I often see the ‘mine is the bestest* of all’ fights about which programming language is superior to which. This is my statement in these fights.
*pun intended

Languages I wrote in

The first program I ever wrote was a ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’-like game in console written in Pascal. During my studies I was programming in tons of programming languages starting with Assembler, through C/C++, Java, Lisp etc.,but the one that I truly liked was C# so I begun my professional career as a C# developer. Still, from time to time I do put my hands on new languages, just to taste them and see how they work and feel like.

The one I have tried most recently was Python and I am completely astounded by its verbosity. First of all, I was a bit skeptical of interpreted languages. Up until not so long ago, I thought that a language that has no stiff construction, such as defined entry point (main function) or statically typed variables will be hard to work with. And then Python happened.

At the beginning, Python was quite uncommon for me of course. It lacked the braces and stiff program structure. Modules in place of namespaces or assemblies – I am still not sure which are closer to Python’s modules – were a bit misleading, not to mention spaces or tabs in the role of code blocks. Yet, after just 2 weeks of learning it, in one week I wrote a program that in C# took me about a month of work. It was an app that simulated voting process based on political views in 5 categories on a galaxy scale with millions of voters and 5 parties they could vote for. And although it was not as fast as the one written in C#, it was enough to finish the calculations in reasonable time. The next think I did, was a simple implementation of a blockchain-like messaging algorithm, which took me about 40 lines of Python code. The only code I wrote, was the actual ‘meat’ of the project. There was no need to define namespaces, access modifiers, types for variables (which in Python are inferred from variable usage) or to write braces. I sat down and wrote just the code I wanted to try. Now, thanks to learning Python and at the cost of code processing performance, writing a proof of concept or a prototype app is a matter of hours instead of days or weeks for me.

Learning every new language teaches me, that a programming language is just a tool. We should use programming languages just like a carpenter uses his tools. Selecting the right one, be it a chisel or a saw, for the task he is about to perform. Also, we do not always have to use the best, the fastest or the most compact solution we can find. Sometimes it is enough to use the one which is easier to write but slower in performance. For example, if you write a messenger for 20 people, most probably, you do not need to serve millions requests per second. That means, that you can choose a language in which the programs work slower but are easier to write.

Dear reader

If you are about to write a real-time system, then choose a compiled, low-level language such as C or C++. If you are writing an app that has to integrate with different third party APIs, you should probably go for Java or C#. For prototyping or scripting I would recommend Python.

Just stay open-minded and remember, that every language was created for a specific set of tasks with different design decisions taken. Learn new languages. Compare them. Use them. Be like the carpenter. Know your toolset. Keep expanding it. Select proper tools for any given task and respect the ones that you are not using right now. One day you may find them to better fit your specific need.

And please, do not join the ranks of ‘my programming language is better than yours’-developers.


Image: Part of ‘Battle of Oroi-Jalatu’, public domain

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