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  1. #1
    Zarah is offline Senior Member
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    Default Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    I have heard that technology changes very fast, so do the languages used to develop it. I am putting in time to learn Java.

    But what if after spending some years learning Java, I find out that Java is not being used any more?

    I know people who are not clear about what an object is but are doing Android programming. They are copy and paste programmers, but they have work, they have jobs. THEY GET THINGS DONE. Compared to that, I don't get anything done.

    So what is the right way to go about it? Learn one language well (and may be learn the surface story of others after that)?

    Or learn how to get things done without fully understanding how the constructs and code one is using works?

  2. #2
    SurfMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    Knowing multiple languages doesn't necessarily mean that you only know half of it or copy/paste your way through them. I know Java quite well. But I am also working in PHP. Knowing Java actually helps me here, because I know OOP very well, which I can apply in PHP to some extent too. I am by no means a guru, but I can read and write PHP code that I encounter, write WordPress/Drupal plugins etc. I am getting my way into the current generation JavaScript/ECMAScript too. I have played around with React, Redux and Ember2 and it connects easily. (ECMAScript has a lot of weird features your eyes have to get used to though)

    It appears Java is here to stay, but they probably said that about Cobol too. I know guys in their 50's who got layed off during a reorganization because the Cobol work had dried up. They did not learn anything new, so the company couldn't move forward with them and it was over.

    Use your Java knowledge to become proficient in more areas like Android, maybe some embedded stuff if that attracts you. Learn a new language, just because you can: Scala, Dart, Go, even a bit of old-school Perl wouldn't hurt. Because in the end, if you understand the principles of programming, it's only the syntax of the language you need to learn. (That's a bit generalised, but I hope you get the point).
    "It's not fixed until you stop calling the problem weird and you understand what was wrong." - gimbal2 2013

  3. #3
    Tolls is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    And there are lots of JVM languages these days as well.
    SurfMan's mentioned Scala, but there's also Groovy and Clojure (speaking of "weird features your eyes have to get used to").
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  4. #4
    Zarah is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    Knowing multiple languages doesn't necessarily mean that you only know half of it or copy/paste your way through them.
    No, I didn't mean that. I am sorry if it came across that way.

    So you mean I should learn Java well AND other languages well too. That sounds so daunting. I can only do one thing right now (and from my pace so far I won't be finishing it soon =( ). I can only either clear my concepts in Java or become a copy/paste programmer. =(

  5. #5
    jim829 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    It has been my experience that once you learn one language, the rest become much easier. Of course, some languages like Lisp and APL have their own obscure syntax which provides a challenge. But most are similiar. If you know how to do something in one language, then you probably have some insight how it might be done in another language. If someone were not familiar with hashmaps then they wouldn't know using associative arrays in Perl (which are the same thing).

    Note that I am talking about the syntax of the language (something that would be in the JLS for Java). The libraries and public API for different languages will be different (with some core similarities). In any event I would never recommend copying and pasting. If you see some code that you want to use then figure out how it works. And document it in your code.

    Regards,
    Jim
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  6. #6
    Tolls is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    Here's a short bit on Quora that goes into slightly more detail.
    Here's a better copy of the diagram that someone links to in the comments section:
    DigiBarn Posters: Mother Tongues of Computer Languages

    It's incomplete as it only goes to 2001, so a lot of the JVM languages aren't on there.
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  7. #7
    JosAH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim829 View Post
    Of course, some languages like Lisp and APL have their own obscure syntax which provides a challenge.
    ahem ... what is obscure about their syntax? Only FORTH has an easier syntax (it doesn't have any)

    kind regards,

    Jos
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  8. #8
    jim829 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    Quote Originally Posted by JosAH View Post
    ahem ... what is obscure about their syntax? Only FORTH has an easier syntax (it doesn't have any)

    Hit a nerve did I? APL is the only language I know where the source code looks like someone tried to print a binary file.
    (and I am not talking about those languages which have only two operators and you basically program in Morse code).
    And Lisp is, well, Lisp.

    Regards,
    Jim
    The JavaTM Tutorials | SSCCE | Java Naming Conventions
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  9. #9
    Norm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    DigiBarn Posters: Mother Tongues of Computer Languages
    I liked the reference to RPG. In one of my earlier jobs I'd often be working on several projects at the same time in different languages: RPG, PL/I, 1401 autocoder and 360 assembly. When switching to RPG, I had to do a reboot and load a totally different way of thinking.
    If you don't understand my response, don't ignore it, ask a question.

  10. #10
    Zarah is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    Note that I am talking about the syntax of the language
    Picking up syntax is not that hard I believe, I wrote a few very simple (the simplest, likes of hello-world) programs in PHP, JS, C++, Python etc. But what worries me is the design. I mean there is a way of doing things and best-practices and subtle implications in different languages, which you learn by reading books and getting hands-on experience with a language right? Unless I understand those things (and have them fully ingrained), I can't apply for jobs. I can't do real work. Because they won't ask me to write a program using for loop in interview, they will present a complex problem and then see how I approach the problem. I can't even reach inside my brain and search for the parts of Java I need to come up with the algorithm, unless I have all (important) parts of Java deeply ingrained in my brain. If you are spending most of your brain power to set information in your brain, you can't manipulate the stored information properly.

    If I go by the 10,000 hours rule, when will I get a job? When will I get established (This might sound irrelevant here, but it is relevant and in the mind of many people, I have heard other beginners talk about these things) What if I spend so many years on one thing, only to find out that it's got outdated (God forbid). Has everyone been doing it since early teens (or even before that)?

    Here's a short bit on Quora that goes into slightly more detail.
    Here's a better copy of the diagram that someone links to in the comments section:
    Thank you very much. I am now convinced that once I am well-versed in Java, it will be easier to learn other languages. I will be able to write better programs in languages similar to Java in design, and it will take time to learn best practices of langauges different in design.

    Thank you for the diagram. I suspect things might be slightly different now (Even Quora is written in Python). I wish there was a way to predict what will be in after 3 to 5 years, I'd learn that.

  11. #11
    Slowmind is offline Member
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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    It's always good to be a true pro in one language, but you also should know basic conceptions of other popular languages in order to understand your team members. But hey! iOS-Android developer as one person? Why not?

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    Default Re: Should one become a Master of one language or a jack of many?

    For my experience I can tell that if you really like and/or seek programming for whatever reason you end up knowing more than just one language even if now your focus is in one specific.

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