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Working with a range of coding languages


The way I'm currently working, developing web apps, I'm writing in five different languages at the same time - in the same development environment (Notepad++). PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, HTML & CSS. I'm fairly new to web development, but from the reading I've done - this seems to be normal.

I come from a Microsoft background - so would build an entire MS Access database, with front end interfaces, business logic, database, queries, reports and even integrations to other applications like MS Excel , terminal emulators and Lotus Notes in just two languages - VBA & Access SQL - and even the I wouldn't write much SQL as there's a query builder!

Don't get me wrong, I love learning a new language - especially when I get to grips with it and I start to see how I can be productive and build things which really help people do their job. I tried some JavaScript a long time and struggled with it - but recently I've been getting the hang of it and am really liking the control I have over a webpage using the DOM. I'm finding some nice features in PHP too that I didn't have VBA - like sending emails (without using the local computers email client) and creating pdfs.

Switching around between these languages throws up some minor irritations. Concatenating strings sometimes catches me out - in JS & C# it's a plus sign, in PHP it's a dot and VBA it's an ampersand. MessageBox, MsgBox & Alert is another one that's caused a few debug errors, and adding semi-colons to the end of VBA lines after a few days on JavaScript!

Perhaps some development environments shield you from this, but intertwining PHP & HTML can be a bit of an issue - it just feels messy. Echoing out HTML & dealing with echoing text containing double and single quotes (<<<END END is good, but doesn't look very nice as you can't indent it nicely). It's good though that you don't have to concatenate to include variables in a string.

Lots of people have their opinions on which language I should be developing in “Java is the hot language at the moment..” “you want to be developing iPhone apps - learn Objective C!” “Android is the future - learn whatever language that is...” I worry about becoming a Jack of all trades - master of none...!

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