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11/8/2015
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10 Top Programming Languages For Learning To Code

Everyone wants to learn how to code, but what is the best entry point? Here are 10 top ways to check "programming" off your skills life-list.
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(Image: OpenClipartVectors via Pixabay)

(Image: OpenClipartVectors via Pixabay)

It seems that everyone wants to learn how to write computer code these days. No matter what field or profession a person works in, the ability to make a computer (or mobile device) dance to your tune seems part of the basic skill set. The question is, how does a person take the first step toward gaining those skills?

Once upon a time the path was simple: BASIC was where most people started before moving into Fortran or COBOL (depending on whether they were heading toward scientific or business programming). Now, though, there are far more options and rather less clarity.

If you want to know how to get started (or give advice to others), then you have a number of options. Choosing the best means looking at what you ultimately want to do, what you like to do now, and how you best learn new skills.

[See 10 Fascinating Facts About Apple's Swift Programming Language.]

Do you like to see things move at your command? Do you want to handle physical-world input and output? Is there a database at the center of your application dreams? Do you live your life on the Web? Depending on how you answer each of these, there could be a different "best" language for your foray into application development. The nice thing is that, once you've taken the first step, the second step is much easier regardless of the direction it takes you.

Did you use one of these languages to learn programming? Would you recommend one of these to someone who came to you for advice? I'd love to know the answer -- and to know about any good options I might have missed. I'll look forward to seeing you in the comments -- no advanced programming necessary!

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications ... View Full Bio

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Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/11/2015 | 5:49:42 PM
Re: Quite Different From the Old Days
@DDURBIN1, your progression of languages looks a lot like mine (though I left COBOL until later in the process.) And your question about longevity is a good one. I suspect that C++ and Java will still be hanging around, though I suspect that more and more interactions with the computer will involve "building blocks" rather than lines of code. Unless you're doing stuff that seriously stresses the hardware (or are tasked with doing things on a system level) the machines have gotten fast enough to gracefully deal with the inefficiencies of a more remote approach.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/11/2015 | 5:44:42 PM
Re: Top 10 Programming Languages
@biggsy, your comment gets straight to one of the biggest philosophical questions in the whole "learning to code" discussion: Should the initial coding education focus on "programming basics" like logic, numerical analysis, and process control; or should it emphasize the working of the computer itself (with the OS thrown in for good measure)?

I came down on the former side, though I'm willing to be convinced that I'm wrong. If I'm going to teach someone about the hardware I'm probably going to dive right into assembler, though I'm almost certainly going to choose a relatively simple processor. In retrospect, IBM's BAL was a dream language for that purpose.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/10/2015 | 6:41:48 PM
Re: And JavaScript
@Somdude8, JavaScript was #11 on my list. I thought hard about including it, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it even though I agree with all the points you made. I should probably do another list of scripting languages still being used out in the real world: REXX, anyone?
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
11/9/2015 | 7:15:27 PM
Java: Strongly versus loosely typed
One of the biggest differences between Java and some of the more modern scripting languages is that Java is strongly typed. Variables need to be of a defined type to be accepted by the Java program, which limits the mischief that can be done through the program. Some scripting languages are loosely typed and have a more open door to tampering.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/9/2015 | 9:45:30 AM
Quite Different From the Old Days
First language I learned, BASIC followed by COBOL, Pascal, Fortran, APL,  RPG and lastly PowerBuilder.  I wonder if these 10 posted here will still be around in another 20 or 30 years. 
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