Article courtesy of Curtis Franklin Jr. at Informationweek.

It seems that everyone wants to learn how to write computer code these days. No matter what field or profession a person works in, the ability to make a computer (or mobile device) dance to your tune seems part of the basic skill set. The question is, how does a person take the first step toward gaining those skills?

Once upon a time the path was simple: BASIC was where most people started before moving into Fortran or COBOL (depending on whether they were heading toward scientific or business programming). Now, though, there are far more options and rather less clarity.

If you want to know how to get started (or give advice to others), then you have a number of options. Choosing the best means looking at what you ultimately want to do, what you like to do now, and how you best learn new skills.

[See 10 Fascinating Facts About Apple’s Swift Programming Language.]

Do you like to see things move at your command? Do you want to handle physical-world input and output? Is there a database at the center of your application dreams? Do you live your life on the Web? Depending on how you answer each of these, there could be a different “best” language for your foray into application development. The nice thing is that, once you’ve taken the first step, the second step is much easier regardless of the direction it takes you.

Did you use one of these languages to learn programming? Would you recommend one of these to someone who came to you for advice? I’d love to know the answer — and to know about any good options I might have missed. I’ll look forward to seeing you in the comments — no advanced programming necessary!


Java is the language Python passed in order to become the most popular language for teaching programming at the university level. What is it that made Java so popular? There are a couple of things that work in the caffeinated language’s favor.

First, Java is a language in the mainstream of development, which means that it doesn’t use lots of odd syntax and unique symbols to get things done. If you learn how to program in Java, you can transfer your knowledge to most of the other popular enterprise development languages.

Next, Java is a popular language in enterprise development. In terms of use, most measures put it right up there with C++ on the corporate-use scale, so it’s entirely possible that you could learn Java and become employable on that basis alone. It’s not the simplest to learn, but since it might be the only one you need to learn, the overall time commitment could make sense if programming as a new career path is your plan.

Interested in reading more? Check out the original article over at Informationweek.