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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 Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
11/13/2015 | 2:19:14 PM
Re: Top 10 Programming Languages
From my personal experience, I was introduce to C++ I really had a hard time understanding programming. I have tried Python later on in my career, I really learned to enjoy it, the syntax was easy for me to understand.  There are many good tutorials out there as well. 
TedR411
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TedR411,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/13/2015 | 12:50:07 PM
Don't leave SQL off the list
Good post. Brings together the historical view of languages with a view of the most common languages used today.

The language I don't see mentioned is SQL. SQL really needs to be on the top 10 list. Along with SQL, developers also need to have a solid understanding of the database they are working on (Oracle, SQL Server, etc) to understand query optimization, triggers, DB connections, commit processing, etc. Too many programmers don't understand the underlying database and the apps suffer significantly because of it.

My flash from the past is a shoutout to Borland's Turbo Pascal. The first IDE which revolutionized programming on PCs.

 
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2015 | 1:18:17 PM
Re: Top 10 Programming Languages
@nmouradian, interesting you and @onnicorp have exactly the same writing style and both talk about this UNIX tool I've never heard of in my 30 year career. This wouldn't be an attempt at getting free advertising, would it? You aren't talking to a bunch of idiots on this thread.

If you are legit, what exactly makes FilePro any better than, say, MS Access and VBA?
damean
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damean,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/12/2015 | 12:17:54 PM
Re: And JavaScript
TerryB ... Would disagree with your statement "I would argue Javascript does not count because it is client side only". Javascript on the Serverside has RE-gained (It does starts as both server & client) a pretty wide acceptance in the corporate world lately; especially since the rollout of Google's V8 (JavaScript Engine; Eqv to Java' JVM)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_server-side_JavaScript_solutions

 
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2015 | 1:37:24 AM
Re: Top 10 Programming Languages
In addition to programming language, working with different system is also important: embedded OS, Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Realtime OS - each one will give you a different (and deeper and deepr) view of computer software/hardware.
nmouradian113
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nmouradian113,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2015 | 10:39:10 PM
Re: "The Haskell Road to Logic, Maths and Programming"
You know, when I was starting to program, they wanted a strong math background.

After years of coding application software for businesses, the toughest math I've had to do has been currency conversion or tax calculation. I never understood why they always pressed the math. You do need to have good logic and a good understanding of what is happening to the data.

In todays world of VM servers, everything, including the OS is just a datafile you can minipulate.

A lot of people I work with seem to have a problem understanding "THE DATA" whether it's a database, or a program, it's all data, and it can all be manipulated, if you understand the logic of what is happening.

Now, my cousin, who works on phone systems, is in a NUMBERS world. he even compiles C programs manually to fully optimize the code and the timing. How many of you every really need to crunch numbers to the point where you can say you need a very strong math background?

Just my opinion that they overstress MATH for Programming.
nmouradian113
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nmouradian113,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/11/2015 | 10:22:46 PM
Re: Top 10 Programming Languages
I know most of you never even heard of filePro from fptech.com.

If you want to learn programming, without all the heavy lifting, (coding screens, reports and processes)

download the free trial of filepro and spend 1 hour with it.

In that time, a beginner will learn about files, fields, creating screens and report and if you want to write something simple like an address book, you can write the whole thing in under 5 minutes once you spend the hour learning the basics of filePro and minipulating data.

I don't think there is any other language or database that you can make that statement with.

BTW, filePro is written in C so it runs native on all the linus.unix servers.

you can play with the Windows version, but the WOW comes in when you run 40 or 50 users on single server, with 4 GB of memory and it just flies!

Java not going anywhere, with AJAX, for the WEB to DATABASE connection. Love It!

Same for C++, everything Linus/Unix loves C.

So, I would teach on filePro, so novices can grasp the concepts of data, files, fields, etc.

Then move on to the the tougher languages. Need to start somewhere, I cant think of anything easier.

If you don't believe me, take a few minutes, check out their site fptech.com and try it for yourself.

I personally don't believe anything I have not tried myself. so I put you all to the chalange to give it a try and let me know what you think.

If you do, I promise you will thank me and hate me at the same time, because you will still have to code with your current tools, for weeks on a project, and you will know you can do it in filePro in just a few hours.

Let me know!
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.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
11/11/2015 | 1:31:51 PM
Re: Top 10 Programming Languages
@onnikcorp, I think your list gives a lot of insight into the problem with UNIX, it takes a lot of stuff to get anything done. Please don't take that as bashing UNIX, it is a fine o/s, especially when compared to Windows. It's just UNIX does not come with integrated tools, other than it's shell language. That's why so many people using UNIX are running Oracle or MySQL for database, plus a large variety of programming languages. You have to.

My career has been in the IBM world, mainframes and what used to be called the AS400. Those platforms have integrated relational databases and native programming languages (including SQL) to build applications with. I do agree that browser apps take more, you must learn client side tools like HTML/javascript.

Only my personal opinion but the best thing I see going today are the javascript platforms like jQuery and Extjs which, combined with CSS, create HTML5 code on the fly for your client side. I personally use Extjs and Touch from Sencha, which acts like a high level language. Think COBOL/FORTRAN versus coding Assembler, that is the difference in coding Extjs versus javascript. With both Extjs and jQuery, you use AJAX calls to server to get data returned as either JSON, XML or a SQL result set. That can be any type of server and whatever server language you want to use to get data from your database. That's the space PHP lives in, although I personally still use RPG on my IBM i5 server.

RPG has changed radically from it's beginnings, hardly qualifies as same language it used to be. If you looked at RPG Free now, looks more like C than old RPG. But RPG is IBM specific, certainly not recommending that as a starter language for learning programming.
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