Choosing your language

By | July 15, 2006

When you start developing, whether it is for internet or not, one of the first choices you will have to make is which programming language to use. I’ve been around for a while now and every now and then the following question pops up on the forums I visit:

“I’ve been playing with scripting (JScript / VBScript) a little and I would like to begin with something more challenging. Which language should I start in?”

It seems that people love to get started in VBScript, guess that has to do with it being included in just about every Microsoft product. But once your done playing around with this somewhat basic programming language it is time for the big works. Unfortunately every one you talk to will tell you something different. Some will tell you to start with VisualBasic or C# others will refer you to C++. But all these self claimed experts cannot give you one advice how are the newbies to pick the right language.

Now before continuing please know that what I will advice is not perfect and everybody likes something else to get started or has a different goal. But I think it to be a good place to start and I hope it will help you along.

Picking your goal
Before you are ready to choose a programming language you must first set a goal for yourself. Do you want to develop websites or is your interest more in the creation of tools and desktop software. If you are going to develop for the web then C, VisualBasic and other languages like that will be less of an obvious choice. However if it is desktop software you want to create then these languages are perfect.

Advancing on established knowledge
A second thing you should keep in mind is the knowledge you already have, which may be more then you think! If you have been programming in VBScript so far then VisualBasic (desktop) or ASP (web) may be the best choice for you. If you are already familiar with JavaScript then C++/C# (desktop) or JAVA/JSP/PHP (web) will fit your needs.

Problem is that there are still several languages to pick from at this stage. So what now? Well it depends on what you like. If you want to pick up a language quickly and build small yet somewhat advanced tools then the .Net languages are what you need. Quickly taught and easy to build good applications. If you’re in for the long howl then C++ or JAVA is what you will like.

Chosen my style and language now what?
Now comes the difficult part. You will need to buy some books or find some very good tutorials on the internet. With these reading materials you can slowly start learning the language you picked. In this don’t shy away from trying out what you learn straight away. I’ve found that the best learning ground is the computer and your programming language.

External source:
CodeProject, source for some tutorials and tons of half finished objects
 – Visual Studio Express, programming environment for C++, C#, VisualBasic (FREE)

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