travis.media

Should I Learn Multiple Programming Languages or Just Master One

At Bloc we started out with Front End Development. We learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. We checked out the JQuery library and re-created an app using the AngularJS framework.

At that point I began to feel very comfortable with JavaScript and was enjoying it immensely. I was reading JS and Angular books on the side to gain a better understanding.

During this time, I began building my portfolio page on the side and realized that I was somewhat deficient in CSS, so I took a little time going over CSS again to get a better footing.

Entering week 11 at Bloc, we began Back End development. We took an intense primer on Ruby and then jumped into Rails. Now, this side of things I really like…Rails is very powerful and I am finding back end development exciting.

Yet, in all this excitement and time spent learning Ruby on Rails, my confidence in JavaScript diminished; not so much the logic, but the syntax.

I want to keep pushing on with Rails, but I don’t want my understanding of JavaScript to be lost in the process.

The Dilemma

This brings me to the point of this post. It is a thought that comes up often in my day to day musings and one I would love to get your feedback on. It is this:

Is it prudent, as a new coder, to have a decent grasp of multiple languages, or to focus on one particular language and work to “master” it?

My Thoughts

I have given this some thought. There are guys, like Eric Elliot, who focus on a specific language (JavaScript) as their niche, and they become VERY familiar with it and carve out a successful life programming/teaching/etc. it. This seems like a wise thing to do, to zone in on one language, become very familiar with it, and market yourself as a _____ developer/teacher/etc.

This also seems wise for CodeNewbies, because the ultimate goal is to land a job…to get your foot in the door.

With this approach, it would be helpful to see what languages are in demand in your city/area. On your job search are you seeing a need for a specific language? If so, should this be your focus?

For example, I live in Lynchburg, Virginia, a fairly small city in comparison to many. To my knowledge, no one is looking for Ruby on Rails developers. But there seems to be a healthy demand for HTML/CSS/Javascript developers and those knowledgeable in web design. There is also a need for SQL experience.

Sure, there is freelance work, and the option of relocation, but should I spend the majority of my time in JS or Rails given what I have mentioned above? I would say JS if I plan to stay in this area.

Now should I quit learning Rails? Absolutely not! But I think I should put a bit more effort in the language that is needed in my location: To become well grounded in JS and market myself specifically as a JS developer.

Your Thoughts

These are my current thoughts and may change over time. What are your thoughts on this topic. Do you agree that if the goal is to land a job, then one should focus heavily on the language that is demanded in that area?

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