Friday, February 07, 2014

What programming languages do I use?

This month's Roundtable discussion on the PL/SQL Challenge is:

If you are on this website, you almost certainly know PL/SQL and SQL. What other programming languages do you currently use? How do you find they compare to PL/SQL and SQL?

We have been playing quizzes at the PL/SQL Challenge for several years; some of you almost seem like old friends to me by now. It is always interesting to find out more about players. Let's start from the professional side (perhaps the next Roundtable can explore our personal lives. :-) ).

  • What language do you use most of all in your work? Do you consider this your primary language or just the one you have to spend the most time with?
  • What languages do you use now? Preferably this would mean you used the language on a "real" project in 2013.
  • What languages do you plan to learn? Why? Do you need it for your job or do you simply want to expand your horizons?
Here's the answer I posted there today:

What technologies to I use?

I suppose everyone on this site knows the answer to this question:

2. SQL (in a rather ignorant fashion, relative to my level of expertise in PL/SQL)
3. HTML (I know, I know, it's not a programming language, but I can't have just two languages. Too embarrassing)

Years ago, I was a FORTRAN programmer.

I happened to get a part-time programming job in a University of Rochester research lab and lo and behold! Time to learn FORTRAN.

So I did, and used that knowledge to get jobs all the way through 1986. FORTRAN in a bank, Fortran in a pharmaceutical company, FORTRAN in an insurance company.

But, fortunately, as I moved through various FORTRAN jobs, I also started to work with these strange things named databases - on DEC "mainframes" like DEC10s and DEC20s.

Which then allowed me to think I might be able to work for Oracle with their even newer relational databases. That was a pre-sales job (standing up in front of groups of people and showing them how amazing SQL joins were!), but fortunately I arrived just in time to welcome SQL*Forms 3 and PL/SQL. Ah! A nice easy language that even I could "master"! (I only took three programming classes in college, all "101" courses on Algol, Lisp and something else....)

I suppose I should learn some new technologies. Ruby on Rails sounds very cool - the name, I mean. I don't know anything about the language itself. Python? How fun is that?

I should learn new stuff...but, heck, I am 55. I have spent a very large percentage of the last 35 years in front of a computer or talking to other people about how to work best in front of a computer.

I'd rather learn other new stuff, so for the past year I have been intensively studying evolution. How truly incredible and amazing! Now there's a "language" that blows my mind: The coding in DNA is mind-boggling. The irrefutable and compelling logic of evolution is astonishing.

If you have not read about evolution lately (and certainly almost anything you learned in school was both superficial and is now out of date), I strongly encourage you to check out:

Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin
The Beak of the Finch, Jonathan Weiner
The Darwinian Tourist, Christopher Wills
Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne


Ted Martin said...

Thanks for the info and insights. I also started in the late 1980’s and my first job was working with SQL*Forms 2.0 on an MicroVAX/VMS for what we now call a "startup" - W.H.Smith in England was trying to create Cable TV channels and my job was to mostly try to write PRO*Fortan user exits to build an interface for the Programme Manager. It was a tough job but it taught me most of what I have learned to *not* do.

My concern lately is that since all of the new software developers are only learning object-oriented stuff, they may not be learning general design and development skills regardless of the language used.

I'll followup on your suggestions on the "real" programming that nature is already dong.

BTW: I have lost count of the number of third-party PL/SQL apps I have maintained that all seem to use that "l_" thing you use for local variables. I hate to say it but I try to remove them as well as any global variables (or treat the global variables as the exception and prefix them with "GLOBAL_" instead.).

Take Care,

Scott Wesley said...

Thanks for the book tips, I've read a few you recommended a while ago when you visited Perth - I think we share similar taste in books.

I've read Coyne's book - it's brilliantly concise, yet encompassing. Heck, I can't find the right words. Dawkin's 'Greatest Show on Earth' is similar.

If you're into SciFi, Stephen Baxter does a great job melding tales of evolution into his stories - letting your imagination run wild on what it might have been like.