Multilingual programming

How many programming languages can you code in? 3? 7? Are you proficient in all of them? “Well, [insert favourite programming language here] is the greatest, and I don’t need anything else!”


If you’ve done any work in a professional capacity, then you’ve probably encountered programs written in archaic languages of old and cutting edge software and everything in between. And sometimes, you need to make them work with each other.

For instance, data could be sent in a text file. It had to be processed with shell scripts in the Unix environment with programs written in C. It’s then dissected and inserted into the database. Then it had to be available in other systems. Problem was, the data in the database wasn’t sufficient. A choice had to be made: expand the data in the database to include more fields, or simply send the raw data to the other systems.

Either way, the other systems were on Windows servers. If raw data was sent, a program had to be written to read it in. Web applications were to be written for data display and manipulation using ASP.NET and C# and VB.NET. So the read-in program might as well be written in a .NET language.

Then comes reading and writing HTML, because even if the IDE was doing a good job of hiding it, sooner or later, looking at HTML would be inevitable. Then there’s Javascript and CSS. Then there’s interoperability with Java programs. And so on and so forth.

Working with different programming and scripting languages, learning the different semantics of operating systems, and reconciling the syntax of different databases. This is what’s going to make you a better programmer, a polymath programmer.