What Programming Language Should I Learn First? 2017 Edition

What Programming Langauge Should I Learn First?
Javascript just may be the best choice for new developers.

From the casually curious, to the seriously motivated, “What Programming Language Should I Learn First?” is the most common question I get. For years I gave a nuanced answer. “Well, that depends on what you want to do…”

That answer has changed.

My answer, once complex, is now simple. If you are a beginner, learning to code for the first time, there is a singular language you should learn.

That language is Javascript.

Why Javascript?

There was a time when “real” programmers were down on Javacript

“It’s not strongly typed,” they’d complain, “Learn a REAL programming language.”

Times have very much changed and Javascript has matured and been legitimized in the minds of many developers. If you’re just starting out in the world of development, you absolutely, 100% should learn the Javascript programming language. Here’s why:

Javascript is easy to Learn

First, believe it or not, Javascript is one of the easier languages to learn. It doesn’t require you to use strongly type variables like C++ or Java. It doesn’t require memory management or garbage collection like C based languages. Javascript also doesn’t require an understanding of Object Oriented Programming to use, like many modern programming languages do.

There’s a wealth of formal options and informal, free options for learning Javascript code. For a free option check out W3 Schools Javascript tutorial. It’s a great starting place to learn the basics. For a comprehensive formal option for learning Javascript basics you can view LearnToProgram’s own Javascript Specialist designation course.

Another reason I recommend Javascript so highly to new developers is that you can see results of your work immediately. Nothing is more satisfying to new developers than seeing their code run. Without a bothersome compilation process, Javascript developers can test their code immediately in a web browser. Who doesn’t like immediate gratification?

Javascript is free and accessible

Another reason Javascript is the answer to “What Programming Language Should I Learn First,” is that it’s free to use and it’s accessible to all. There’s no specialized development environment or software development kit that needs to be downloaded, configured and installed. This allows new developers to get started immediately, without spending time and money getting things correctly configured.

It’s easy to forget that not everyone has tremendous resources to invest in equipment and software. Because all Javascript requires is the browser and text editor that comes with the computer, it provides an extremely economical way to get started for new developers.

Growth of Javascript

There’s no question that the sheer numbers of developers using Javascript has grown tremendously over the last five years. The reason for this growth is interesting as well. Javascript has grown not just because more developers are choosing it, but the number of domains for its use has multiplied as well. Put simply, Javascript’s utility has increased. When Javascript was first introduced, it was a language used to create interaction on web sites. Now, however, Javascript is a language that is used to create mobile apps, web site back ends (using NodeJS) and even as a scripting language for games.

This flexibility also makes it very rewarding to learn Javascript, as, there are many things you can do with it as a new developer fairly quickly. There is no other language that you can learn and make complex web based apps and full mobile apps as well.

Opportunities for Javascript Developers

Last year Mashable famously stated, “To be a star programmer, learn Javascript and move to Utah.” While the necessity of moving to Utah is arguable, the need for Javascript developers is not up for debate.

Javascript jobs are numerous in NYC according to Indeed.com
In the New York City area alone there are over 3,500 jobs that required Javascript as a primary skill.

It’s important to remember that not every Javascript job is listed as requiring “vanilla” Javascript. Most jobs are listed requiring one of the many popular Javascript frameworks or libraries in use today. Popular Javascript frameworks include AngularJS which allows you to more easily build enterprise level Javascript applications. jQuery is a popular Javascript library which essentially introduces a short hand for Javascript while providing a number of convenience commands.

What Programming Language Should I Learn? Javascript. Start Now.

Javascript is not the only language you’ll need, however, it might be the most important for you to learn as you start your development career. As you consider options, I hope you’ll check out our Designated Javascript Specialist certification program to learn this most important language.

1 Comment

  1. I have to disagree, JavaScript is easy to start off in but once you start programming more complicated apps, you have to know how JavaScript works inside and out. You have to understand prototypical inheritance and how the keyword, this is scoped. You need to understand how to bind the this keyword, work in an OO paradigm or a functional paradigm. Basically, you need to understand the internals of JavaScript to build complex applications with it. Sure, validating forms and creating tightly coupled code is easy, it’s not so easy to build complex single page applications using JavaScript and one of the many libraries and frameworks out there.

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