In his blockbuster Bloomberg essay “What is Code,” Paul Ford wrote that “the choice of a main programming language is the most important signalling behaviour that a technology company can engage in.”
Programming languages create fierce tribes around themselves, with developers often getting into “religious wars” over the pros and cons of each.
It’s gotten to the point where stereotypes have emerged — some languages have a reputation as great for the hobbyist but bad for the serious enterprise app developer, while others are thought to be reliable, but boring.
(Some of them are even thought to be more “manly” than others, which is hogwash — recent studies show men and women are good at the same programming languages at about the same rate.)
Here’s what your favourite programming language says about you, courtesy of the Internet.
You can check out the comic strip here.
Ruby developers have a reputation as being willing and able to build apps quickly, but not to maintain them.
This Reddit post from a Ruby on Rails developer lays it out in plain terms: 'Ruby developers don't tend to stick around for long. I know precious few people who have stayed in the same place developing Ruby apps for more than 2-3 years.'
PHP isn't taken terribly seriously by the programming world at large -- which is a little weird, because sites like Facebook and Wikipedia use it.
It has a reputation for being insecure and inconsistent, but PHP adherents insist that the language getting better all the time.
'Sometimes I really do get tired of the judgment. Despite thinking that PHP is a perfectly fine language, I often think about abandoning PHP development entirely just so I don't have to deal with the judgment anymore,' wrote Twitter software engineer Jon Kuperman in a recent blog post.
'Tell me that you program in Java, and I believe you to be either serious or boring,' wrote Ford in his essay.
Java is the programming language that powers much of the world. As such, developers like to rag on it for being boring or cliche, but it still underpins a lot of the world's software.
'People complain, but it works,' Ford writes.
Go, a popular young language that only debuted in 2009, is having some growing pains as developers struggle with its relative immaturity. Still, it's got a lot of fans who find it to be easier to get stuff done.
The streamlined Python programming language is popular amongst newbie developers, giving it the reputation of being a starter language.
Still, plenty of productive developers love Python because of its vast 'standard library' -- modules of reusable code that lets them do more stuff, faster.
FORTRAN and COBOL are languages that date back to the 1950s, but they're still in use, mostly at government agencies, financial institutions, and research labs.
As Ford writes, if you say you write code in FORTRAN, 'I ask to see your security clearance.'