Would you like to become a software developer? Would you like to be a programmer? You have heard it so many times, it is certain, but do you really want to do it? What are the advantages, how easy is it and is it worth it? Well, sit back and enjoy the answers below to undestand how to choose a programming language.
What to consider?
The choice of the right programming language is an interesting technical topic. However, there are several factors to consider. Many people do not even consider this question since the choice is not really made by them but by their school or by their company. When we study computer science we have courses in several programming languages which allows us to have a first idea of how each programming language looks. Depending on the courses and school projects, a student may get more familiar with a specific language than other ones.
If we remove the school procedure and consider someone who has not studied in a university or just wants to become a developer, there are several things we have to consider.
Choosing the right technology
In the past, there were the full-stack developers, but lately, with the shift in software architecture, there has been a separation between front-end and back-end; this separation allows a better specialization and efficiency for the developer. This should be taken into account for someone that wants to start coding since the back-end development is more related to what happens behind the scene (communication with the database and its processing) while the front-end is about the pages and interface that the end-user will see and interact with.
When we decide to follow a career path in Information Technology, the programming language is not the only thing we have to consider. There are many technologies that go with a language, an ecosystem as it is called. The ecosystem can bring a different level of difficulty to familiarise with and it has to be considered. So one thing is the difficulty of the language and its ecosystem, how fast you could be productive with it.
Another thing to think about is the popularity, as written below. Popularity brings more job openings and a higher possibility of you signing a contract.
How popular is the language?
A good way to gauge the popularity of a programming language is to use Google Trends. It is easy to see below that people have been more in interested in Python than in Java recently. In Google Trends we have the possibility to compare several languages accross different countries, or even worldwide. This gives us a better picture about what is happening trend-wise.
What if you have studied Computer Science?
Engineering schools, Universities and other types of schools related to computer science and software development include programming language courses among others. In that case, things are different, maybe easier. If in your school, the teacher/professor of C++ was great or you participated in a very interesting assignment which had to be developed in Java, you may have gained more skills and feel more comfortable with this specific programming language. Then, when you finish school and you are asking yourself, “Alright, now what?”, you will probably look for a job opening for the language you have more experience with.
If your school is up to date teaching recent programming languages that are popular in companies, this is a good method to go. However, some schools still teach languages like Fortran or Turbo Pascal; if you stick to these languages, it will be hard for you to find a job since these languages are not used anymore. Only companies with legacy systems still look for developers with these skills. This is not what you want to go for.
What will I do in the future?
An important thing to consider when you want to choose a programming language is what you will do in the future.
- Stick to the same programming language I know?
- Be the developer that learns a new language at the flick of a switch?
- Go the manager route?
- Turn to Product Definition?
This list above is not exhaustive but it gives an idea of possible career paths for a developer. Here what we would like to focus on is the first two bullets. If you want to stick to the same programming language for a long time, probably all your career, it is worth it. You can reach the expert level, a skill that is well paid and recognized in the software development world. Companies need these kind of people. This person could be you. In that case, you should pay attention to choose the right one in the beginning.
On the other hand, if you are the type of developer who likes to learn new languages often, there is an advantage too; you will be flexible and able to compare the technology stacks. It will give you a better picture of the programming world. You will be able to join the new exciting startup which has their back-end written in a new language no one knows about.
How to choose a programming language may be hard for the beginner but you may not even need to take this decision if you have already worked on it for whatever reason. It is a good practice to lean towards the popular languages to be able to find a job more easily but also answers to your issues from a big community of developers. Whatever it is you have to choose or even change later but you have to take action. Sit back and code!
If you need more insight about software development topics and career, you may check other articles on this website here.