Choosing a Programming Language

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A good deal of people are fascinated by programming these days and knowing how to code can be a pretty lucrative as careers in programming have boomed over the last few years and pay very well too. But what language do you choose? There are so many programming languages available these days it is often challenging to pick the one which is appropriate for a certain task and that you can learn easily.

A good place to start is by asking oneself, what am I attempting to achieve by trying to learn to programme?

Do you find yourself interested in programming multimedia applications, exited by 3-D games, mobile apps, server-side applications? Or perhaps you are more interested in obtaining a big fat salary?

When you know your main goal, you can then start thinking about the best programming language for your needs. This doesn’t mean that by making use of this criterion you will single out a programming language, but at least you will know that the list has been reduced to a few options.

Let’s pretend that you are interested in learning how to code web-based apps. What should you do next? As always, Google can be your friend. Try your luck by googling “best web programming language” This should give you several good ideas.

Needless to say, such concepts will probably contradict with one another! The input you are receiving is from a person, and people are designed to err, its all part of being human. On the other hand, code is also prone to errors but this is something that with patience, practice and experience you can eliminate.

I also find that reviewing other peoples code helps greatly when trying to figure out something new, plus there are plenty of forums and discussion groups out there which you can view and ask questions on like Stackoverflow, it has a fantastic Q&A section where programmers new and old post questions and answers (often multiple answers) to programming problems, check them out https://stackoverflow.com/questions.

So, what are some of the most popular programming languages?

HMTL and CSS

As a beginner you probably will want to start out with something like HTML and CSS, these are the basis of websites. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is not a programming language in the sense say like PHP, it’s more a building block of how we can display data on a website.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used by HTML to help format the HTML in a way that’s pretty and functional, for instance CSS is used to display the same HTML data on desktop and mobile but it will look completely different on each.

HMTL Code Example

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>Page Title</title>
</head>
<body>

<h1>This is a Heading</h1>
<p>This is a paragraph.</p>

</body>
</html>

Should you decide that building websites are something you want to get into then HTML and CSS are a must. Not only will they help your vision of the website come to life and actually be usable they will help you on your path to a more structured language later on.

A major bonus of these 2 languages is that they are probably the easiest to learn and get started with so it will not take you long to start seeing the fruits of your labour on screen.

JavaScript

If your interests lie in web applications and websites then JavaScript is something you simply must checkout. It slots in with HTML and CSS to enable you to do all kinds of clever and innovative things on your web pages. JavaScript allows you to process data from webpages, validate it and then output the results.

You may have seen sites that can convert values, solve equations, and so on. Those websites were built using HTML and CSS, but the actual converters and equations solvers are almost always built using JavaScript.

JavaScript Code Example

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<body>

<h2>My First JavaScript</h2>

<button type="button"
onclick="document.getElementById('demo').innerHTML = Date()">
Click me to display Date and Time.</button>

<p id="demo"></p>

</body>
</html> 

This programming language is quite old and not surprisingly it can be found almost everywhere. It’s also one that can help you understand and then learn the more complex programming languages.

Javascript is only a few years behind HTML in age so it is quite old and as such is found in almost as many places as HTML. Being around so long also means that there are plenty of examples and communities out there to help you gain more knowledge in using it.

Java

Although Java shares its name with JavaScript they are actually completely different languages! Java is a general-purpose programming class-based object-oriented language which is designed to be able to run on any platform. It can be found in almost any electronic device from your PC to Phones, DVD Players, you may even find it in your Fridge!

Java Code Example

public class MyClass {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    System.out.println("Hello World");
  }
}

However, as you can see from the example above it’s not the easiest language to learn and you would be better off starting with some less complicated, like PHP.

Python

Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. It was first released in 1991, its main design basis is on the ability to read the code being written. It is as many others here object-oriented but unlike others is very easy to read and pick up as you can see from the example below:

x = "awesome"
print("Python is " + x)

PHP

PHP is a very popular web programming language, which is heavily used even by the world’s largest web platforms Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, WordPress to name just a few. It is very easy to learn, very flexible, extremely powerful, open-source and has a massive community from which you can get support. However, as it is so flexible it’s very easy to write bad code in PHP, it also has some inconsistently named functions which to beginners do not make sense. All that said it is a great language and one that I personally use over 95% of the time.

PHP Code Example

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<body>

<?php
echo "My first PHP script!";
?>

</body>
</html>

These are just a few examples, of course. There are literally hundreds of programming languages, and their number may grow in the future. So choose a language that’s easy to learn (one of the examples above may help) and see how it goes.

Don’t forget that besides learning a language’s syntax, you will only learn to code by practising that is, by coding and running various little programs.

Programming isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. You need perseverance, but fortunately, help is available. Find forums where people like you try to learn that programming language, and ask for help whenever you get stuck. You will surely discover friendly people who are eager to help. Good luck!

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