Programming for Beginners


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?

As far as popularity is concerned, there’s a clear message here: JavaScript leads with 62.5 percent, followed by SQL with 51.2 percent. But is that helpful for you? Only to a limited extent: SQL is simply used everywhere for databases and is not suitable for general programming entry at all. JavaScript, on the other hand, could be interesting.

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The best job and salary prospects? Stack Overflow distinguishes between web and desktop developers, admins and data engineers – and almost everywhere the most common answer is JavaScript again, only the desktop programmers only rank it second. JavaScript becomes even more interesting. In terms of salaries, JavaScript employees are only ranked 21 in the world, and 6 in Germany, with an annual salary of a good 51,000 US dollars. That’s just 2,000 euros less than with Java.

And what do developers want? The most popular language among the survey participants is Rust, but this only applies to coders who already (have to) work with it. Under “Most Wanted” Python and, again, JavaScript are in 1st and 2nd place. On the other hand, 40 percent of the respondents say that they would rather not continue working with JavaScript – a statistic in which Python appears much later.

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!

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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.

With all these buzzwords three candidates appear again and again: JavaScript, Java and Python. Java and Python are both suitable for pretty much all purposes, JavaScript is aimed almost exclusively at web developers. And that would be our entry recommendations: JavaScript, if you want to work mainly on interactive websites and the like and Python for the general entrance into programming – because it is the most popular language of both developers and teachers.

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.

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