If you’re new to programming, and you’re wondering which programming language should be your first programming language, you’re probably overwhelmed by all the options available.
And all of them are great languages; it’s tough to pick one without having any constraints or use cases.
Here are just a few language characteristics one might look for in a programming language.
- Performance (how fast can it execute the program)
- Typing support (static, dynamic, strong, etc.)
- Ecosystem (community, libraries, support, etc.)
- Ergonomics (how does it feel to use the language)
- Job market (can you find jobs easily)
There are many more characteristics that could influence your decision to pick up (or not) a programming language.
So what is the best language then?
Important language characteristics
If you’re looking to pick a language to be your first programming language, some characteristics are more important than others.
Here are three things you should be looking for in your first programming language.
- Easy to learn (this is very important)
- Job market (can you find jobs easily? are salaries high enough?)
- Ecosystem (finding help should be easy)
Over time your requirements (or preferences) will change, but when you’re first starting out, it’s essential to continue learning without being distracted.
What I mean by that is you should remove everything that could block your progress.
And that includes unnecessary complexity and too much technical jargon. Because you’re not used to it yet.
You want a programming language that is close to the language you already know (the English language).
That’s how our brains work. We associate new concepts with existing ones. So if everything you learn is new, your brain will have a hard time remembering that new knowledge.
And that is why I think Ruby makes perfect sense as your first programming language.
It shines in all those aspects.
- It’s a language that is close to the English language that you already know.
- It’s got a vibrant and helpful community.
- There is a lot of support material in the form of books, courses, etc.
- The job market is booming as well… with many highly-paid job opportunities.
- It’s similar to most popular programming languages, so it’s easy to learn new languages once you know Ruby.
All in all, there’s no way you can go wrong with picking Ruby as your first programming language.
Here’s what to expect if you pick Ruby
I can tell you from experience that you will have an easier time getting into programming simply because you’ll have an easier time understanding the language.
It won’t get in your way as much compared to other programming languages.
And your goal as a beginner is not necessarily to learn the new language, even though that will happen, but the goal is to learn the concepts and how to think like a computer programmer.
So back to the reason you should pick Ruby.
Ruby helps you learn the concepts by getting out of your way.
It’s the most transparent language for beginners and experienced programmers alike. It will get out of your way, and allow you to absorb the concepts of programming without worrying too much about the language itself.
Learning how to code should be a pleasant experience—one filled with many small wins along the way.