Marcus Battle

How to Choose a Programming Language

Marcus Battle February 9, 2021

Choosing a programming language is probably the hardest task that you'll face when learning to code. The truth is, you will always have some level of anxiety about the decision you make and it's likely that you will learn more languages as you go along.

How do you decide which programming language to get started with?

My answer is to figure out what you want to build.

If you're new to coding and reading this article, there's no doubt in my mind that something caused you to say to yourself "I want to make that!" Maybe you had that moment while playing PS5, scrolling through Netflix, or riding your Peloton. Whenever you had that aha moment, it was triggered by something you enjoyed in real life.

Side note, if you haven't had that aha moment and are here just because you've heard that coding pays well, you might find it challenging to stay focused later. I'm not saying that you can't do it, but from experience, passion for technology helps fuel your creativity better than money will.

If you haven't figured out what you want to build, you might want to revisit this note once that happens. The truth is, any programming language can bring you some amount of money, so money can’t be the only goal to help you decide your language.

I’ve witnessed developers choose a language because of money and wake up one day realizing that they don’t enjoy coding and stop.

What do you want to build?

Fast forward to the day where you no longer fight imposter syndrome and have landed your first role in tech. What are you building? Is it a video game, website, mobile app, or robot? Whatever you want to build will dictate the programming languages to use.

If you want to make iOS apps then you should learn Swift or Objective-C.

If you want to build Android apps, then you should learn Java or Kotlin.

And if you want to build for the Internet, you need a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Once you decide on what you’re making, research (aka Google) what languages were used to build it. It’s that simply complex lol.

How and Why I Chose PHP

I’ve always loved building for the Internet. It makes me excited to see people use websites to transfer information and stay connected. This excitement led me to building my first websites when I was 12. That means that I learned HTML and CSS.

When I began my professional career in college, I was introduced to PHP. It was a language that allowed me to take my web development to another level by allowing me to work with databases.

In short, I’ve tried other languages but PHP is what ecosystem I’ve stayed in as I’ve watched major apps use it to reach the world. WordPress, Slack, and Facebook have all been built with it. It’s estimated that 79% of the websites in the world are powered by PHP. That means 8 out of 10 websites you use probably use PHP.

In short, I am a web developer, so while there are other languages to create web apps and sites, I’ve continued to find a home within PHP and that’s what you can expect to learn from me. Makes a little more sense when you look at it that way? Learning PHP is learning the language of the web.

Can I help you choose?

Let me know what you want to build and I’ll help you pick a language. Again, not what language you should choose, but what you want to build.

You can ask me publicly on Twitter @themarcusbattle or privately at marcus@marcusbattle.com

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