Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

Programming Language Of Choice

30 Jul 2020

In the early 1990s, I attended my “local” university, and majored in Computer Science. The languages that they offered were limited, both by the time and the place. Still, everybody had a language that they chose over all the rest. A “Programming Language of Choice”. Mine has changed over time.

The first language I ever learned was probably the same language most people learned first, at least at that time.

I first learned to code extremely simple scripts in BASIC on a Commodore 64. Really, I just liked creating infinite loops on demo machines in the Kmart and watch the people that worked there try to get out of it.

After that, I learned QBasic. I knew more about it than any other language, and it was the first time I actually learned some actual programming syntax. Most of what I’d learned about BASIC was gotos and print statements. QBasic was the first time I learned loops and variables an all other manner of structures. My computer teacher would probably have preferred I didn’t.

All of this happened before college, and when I starting studying programming with the goal of doing it as a career, I started getting into more serious languages.

The first year CS students at my university all studied Ada. The university said they liked Ada for newbies because it was fairly simple syntactically, but had really good error checking. Since I didn’t have a lot to compare to, Ada quickly became my language of choice.

After the first year CS students move on to C. At the time (and now), C had much more widespread use, and I was excited to get into using it. Again, the flavor of the week became my favorite to use.

During the time I was learning C I also learned a couple others. Fortran and a little Lisp. I even took a semester learning Perl. C was also followed by C++, which was my new favorite.

C++ was an interesting language to learn because I could still use a lot of the syntax from C and have it work. As a result, my “C++ code” was a weird amalgam of C and C++.

After I finished college, I went to work for a small financial company and I needed to learn a proprietary language for my job there. I did not like it. It was not good. I still liked C/C++, but I was doing that less and less. This job was where I was first introduced to bash and ksh shell scripting.

Shell scripting was a revelation to me, despite the fact that I’d previously written Perl code. Honestly, I’ve spent more years coding in these scripting languages than I have in any other language. Bash was probably my language of choice for a lot of years.

Recently, I’ve been learning Python, and it has taken over as my current favorite. I’m still very much an amateur with it, but I’ve been trying to find excuses at work to use it. I’ve converted some of my old ksh scripts over to Python, and I’ve been really enjoying using it.

My language of choice has changed a lot over the years, but for now, that choice is Python. Still, I’m not old enough to think this is the last language I’m going to learn. It’s possible I could revisit some oldies but goodies in the future. I’ve been contemplating seeing if I can dust off the old C/C++ books on my shelf (not really, I’ll definitely go digital now) and see if I want to go back to a compiled language. Who knows what the future brings?

Day 74 of the #100DaysToOffload Series.

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