Original question from Quora:

What are the best programming languages to learn today?

My Answer:

There is no best programming language to learn in the same way that there is no best kind of hammer to learn how to use.

If you want to learn a language, look at what you want to build and then ask what you need to learn to build it.

When I was learning to code twenty years ago, I wanted to make video games. I saw C programming books in the bookstore, so I bought Teach Yourself C in 21 days and learned C.

After a couple years of building simple little programs that didn’t do much, I found the Allegro game library and built some simple games like Pong and Tetris.

That was in the 90’s and there weren’t really web apps like there are today. At least not to most people’s awareness.

In 2002, I learned PHP and MySQL because I wanted to build web apps and that was the best tool at the time for that. Once I learned PHP, I built a lot of web apps and dynamic web pages for websites.

In 2010 I learned Objective-C because that’s what iPhone apps are written in and I wanted to build iPhone apps. After that I build some iPhone apps. Nothing too successful, but it was pretty fun.

Nowadays, I spend most of my coding time using Ruby and Rails professionally because it’s pretty fun and pays the bills. There are plenty of Rails jobs, so it’s a pretty good place to be.

To me, there is no best language. There are only tools like languages, engines, and frameworks that make it easier to build a particular kind of software that I’m trying to build.

So, decide what you want to build and then pick a suitable tool for that.

-Brian

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