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There seems to be one topic in the .NET community that usually gets a lot of responses and can sometimes turn into an ugly debate. It’s the question – which language should I program in?

Some folks choose one language and stick with it. Some are forced to choose two, because their job demands it. Though, no matter how many programming languages one uses though, they usually turn to a tried and try favorite and primarily use this one for their development purposes.

When it comes to .NET languages, I often find the debates over which language is better than another rather silly in nature as the languages interact with the .NET Framework for a lot of their capabilities and there aren’t classes in the framework that are off-limits to specific languages.

I am also a believer in the idea that languages need to change their style, processes and workflows to accommodate to the type of developer that the language serves (this is also being discussed in Keith Pleas’ blog). Programming languages have histories and these histories control these specifics and play a major factor in how the language evolves. Programming languages are there to also serve a specific community of individuals.

When I think of the .NET programming languages, their purposes and their evolutions -  I always find myself comparing it to spoken languages as I do not see much difference in the two. I am an English speaking American (my British friends would argue about the true English aspect though). My wife is Finnish (from Finland) and my kid’s primary language at home is Finnish. There are around 5 million Finnish speakers in the world. …

(playing the antagonist here)

 … HEY, haven’t these Finns heard that English is one of the best languages to speak in the world? The IT industry speaks English! Airline pilots speak English! Why don’t they just give up this Finnish stuff and speak English instead? It certainly would make it easier for us to communicate! And did you know that there are things that you can do in English that you can’t do in Finnish? Example… you can’t speak in the future tense in Finnish! This forces them to clarify the time period when they speak. Finnish also doesn’t have a word for “he” or “she”. There is only a single world – “hän” that covers them both. Did you also know that they don’t have a Finnish word for the English word “fun” (let’s not go there)? I see a lot of negatives here – so why aren’t the Finns all giving up Finnish and speaking English?

(ending my antagonist role here)

… the reason is because they have always spoke Finnish and it is apart of them. It defines who they are. And yes, there are things you can do in English that you can’t do in Finnish – but just the same, there are things you can do in Finnish that you can’t do in English. We have all heard the story that Eskimos have some huge amount of words to define different types of snow – they obviously need that “feature” while us beach-lovin’ folk in America do not.

My point (if you haven’t got it yet) is that languages are different – whether they are spoken languages or programming languages. Their differences may seem large to some – but in the end, people can communicate exactly what they need to. They choose a language based upon their history and their comfort.
You still saying, “But I want to be an ADVANCED programmer, what language should I use”?

Well, I am here to tell you – you can be an ADVANCED programmer no matter which language you use. You want to be like Rocky Lhotka and program great VB applications – then GO FOR IT! You want to be like Juval Löwy and program great C# applications – then GO FOR IT!

Posted on Tuesday, December 2, 2003 8:50 AM Programming Languages | Back to top

Comments on this post: On the Choice of Language

# re: On the Choice of Language
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Shouldn't that have read:
You want to be like Rocky Lhotka and program great VB applications – then GOTO IT!

<ducking, running away>

Also -- read the Finnish comments in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon to your wife sometime ;)

TTFN - Kent
Left by Kent Sharkey on Dec 02, 2003 2:01 PM

# re: On the Choice of Language
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I find your post very interesting. I personally can not wait until programming languages will support other speaking languages like Russian, Finish etc. I had to learn English in order to program for example. So when people complain about learning another programming language I say "Give me a break".

Currently, I use both language and I love them. I still have to practice my writing English though but my VB or C# code just rocks! I also do technical training for major corporations on south east and I see a great trend of companies specializing in C# just because it is so close to Java and they have Java developers in house. Unfortunately, nobody asked VB developers, so they have to acquire a new programming language.

At the end of the day if you want to be Called ADVANCE developer the following is the key:
• Object Orientation knowledge
• OOP Patterns
• Knowledge of Base Classes
One more point for years Francesco Balena showed that VB 6.0 used C++ compiler and that he achieved the same performance with VB. You can buy an airplane and never flight it!

My two cents
Left by Maxim V. Karpov on Dec 02, 2003 6:13 PM

# re: On the Choice of Language
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Thanks for the comments Maxim ... (btw ... I am also a big Russian language fan. I graduated from the U.S. with a Russian degree and from Goryni Institute in St. Petersburg as well.)

The three areas of knowledge that people need to learn that you pointed out are RIGHT ON.
Left by Bill Evjen on Dec 03, 2003 4:38 AM

# re: On the Choice of Language
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Here here! I was thinking about writing something on my blog along a similar vein, but you beat me to it! Now all I'm witing for is for VS.NET to have a built-in "Babblefish" that will seamlessly and transparently (1) translate between C# and VB and (2) allow mixing of both into the same class.
Left by Richard Tallent on Dec 03, 2003 7:33 AM

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