The best programming language

eWeek magazine published an article titled “10 Programming languages you should learn right now “. You may also find Tiobe statistics useful in making the what-to-learn-next decision (it ‘s sad to see that PowerBuilder is as popular as Algol and PL/1).

I believe that in era of outsourcing, when programmer are treated as a commodities that you can easily purchased by a dozen, learning the business you are in has a higher priority than any specific programming language.

The name of the programming language does not matter as long as you are in top 20% of developers in this language. I ‘m sure, best Cobol programmers never have problems finding jobs.

My logic is simple: most of the programming jobs will be outsourced and not because programmers in India charge less ( in most cases it ‘s not cheaper at all), but because the pool of programmers here in America is shrinking year after year. Enrollment in Computer Science in all US colleges goes down.

Not every programmer is or can become a superstar. Some people write computer programs because it pays better than delivering pizza, painting or acting in Broadway musicals. They come home after work and forget about programming while enjoying other activities (delivering pizzas, painting or acting in Broadway musicals). If you are looking for job security, and can ‘t get into these 20% of the best, learn business you ‘re currently in (finance, telecommunications, entertainment, pharmaceutical, et al). A mediocre programmer with business knowledge will always find a job. This rule does not apply to people that develop general software and work for companies like Yahoo, Google and the like. But usually, people in these companies technically are pretty good anyway. For the reference: main languages at Google are C++, Java and Python.

The other strategy to use is to become one of the best in on of the least popular programming languages. The job market will be very narrow, but there is literally no competition, cause everyone wants to program in cool languages. Back in 1992 I ‘ve been doing SQLWindows from Gupta a.k.a. Centura. Anyone remember this? Certainly not Tiobe. Guess what, I know a lady who works as a Centura contractor charging top dollars. My wife is still a PowerBuilder programmer and her check comes in the mail regularly regardless of what eWeeks or Tiobe writes. Wondering when Cobol will die? Not within the next thirty years: there is no money for the funeral as too many applications are deploed (and work!) in production. So if you are already a Cobol programmer, you might be better off just improving your Cobol and related skills than learning Java. But again, this ‘ll work only if you are capable of getting into these 20% of top Cobol ‘eros.

Recently, I was interviewing Bruce Tate , and he suggested that learning another programming language will help you to become a better programmer in your primary language. I agree, this is a good idea.

Set yourself a goal to learn one additional language each year, and you ‘ll definitely will become a better and more marketable software developer. Which one to learn? Follow me as I have a pretty good nose for what ‘s going to be hot next. Do not trust me? No problemo.


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