We all know that the world of programming is booming, thanks to the many practical possibilities that open up in its wake. In addition, there is a lot of demand for programmers in the job market, and as a consequence, learning to program becomes doubly attractive. But if we are just starting and all those convoluted codes turn into a labyrinth, we will probably prefer to back off and leave this feat for another time.
Let’s not fool anyone: programming is no easy task. In this case, you can’t just ask someone to do the code for you, like you asked to write an essay online at school. Even less so if we opt for certain programming languages that are designed to develop large applications, too abstract and theoretical to be understood from a more practical perspective and applied to our day-to-day experience.
But on the other hand, since there is a need for more programmers to specialize, throughout history certain languages have been developed, very little known, that will allow us to take our first steps in a more leisurely way, facilitating the understanding of the basic principles of programming, making the learning curve is not so violent.
Analyzing some programming languages for beginners
Surely we have heard of Java or PHP since in the last decades they have been the most demanded languages in any large company. Java is one of the most famous languages for making both web and desktop applications. Moreover, it was one of the first languages to popularize the famous “Object-Oriented Programming” and this, for engineers, was a revolution and simplified their work.
But far from being easy, Java is one of the most complex languages to understand. Through much evolution, it has managed to establish itself in the market, but at the same time, its complexity imposes a barrier to entry for newcomers.
On the other hand, we have PHP, which is easier to access, and currently fully implements the object-oriented programming methodology like Java, but maintains a higher degree of simplicity. However, it is not a good idea to get started with this language, since its complexity scales quickly, and it is likely that without a good foundation, we will end up making very poor quality programs and acquiring bad practices that will hinder our future development.
Starting from the bottom: the first steps with Scratch
Scratch is a programming language that, a priori, is designed for children. The truth is that technically it is a language that is quite suitable for learning regardless of the age of the beginner. It serves to understand the basics in a sufficiently solid way, to advance adequately.
Its interface is very visual and teaches basic elements in programming, such as conditionals and loops, which are, to a large extent, the essence of any language.
There are other languages such as Blockly, which are based on the same principle of visual programming, but while we program, it shows us the result of our work in the code of another more “professional” programming language. If we understand how the code is created in this way, it can serve as a bridge to leap to more advanced languages.
Python and Ruby: the highest level languages
Most of today’s languages start from C language principles, which are fine for representing programming concepts, but are not easily readable and require many hours of experience. Both PHP and Java have that structured touch that makes them very similar to C. That’s why once we get into one language in-depth, accessing the next one is much easier. A high entry barrier, but with the invaluable advantage that once inside, everything flows better.
This does not happen with two very popular languages currently in demand in the job market: Python and Ruby. The great advantage they have is that they have become so abstract that they have managed to create a language similar to the spoken language.
That is, knowing English, we could understand to a large extent what a Python code does by simply reading it on the screen. And this at the same time also makes it much easier to learn.
In addition, Python is nowadays the most demanded language in the market because thanks to a tremendous community of programmers, very sophisticated libraries have been developed for the treatment of very advanced scenarios, which means that mastering Python in the medium term is a guarantee for the future.