Brief reflections on programming languages I have worked with during my career

03 Feb · by Tim Kamanin · 5 min read

I've played and worked with multiple programming languages over my 15-year long career in development (and a bit before, when I studied at school and university). Every language I touched left a piece of knowledge or a feeling in me.

So I decided to remember them all and try to capture my impressions in a sentence or two. It would be fun to come back to these notes in a few years.

Here are my short thoughts on every programming language I've encountered (as of February 3rd, 2020).

Basic

It was a fun and hard ride at the same time. I was 10 - 11 back then. Computers were ancient, a teacher was boring, and I couldn't even understand what a boolean is. But I remember a goto though.

Pascal

The only thing I remember about it is that I wrote more Pascal in an exercise book and on a whiteboard than with a computer.

Delphi

I'm finally writing some Pascal using a computer! And you can even drag'n'drop buttons and modals and write onClick calls. Neat! But at that time it was useless...

C++

I think you could build a temple of Bjarne Stroustrup's C++ books. My brain hurts; my eyes are on fire! Aargh, I don't want to be a programmer.

HTML

This is not a programming language rather a markup language, but you can build pages with it (did you forget about that? ;) I started slowly with the mighty Dreamweaver. Built a few static HTML pages. And yes, hosted them on Geocities! Today I think it's one of the best inventions of humanity. You can't find a better way to define graphical interfaces via code. Period!

PHP

It is the first programming language I really grasped. The beginnings were humble: I was trying to hack a commerce plugin for Mambo (Joomla today, anyone remembers it?) and then found out about Drupal 5.

Thank you for being more kind to me than C++ and helping me to start a career in programming. Today I don't see many reasons using it other than working with Laravel, which, IMO, is the last good thing about PHP. Sadly.

CSS

A mess. And it's not a programming language at all! ...a few years later... Wow, it's so bright and powerful! It's definitely a programming language!

I'm truly amazed by how things evolved in CSS. I remember how I hated designers for drawing rounded corners because I had to combine four pngs to code a rounded box. And floats, they were uncontrollable.

Today, we have flexbox, grid, rounded corners, shadows, animations, transitions, and what's not! CSS is the greatest thing in web dev after HTML. Again, period!

Java

I briefly touched it when I wanted to dive into Android dev years ago. And can't say much about it other than I'm not a big fan of XML and writing interfaces for every cough. Not my jam at all.

Ruby

So hip, so slick, so clever. Ruby on Rails, which in many circles is a synonym to Ruby, taught me how to keep things simple and embrace innovation. I just wish Ruby was faster and less memory hungry.

Python

Being unsatisfied with Rails' performance and breaking changes, I started to look elsewhere and found Python. If I remember right, it was in 2012, and I stumbled upon Django.

At first, I was worried about all this Python 2 to Python 3 transition, but I'm glad I was not scared that much. In the end, 2 to 3 transition was handled pretty smoothly by the community, and what we have today is a delightful language to work.

And Django, I don't know any other web dev framework that is so fast to build projects with. And believe me, I've been looking a lot (out of curiosity). Ruby on Rails comes closest, but still, it's not Django.

Nothing can beat Django's deprecation policy and backward compatibility. Heck, you can find a Django module today that hasn't been updated in years, and it will work with the latest Django version after minimal (if at all) changes. Try to beat that!

I wish Python were as fast as C, and we could run it a browser. That would be heaven to me!

Swift

It swiftly came in, and it's gone as swiftly. I just can't do native mobile dev; I love the web so much! But I'll always remember that this is where I saw the let word for the first time. It was years before JavaScript adopted it.

JavaScript

For me, it has all started with jQuery. I remember how ugly JS was and how beautiful it has become!

It's still improving year after year, and I dream about times when you can open up a text editor and code your frontend without a single babel/transpiler/compiler/createwhateverapp dance. Just pure modern JS without foreplay!

Go

I tried to love it, I wanted to like it, really hard, I like the performance and the deployment story, but to me, it's ugly, so ugly that I couldn't do it...

Elixir

It's so slick, so clever, you can think of it as the fast Ruby! A very refreshing language with lots of exciting ideas! I hope one day it'll become famous so I could use you it in client projects! As of now, I'm just playing with it.

So these are my thoughts on programming languages I've played and worked with. You might agree with some or you might not. Let me know about your experiences. I'm curious. Follow me on Twitter @timonweb and have a great day!

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