Not Dead Yet!

At least once a week, I see someone refer to Fortran as a "dead" language. A recent interview I did included asking me if I worried about my job since "many people say there is no future in Fortran".

So it was with some amusement that I ran across an article on the Computerworld web site titled The top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills. Fortran was not on the list, though COBOL and C were. (I'll choose to ignore the possibility that the author wasn't even aware of Fortran...)

This sort of list always brings out emotions in people, and this one was no exception, looking at the comments. The inclusion of C on the list upset many, but the article's point was that if you know only C and not C++, you'll fall behind in the job market, and I think that is true.

My take on this is that one is served best by not focusing too narrowly on one particular technology, no matter what it is. In the case of programming languages, more is always better. You may not be actively using more than a couple of languages at a time, but being familiar with diverse languages can help expand your thinking and lead to better code. I think I've learned some two-dozen programming languages over my career. I could not write a valid program in many of them today, but I could probably read most (APL perhaps excepted).

The old adage, "When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" applies to programming. There is not one single programming language that is best for all applications. Take the time to learn a few different languages, including scripting and object-oriented languages, and pick the one that is best suited to your application (keeping in mind issues such as who's going to maintain it, company policies and the like - just because you know Python that doesn't necessarily make it appropriate for your company's payroll application.)
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