Learning How To Code: Picking a language

March 11, 2016 | Editor
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We’re running a series on a few tips and tricks that you might find helpful when you learn how to write in code for the first time. Last week we talked about which language you could potentially start learning out of five that we chose for their return on investment, ease of learning and portability. Those languages were Ruby, JavaScript, Java, Python and C. Let’s talk about these languages a bit more so that  the decision of which one you should pick up becomes s little simpler

 

Interpreted Languages:

Languages  like Ruby, JavaScript and Python are much easier to learn because they can  be run as soon as their source code is written. The other batch of languages are known as compiled languages and because of that extra step between  writing and running the language make for slower coding. This has it’s pros and cons. Despite interpreted languages having really flexible syntax they don’t use a computers resources very well. Lets look at each of these languages separately.

Ruby:

Ruby on Rails is used to write website back ends. There is a very high demand for people who know Ruby so it’s very probable that you’ll land a job that pays considerably well without waiting for weeks for an interview call. But Ruby doesn’t come without its share of issues.

Ruby is a language which cant be used for more complex applications because of its slow performance. Also, Ruby’s flexibility is a gift as well as a curse. Many of the processes that are running within the language can be hard to figure out making de-bugging a complete nightmare. But those are the moments where you think of all the money you’ll be making at the end of the month and you’ll be ok.


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JavaScript:

JavaScript is used for web front-ends, as well as back-ends. The advantages of JavaScript is that there is no shortage of demand for people who know this language and these jobs pay really well. There is no language other than JavaScript that can be used for in-browser software. All said and done JavaScript is absolutely essential for every website that hopes to achieve some level of complexity.

The bad news is that if you are starting out then learning JavaScript is definitely more challenging than Python or Ruby. It’s native syntax is also quite intricate which can leave you utterly bewildered when working with large amounts of code.

 

Python:

Python is a language that can be used for web back-ends but it is also used quite a bit in research experiments and academia. Python has a large following  mostly due to its interface which can only be described as beautiful. You don’t have to type a lot and it’s fair to say that Python handles most of the incredibly boring processes itself. The cons are that Python’s design makes for a poor fit in larger applications and you might continuously run into problems.

Compiled Languages

Compiled languages means that a language has to be converted from a human readable format first into a language that the computer can understand i.e machine optimized code. Because of this extra step compiled languages are much more efficient than interpreted languages. The compiler has to go through lines of code and make sure that there are no bugs that might cause issues in future.

Learning a compiled language means that you essentially have to speak the same language your machine is speaking. As a result compiled languages are much harder to learn than interpreted languages and are far more labor-intensive.

Compiled languages are used in applications that have to by nature be reliable and robust. Examples of compiled languages are C and Java.

 

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C:

The king of all languages, you’d be hard-pressed to find an electronic appliance around you that doesn’t have some element of C somewhere inside it. Just some of the areas where C is used are operating systems, robotics, high-end video games and operating systems. If there were a competition in which all high-level langugaes were taking part C would be a front-runner for sure because of its level of performance. Learning C will teach you the most about how a computer operates on a mechanical level. Wouldn’t it be great if C were easy to learn? Yes, C is pretty difficult to master but once you’ve mastered it. Any other language will be like child’s play.

Java:

Java is one of the most popular languages out there. It’s a very defined language so it will force you to think in terms of performance and efficiency. The only issue is that with the advent of so many newer languages Java is a bit of a dinosaur. Java is slipping in popularity because of its label as a language of the past. That doesn’t mean that Java comes without it’s uses. Java can be used in Android development, web development, as well as applications for large-scale enterprises.

Presentational languages:

There are a couple of languages that you will run into on your journey to becoming a coding guru and they are CSS and HTML. They are used in practically every webpage ever made and look like they should be programming languages but aren’t. This is because these two languages deal more with how something should look and have no bearing whatsoever on how something will behave.


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It’s not a bad idea to look into learning these languages as a first step because they are pretty easy to pick up and will give you a nice pre-cursor on how to write in the language you’ve set your heart on. Plus, if you’re going to deal with constructing websites at any point in your life there is no way you wont run into these two.

 

 

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