Learning new skills takes time – that’s why, before learning something, you need to know that what you’re learning is going to be worthwhile. This is particularly true when deciding which programming language to learn.
As we approach the new year, it’s a good time to reflect on our top learning priorities for 2019. But which programming should you learn in 2019?
We’ve put together a list of the top programming languages to learn in the new year – as well as reasons you should learn them, and some suggestions for how you can get started. This will help you take steps to expand your skill set in 2019 in the way that’s right for you.
Python has been a growing programming language for some time and it shows no signs of disappearing. There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest is the irresistible allure of artificial intelligence. Once you know Python, performing some relatively sophisticated deep learning tasks becomes relatively easy, not least because of the impressive ecosystem of tools that surround it, like TensorFlow.
But Python’s importance isn’t just about machine learning. It’s flexibility means it has a diverse range of applications. If you’re a full-stack developer, for example, you might find Python useful for developing backend services and APIs; equally, if you’re in security or SRE, Python can be useful for automating aspects of your infrastructure to keep things secure and reliable.
Put simply, Python is a useful addition to your skill set.
Learn Python in 2019 if…
- You’re new to software development
- You want to try your hand at machine learning
- You want to write automation scripts
Go isn’t quite as popular as Python, but it is growing rapidly. And its fans are incredibly vocal about why they love it: it’s incredibly simple, yet also amazingly powerful.
The reason for this is its creation: it was initially developed by Google that wanted a programming language that could handle the complexity of the systems they were developing, without adding to complexity in terms of knowledge and workflows.
Combining the best aspects of functional and object oriented programming, as well as featuring a valuable set of in-built development tools, the language is likely to only go from strength to strength over the next 12 months.
Learn Go in 2019 if…
- You’re a backend or full-stack developer looking to increase your language knowledge
- You’re working in ops or SRE
- Looking for an alternative to Python
- RustIn Stack Overflow’s 2018 developer survey Rust was revealed to be the best loved language among the developers using it. 80% of respondents said they loved using it or wanted to use it.Now, while Rust lacks the simplicity of Go and Python, it does do what it sets out to do very well – systems programming that’s fast, efficient, and secure.In fact, developers like to debate the merits of Rust and Go – it seems they occupy the minds of very similar developers. However, while they do have some similarities, there are key differences that should make it easier to decide which one you learn.At a basic level, Rust is better for lower level programming, while Go will allow you to get things done quickly. Rust does have a lot of rules, all of which will help you develop incredibly performant applications, but this does mean it has a steeper learning curve than something like Go. Ultimately it will depend on what you want to use the language for and how much time you have to learn something new.Learn Rust in 2019 if…
- You want to know why Rust developers love it so much
- You do systems programming
- You have a bit of time to tackle its learning curve
- You’re a Java or C# developer looking to expand their horizons
Scala has been around for some time, but its performance gains over Java have seen it growing in popularity in recent years. It isn’t the easiest language to learn – in comparison with other Java-related languages, like Kotlin, which haven’t strayed far from its originator,Scala is almost an attempt to rewrite the rule book.
It’s a good multi-purpose programming language that brings together functional programming principles and the object oriented principles you find in Java. It’s also designed for concurrency, giving you a scale of power that just isn’t possible.
The one drawback of Scala is that it doesn’t have the consistency in its ecosystem in the way that, say, Java does. This does mean, however, that Scala expertise can be really valuable if you have the time to dedicate time to really getting to know the language.
Learn Scala in 2019 if…
- You’re looking for an alternative to Java that’s more scalable and handles concurrency much better
- You’re working with big data
Swift started life as a replacement for Objective-C for iOS developers. While it’s still primarily used by those in the Apple development community, there are some signs thatSwift could expand beyond its beginnings to become a language of choice for server and systems programming.
The core development team have consistently demonstrated they have a sense of purpose is building a language fit for the future, with versions 3 and 4 both showing significant signs of evolution.
Fast, relatively easy to learn, and secure, not only has Swift managed to deliver on its brief to offer a better alternative to Objective-C, it also looks well-suited to many of the challenges programmers will be facing in the years to come.
Learn Swift in 2019 if…
- You want to build apps for Apple products
- You’re interested in a new way to write server code
It makes sense for Kotlin to follow Swift. The parallels between the two are notable; it might be crude, but you could say that Kotlin is to Java what Swift is to Objective-C.
There are, of course, some who feel that the comparison isn’t favorable, with accusations that one language is merely copying the other, but perhaps the similarities shouldn’t really be that surprising – they’re both trying to do the same things: provide a better alternative to what already exists.
Regardless of the debates, Kotlin is a particularly compelling language if you’re a Java developer. It works extremely well, for example, with Spring Boot to develop web services. Certainly as monolithic Java applications shift into microservices, Kotlin is only going to become more popular.
Learn Kotlin in 2019 if…
- You’re a Java developer that wants to build better apps, faster
- You want to see what all the fuss is about from the Android community
Most of the languages on this list are pretty new, but I’m going to finish with a classic that refuses to go away.
C has a reputation for being complicated and hard to learn, but it remains relevant because you can find it in so much of the software we take for granted. It’s the backbone of our operating systems, and used in everyday objects that have software embedded in them.
Together, this means C is a language worth learning because it gives you an insight into how software actually works on machines. In a world where abstraction and accessibility rules the software landscape, getting beneath everything can be extremely valuable.
Learn C in 2019 if…
You’re looking for a new challenge
You want to gain a deeper understanding of how software works on your machine
You’re interested in developing embedded systems and virtual reality projects
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