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  1. #1
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    Which programming language could I get work in?

    I'm in the UK and I worked as a computer programmer years ago until the computer went bust and I was made redundant. Problem is the programming language was very obscure so now I need to learn something else. I did a course a very long time ago in C not C++ though). I tried doing a course in Java but I couldn't get my head around the object oriented part of it, and I've been told that C++ is like that too, or possibly even more complicated. So my question is, is there a programming language I could learn (I'm pretty sure no-one uses C) which hasn't got the complications of Java and C++, and which I might actually be able to use in a work situation? Visual Basic or something maybe?

  • #2
    Regular Coder Aradon's Avatar
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    While I disagree that C isn't used anymore (I can think of a couple companies off the top of my head that use it), there are several niche programming languages that some companies use. Some examples:

    Lisp. While a highly annoying language to program in for those use to the syntax of C++, C, and Java, this language doesn't have a lot of really good programmers, but there are a lot of Lisp Software Systems out there that need maintaining or better yet, writing. There are a couple companies that write using this software, but I'm unsure of the UK presence.

    Ada. Ada is used, mostly, for mission critical software. The number one cruise missile contractor to the United States uses Ada in order to ensure that it's software works and works in the way you want it to. I'm unsure what NASA uses, but if it isn't some flare of Ada, then it's their own custom language I suspect (If NASA is using C++ or Java we should probably just scrap the project now ;O )

    And of course there are all the legacy programming languages still floating around. I've had a few people in my C++ course that I TA tell me they are coming from companies that still use FORTRAN and things of that sort.

    Are you going to get away from OO? Probably not. While some people are starting to push some more procedural ideas, most companies recognize the power of OO and thusly want to use it.

    (As an ending note, both Ada and Lisp have OO capabilities.... )
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  • #3
    Senior Coder TheShaner's Avatar
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    Which language did you used to program in? We could at least derive a little more about your skills and experience if we knew what kind of programming environment you came from.

    As for which languages are used out there, you would be surprised how much C is still used. It's still a very popular language, so don't rule it out.

    I would really suggest attempting to learn object-oriented programming. Most high-level languages deal in OO and really, once you begin to understand it, the concept isn't all that difficult and implementation becomes much more natural.

    As for other languages that are used, .NET programming has a good chunk of jobs out there due to Microsoft's dominance. If you would like to get into web applications and programming, PHP is the most popular, followed by others like ASP.NET, Java, Ruby on Rails, Coldfusion, Perl, and Python.

    This all really boils down to what areas you want to get into also - desktop apps, web apps, OS frameworks, system software, etc. From there, you would want to learn the languages that are popular in their respective areas.

    Edit: As Aradon pointed out, Fortran and Ada are still used, though not nearly as much. You mostly find them used in larger, older companies or the military as they are the slowest in catching up to modern times. I work for a DoD contractor and when I talk to the guys working in simulation, they all mention the legacy software still being used. Languages like LISP and Prologue are most popular in programs dealing with artificial intelligence as they are more adept at creating and maintaining associations.


    -Shane
    Last edited by TheShaner; 09-05-2007 at 02:23 PM.

  • #4
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    Well the programming language I used was called Today. Basically it involved processes and functions (lists of commands) and screens. The process would run a particular application (sales order processing or something), and call up screens which were made up of different fields. Each field would have a process attached to it which would run when text/numbers were entered, direction buttons pressed or whatever. I was sent on a short course when I first joined the company and didn't understand much at all, but then I just learnt it all from the manual when I got back, so teaching myself is something I can do. I actually quite enjoyed using it as a language, I like the visual side as well as the coding side. As far as OO goes, I remember thinking that it wasn't taught very well, so I suppose it might be worth having a look at again.

  • #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aradon View Post
    I'm unsure what NASA uses, but if it isn't some flare of Ada, then it's their own custom language I suspect (If NASA is using C++ or Java we should probably just scrap the project now ;O )
    Depends on which code you're talking about - NASA has a massive amount of equipment that all needs programming, some really mission critical, some not quite as critical. Everything in launch system and in the space shuttles is written in a really ancient LISP dialect. (We're talking pre-AI LISP here.) NASA has what is probably the oldest still running LISP software, some of it running on equally old hardware. (If it's really missions critical, and it took over 30 years for the software to reach the current status, then it's a bad idea replacing the hardware running it without REALLY strong integrity checking of the new hardware system.)
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  • #6
    Supreme Overlord Spookster's Avatar
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    The last company I worked for up until this year migrated from Fortran to C. The company I work for now migrated from Ada to C. C is in use alot more than you think.
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  • #7
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    Yeah? Good to know! Maybe I'll brush up on my C skills then...

