Learning to program is a long, difficult journey – and if the first few hundred kilometres go in the wrong direction, you’ll probably break off the journey and sit on the couch. So you should think carefully about which programming language to start with!
The selection of the best programming language for the introduction can be determined at many points – and there will never be a clear answer. Are you looking for a language that is particularly easy to learn? A language for a specific application area? Do you want it to open up the best job opportunities for you? Or perhaps the maximum salary? Or should it be the most popular? The most popular?
You want to develop programs that run as perfectly as possible and really get deep into computer science? Then the classic C, the much more practice-oriented C++, but above all Java is the right choice. All three languages are very powerful, allow the most basic work and are also used in the commercial environment very much by the companies. Java is quite well suited for the introduction, C not at all and C++ only for those who really, really mean it!
Now it’s getting really exciting: Are you looking for a language that is easy to learn? Here there are two acquaintances as clear winners, if you look, for example, at what is used at American universities for programming courses: Python and Java are clearly in the lead here. Matlab for mathematical matters and C and C++, which are increasingly being replaced by Java, follow.
General introduction: Python
Python has established itself over the last few years as an egg-laying wool milk sow. You will find discussions in many places on the net, whether Python is a scripting language or a “real” programming language, but you can make it easy: The inventor of Python, Guido von Rossum, calls Python a “universal all-purpose programming language” and that’s the way it works. You can use Python to write small scripts for everyday administration, but also monolithic desktop programs for customers.
The Python code
It remains relatively easy to read, which helps a lot when getting started. In addition, there are lots of free learning materials; no matter whether you are looking for an introduction to a certain topic, complete online tutorials, programming aids directly in the browser or training programs for the desktop – you will find a large selection. But even after the learning phase, when you want to become productive, the Python world supports you with many useful, free libraries. Such labraries contain standard functions that not every Python developer has to reinvent with every project. For example, NumPy can be used to rebuild several Matlab functions – except that NumPy is of course available for free.
Python simply offers the best overall package: it’s open source, developers love it, teachers love it, it’s absolutely universal, there are plenty of tools for learning and programming, you can try your hand at hundreds of thousands of open source projects at the first little hacks, and all of this keeps the language relatively easy to read. Python is therefore clearly our tip for your first steps in programming.