Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Submission + - I'm Too Old To Learn New Programming Languages? (slashdot.org) 18

ProgramadorPerdido writes: "I have been a developer for 25 years. I learned Basic, VB, C, FoxPro, Cobol, and Assembler, but the languages I used the most where Pascal and Delphi. I then concentrated on a now-non-mainstream language for 11 years, as it was used at work. One day I had the chance to move into Project Management and so I did for the last 2 years. Now at almost 40 years old I’m at a crossroad. On one side I realized developing is the thing I like best, while on the other side, the languages I’m most proficient with are not that hot on the market. So I came here looking for any advice on how to advance my career. Should I try to learn web development (html, xhtml, css, php, python, ruby)? Should I learn Java and/or C#? Or I’m too old to learn and work a new language? Should I go back to PM work even if I do not like it that much? Any similar experiences? Thanks."
This discussion was created for logged-in users only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

I'm Too Old To Learn New Programming Languages?

Comments Filter:
  • to feel that way. I'm 50-mumble, am learning java, Qt, c++, Apache, mySQL. Developing is what I do, and I'll not stop while my fingers can reach a keyboard. You're not old, kid.
    • by LesFerg ( 452838 )

      Yeah, what he said. I'm closer to 50 than 40, and some of the languages I have worked with in the past are no longer in use, or at least not widespread use (then again, some of the software I developed is still being used 18 years later). I took some time out from development, in a business analyst role, and enjoyed that quite a lot, but not as much as I enjoy development, and after a few years I felt like I was kinda falling behind on the technology.

      Having moved back into a development role, partly suppo

      • Thanks. For me the options are either desktop (Java/C#) or web. But i feel all the cool things nowadays are on the web, so i tend to think more of the latter. But i'm afraid off all the different technologies that i would need to learn, and the time it would take. I mean, if i want to program in Java, more or less i learn Java, as when I wanted to learn Delphi, I just did. But with web, you have to learn HTML, XHTML, CSS and PHP (to make something useful). It just looks as it would take me much more tim
        • A technology is a technology. If you have trouble with a given technology, find an abstraction or set of boiler plate that works for you. You don't have to be a great designer to muddle your way through the back end of a web app and you don't have to be that good at back end work to do design. So long as you can find the right reference or person to ask for help/questions when you need it, just work through one part of the puzzle at a time. It all comes down to tell that pedantic box in a rack somewhere
          • Well, right, I plan on concentrate ore on the non designer chores ;). It is crazy how this web thing is like going back to the time we had to develop our interfaces by code, like people do now with web techs.
        • Don't waste your time on PHP. There are still plenty of PHP jobs around, mainly because it was THE 'net language to use for a while, really the only reasonable choice. But it's showing its age, and other things do better.

          If you're going to learn an internet technology, I'd go with Python or Ruby. Either are good, but personally I'd choose the latter because it seems to have more momentum and popular support. I mean, aside from my personal biases. I just like it better.
          • Yeah, I also like Ruby better, but i heard is not scalable and most of the hostings come with PHP, and not Ruby. Is this correct?
            • The whole "Ruby/Rails is not scalable" argument was little but an ugly rumor and it was put to bed 5 years ago.

              YellowPages.com and Twitter are powered by Ruby and Rails (the most popular Ruby web framework). One of the Twitter founders decided to do part of their "back end" database work in Scala, but as it turns out that was probably a hasty decision. Most of Twitter is still done in Rails. And those are just two examples. Many other large sites are also Rails. I think Groupon is a Rails project, too.
    • Thanks, that is good. My main concern then would be the "transition time", meaning, the time from where i do not know nothing on web development, and the time i'm not a beginner. I mean, I assume there would be at least a year before I can start feeling comfortable with the tech.
      • I retired from general management and came back as a developer because I was bored. I got into Java in my late 40s. after a background heavy with databases and modelling; I got into general management more or less accidentally from redesigning a company workflow and then having to run it. As we all know, old farts cannot learn OO languages, so that's why I often have to sort out the mush created by junior developers. Now that my company's main product line is pretty stable, I am moving over to development u
        • Thanks for your comments. So you are suggesting I learn JavaScrip/AJAX, and I assume also HTML/XHTML, but shouldn't I also learn either PHP, Python, Ruby? I have db2/oracle knowledge, and have even used some MySQL, so that should be easier.
          • One of my relatives has been involved in the Ruby project and I know a number of Python developers. Unless you want to do server side stuff, I think really forget it. Their proponents are very common on Slashdot, but in the outside world not nearly so much, and they are tending to migrate to Java or web development. Server side development is hard work for serious applications with a long learning curve. I would say that after 15 years or so I'm getting reasonably good at it.

            HTML is not actually that big a

      • I mean, I assume there would be at least a year before I can start feeling comfortable with the tech.

        I apologize. The following is going to come out harsh and there's no way of toning it down without sacrificing the value added...

        "at least a year" is a giant red-flag. If it is going to take you a year before you're comfortable with a tech you're either not spending enough time learning it or you're a slow learner. Either way you should consider a different line of work. If its going to take you a year to get up to speed, consider that you'll probably have to change who you work with after that year: t

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          If it is going to take you a year before you're comfortable with a tech

          It takes an hour to be "comfortable", but to become more than a mediocrity can take far more than a year, depending on the tech. Sadly, some places mediocre is "good enough".

          I was 50 when I learned javascript, young man. Of course, programming is programming. He could become a mediocre practitioner of a new language in a month, but to be a wiz may take more than a year. The longer you do anything, the better you get at it (usually).

          • was 50 when I learned javascript, young man. Of course, programming is programming. He could become a mediocre practitioner of a new language in a month, but to be a wiz may take more than a year.

            I start with the assumption that you already have a fundamental understanding of how software works. I also assume that you know how to learn. If both of these are true, it should not take you a year to learn and be proficient in JavaScript and its related environment (HTML, HTMLDOM, XML, XMLDOM, server technology of your choice).

            If it does take you that long, you either don't fundamentally understand software or you don't (or can't) learn in which case you belong in a different field. You'll never cat

        • Well, PM work takes at least the same time it takes working as a dev, and it is boring! About the year thing, what mcgrew replied. I can probably do the learning on 2/3 months (i assume), but I mean to be more than good, at least a year. Maybe less, maybe more. Do not know.
  • If you are a natural, you won't be able to leave the field.

    I'm closer to 50 than 40 and for years I've been telling computer science students that there are only two things they need to learn in college:
    1. A fundamental understanding of how software works, and
    2. How to learn

    If you're a software developer who isn't constantly trying to learn new ways of thinking then you need to start figuring out what your next career is going to be.

    Personally, I always have at least one "home" project going on. W

    • Thanks. Totally agree. I have participated for ome time on OS projects and such. And I would probably start learning web dev soon, as I do not see a clear career path for me, besides being a PM or a manager.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. -- Albert Einstein