  • #8
    Senior Coder rnd me's Avatar
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    i cannot believe nobody mentioned javascript.
    It a simple object-oriented language with a c-syntax core.
    It has 21st century features like closures.
    It supports higher-order functions.
    It also has an awesome, unique, and powerful feature: prototype inheritance!

    From where i am sitting it is shaping up to be the dominate programming language of the near future.

    It is used in browsers, which about every computer has.
    But it also power PDFs, photoshop, widgets, shell-scripting, sony vegas, open office, google docs, flash, and oh yeah, the iPhone.

    You may have noticed many computing applications moving online.
    I doubt that will stop anytime soon. Furthermore, i don't see any competitors anywhere on the horizon...

    but that's just my $0.02...
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  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by liorean View Post
    Depends on which code you're talking about - NASA has a massive amount of equipment that all needs programming, some really mission critical, some not quite as critical. Everything in launch system and in the space shuttles is written in a really ancient LISP dialect. (We're talking pre-AI LISP here.) NASA has what is probably the oldest still running LISP software, some of it running on equally old hardware. (If it's really missions critical, and it took over 30 years for the software to reach the current status, then it's a bad idea replacing the hardware running it without REALLY strong integrity checking of the new hardware system.)
    I know the Mariner 1's onboard computer used FORTRAN. Famously one of the most disastrous bugs ever (something along the lines of a . was used rather than a , so it flew too far off course and was destroyed for safety).. but.. that was in 1962

    I suspect nobody mentioned Javascript for several reasons. I don't think specialised Javascript programmer is even a job. It may just be expected of you in certain fields but you would also need to know something more significant. Scripting in real applications today is usually done in either python or lua and Javascript is used mainly on websites just to add a bit of sparkle (ignoring AJAX which involves knowledge of much more than just Javascript).

    Also I'm pretty sure (though I have no statistics to back this up) that php isn't the most popular language for web applications as TheShaner suggested it was. This is mainly based on the fact that I rarely see commercial companies use php, it seems to be mainly (although I'm by no means saying completely) individuals.

    As far as I know the most commonly used languages right now (ignoring ASM) are most likely C++, C, C# and Java (probably in that order, though it is quite hard to tell). That being said, the more obscure ones sometimes pay better for lack of skilled programmers.

    You should definitely get your head around object orientation. It's not as complicated as it first seems and opens up a lot of possibilities.

  • #10
    Super Moderator Inigoesdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghell View Post
    Also I'm pretty sure (though I have no statistics to back this up) that php isn't the most popular language for web applications as TheShaner suggested it was. This is mainly based on the fact that I rarely see commercial companies use php, it seems to be mainly (although I'm by no means saying completely) individuals.
    While you may be correct about it not being the most popular, I see it used quite often. Yahoo for instance bases most of their site(s) off of it. And then theres Zend

    But if anyone has stats I would be interested in seeing them.

  • #11
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    Well it's all good..I've been out of the programming business for a long time :P

  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnd me View Post
    i cannot believe nobody mentioned javascript.

    From where i am sitting it is shaping up to be the dominate programming language of the near future.

    It is used in browsers, which about every computer has.

    You may have noticed many computing applications moving online.
    I doubt that will stop anytime soon. Furthermore, i don't see any competitors anywhere on the horizon...
    Quote Originally Posted by ghell View Post
    I suspect nobody mentioned Javascript for several reasons. I don't think specialised Javascript programmer is even a job. It may just be expected of you in certain fields but you would also need to know something more significant. Scripting in real applications today is usually done in either python or lua and Javascript is used mainly on websites just to add a bit of sparkle (ignoring AJAX which involves knowledge of much more than just Javascript).

    Also I'm pretty sure (though I have no statistics to back this up) that php isn't the most popular language for web applications as TheShaner suggested it was. This is mainly based on the fact that I rarely see commercial companies use php, it seems to be mainly (although I'm by no means saying completely) individuals.
    -Steve Yegge: The Next Big Language
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    - Steve confirms that the NBL he's talking about is JavaScript 2/ECMAScript 4: Steve Yegge: How to Ignore Marketing and Become Irrelevant in Two Easy Steps (last minute or so)
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