interface, making it even easier to utilise.
.Net is a framework that provides programming guidelines in the building of various types of applications across multiple platforms such as Web, mobile, desktop and gaming. It provides the ability to use the Web for an array of services, it is open source and enables you to utilise editor extensions, providing even greater functionality. It is also compatible with various programming languages, including C# and C++.
Ruby on Rails
Another Web application framework, Ruby on Rails provides structures for Web services, Web pages and databases. It is open source and is considered to be a great time-saver, as it consists of an array of libraries that can be used when working on mundane tasks such as building menus, forms or tables. Many Programmers consider Ruby on Rails to be cleaner and easier to troubleshoot than other languages.
Based on the C programming language, Objective-C is a high-level, object-oriented language that has gained popularity for its use in Apple’s OS X and iOS operating systems. Since it is a superset of the C language, any code that is written in C can run in Objective-C. If you have an affinity for apple technologies and applications, Objective-C would be a great starting point.
With so many languages to choose from (we have only listed a few here), your best option would be to whittle them down to a shortlist with consideration given to your current skill level, your career aspirations and the type of Programmer that you aspire to become. Remember that learning an easier language first will make it simpler to master the more complex and involved languages later.
It is highly recommended that you master not only one, but multiple programming languages as your career progresses. This will improve your versatility and enable you to work in multiple programming environments.
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