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Alex Gwartney
Alex Gwartney

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what programming language should you learn?

If you are a beginner trying to break into web-like me. Choosing a programming language for web development can be a confusing topic full of several rabbit holes so where should you get started!

Well, let's get into it!

So before I dive into this topic I first want to go into how I first got into web development back in 2012, when flash was still king and Javascript was getting more and more popular. And word press ran the internet.

While I never really pushed hard enough to get into web at this time, choosing a path was so much more simple. There was not the flood of new frameworks and libraries being produced on a daily basis like we see today. There was also not this war between which javascript stack you should choose. Or if you should become a front-end or back-end developer and which language and stack are the best for learning which. The list goes on, in short times were much more simple.

After a long pause and deciding what I wanted to do out of high school back in 2012 I fell off the web development field and decided to give it a real shot in 2015. And when I did it was like looking into a massive sea full of new language frameworks and libraries. And in this I just sort of jumped into the most popular thing that was going on at that time. Which was the MEAN stack.

And so from there, I got started I spent several months hacking away at awful projects and trying to keep up with the on the onslaught of updates that came with this stack. And after a while, it never really led to anything but burn out on my end. So I went a different route once again, to later find that I really do like programming more than anything. But I couldn't stand the stack that I was in.

This leads me to my first main point I wanted to discuss. When you are first starting out you are going to see so many videos like TOP programming languages to learn in 2021. Or why the blank stack is the best for getting a job. And so many other discussions and topics on the internet about the newest and greatest thing. And while it's good to know what is out there and on the so-called bleeding edge of tech.

Do not just choose it because everyone else is doing it. This is where I made my mistake, and why I failed the first time around at becoming a successful web developer. I tried to stay in something that was just not clicking and did not have the time to spend to keep up with everything that was changing.

What you really want to do in my honest opinion is choose something that after working with it for a while, you can feel confident enough in it to build and teach just about anything you want with it. Now with this I also know there is advice out there stating oh but choose what the market wants in your area. While this is also solid advice, with jobs being remote nowadays and not everyone living in a massive area with a lot of businesses ect like me.

Why should you pigeon yourself to what one small part of a market is using? When you can apply to just about anything out there! The idea is to get your first job and get the experience. Not trying to become the next engineer to work on the Mars rocket.

That comes with time. Now over time and once you get experience in a language you are comfortable with, this is when I would say branch into what is popular. Spend the time to make it comfortable for you, this way if you decide to swap. You again can become confident in it and make your projects really show this.

Now another thing you also want to take into factor with all of this. Is when learning a language that is the most popular new one on the block. Like javascript, you are also going to be competing with every single boot camp Septuagint and college grad out there. That did something I did and that just chose what is the most popular because so many people are driving the hype behind it. So keep in mind what the overall competition as far as who is learning what rather than what company is using what.

So with all of this in mind, what language should you really learn? Well, I personally chose PHP, now this is not to say you should to. As there are so many other great languages out there, for the web, such as ruby, C#, Javascript, ect the list can go on and on. But from a beginner like me to the beginner's like you, here is why I chose this.

Number 1 it has been around the block for a while and has had time to mature as a language. There is a lot fewer people wanting to learn it, and companies are still out there using it and its still has a big market. Meaningless beginners and other boot camps out there that I would have to compete with on top of people already in the industry.

Number 2 would be the learning curve for the stack is much easier, and much easier to choose from. There are still quite a few frameworks for PHP, and ways of using it. However, in comparison to javascript, it's night and day. As with PHP a lot of the frameworks are a one-stop-shop and don't require you to use a front end and backend framework to make a project. Making it much easier to learn and in less time.

Lastly, I chose this because of learning SQL and the ease of use it provides. Now if you have never used SQL or no the difference when you hear things such as no SQL graph QL ect. Do some research to see what you like. I again personally like the structure that comes with it and the ease of use to quickly spin up a project.
So in the end while I can tell you here are the top blank languages in 2021, I want you to personally go outlook at the languages sees the resources out there for them.

Look at the frameworks and the documentation and other resources associated with them. And really think to yourself, is this something I can see myself using in x months to x years? And really run with it for a few months, like a test drive of a car. Don't do what I did and dump months and months into one language just to find out you hate it and want to start over.

While Im happy where iam now and my own path. I regret spending so much wasted time that could have been spent test-driving the language. And giving myself a yes or no answer. And with this advice, I hope I can help you make your own decisions on which path you want to take!

And lastly, I do hope that whatever language you choose, you all end up happy with your choice!

Discussion (2)

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michaelcurrin profile image
Michael Currin

Yes agree about not committing to a language before you wrote in any code in it.

Watch some videos. Do beginner tutorial for an hour or whatever and write some lines in the language. Get a feel for what the language is like.

And balance opinions from multiple sources on what the best or popular choice is to learn.

A language is a tool and often they are interchangeable to build the same thing but some languages will have a more natural and easy use for certain tasks

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aaron profile image
Aaron McCollum

This is great, thanks for writing Alex!