The Telegraph e-Paper
The Telegraph
| Thursday, January 22, 2015 |

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Coding for jobs

There are more programming languages around today than you can count, and this raises a question for all wannabe coders: what languages should you learn and specialise in? You could learn the language that you really like. But in the job market, not all languages are created equal. Being skilled in certain languages makes you more valuable to employers. Choose one from the list below and you’ll be a favourite with employers, at least in the near future.

While going to a university or a training centre is a must, at the undergrad level universities are bound by their need to train students in the basics. If you want to be a master programmer, you have to learn new languages along with what your college teaches you. So set aside some money and buy some manuals, and code, code, code. The more you code the better you will become at the language.

Jack of all trades 
If you learn Java, you can work anywhere. Literally. You want to do mobile app development? Android runs off Java. Want to do web development? Java is used there too. Want to work in the corporate sector? Java specialists are needed there as well. With Java under your belt, all you need to worry about is the kind of work you want to do.

“Learning Java is a good sign that you have your basics down,” says Vipul Tope, head of pre-sales, sales, and marketing at Webonise, a product development consultancy based at Pune. “Furthermore, the flexibility it provides in terms of employment means it’s always worth learning, no matter what.”

Cloud technology — which uses remote servers or a “cloud” to store and maintain data — has been at the centre of information technology for the past few years. Says Siddharth Jalan, director, Indiaonline.in, a network of Indian portals, “Cloud services have brought about a perfect match for almost all development efforts. Java developers looking for a career in cloud computing can start by learning to work with one of the major services such as Red Hat (a US-based open source software provider), OpenShift (a cloud computing platform) or Google App Engine (Google’s cloud platform) for Java.”

The Internet’s backbone 
Hyper Text Markup Language or HTML is the standard language used to create Web pages. It is one of the fundamental technologies the Web is built upon. When combined with JavaScript and CSS it can be used to create impressive Web pages and apps with interactive features, better forms, video and canvas capabilities and Web storage. Says Jalan of Indiaonline.in, “Technically excellent knowledge of HTML along with CSS handling is very important.” For any e-commerce website, these features are most critical. “A well designed and optimised website always draws more users,” he adds.

Rajesh Garg, developer, Nurturey.com, a web platform for parents, goes a step farther when he says, “I believe learning HTML is key to getting the best jobs in the web world.” First, it is used widely, be it for the web or for mobile apps. One can choose any language such as Ruby or Python but cannot skip HTML. Second, it is easy to learn and with new features its usability has increased. 

Face of the web 
When a language is used by social networking sites like Facebook, Wordpress and other such biggies, it goes without saying that it’s worth picking up. While you could always go for HTML/CSS if web development is your thing, the scripting language PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) has its own value which cannot be underestimated. It’s a widely used general purpose language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded in HTML. It was originally designed to produce dynamic Web pages. And once again, we have to underline that open source is the way to go, career-wise. 

“Knowledge of PHP is desired because companies are moving towards open source languages like it,” says Tope of 
Webonise. “Also, learning PHP makes you flexible as a programmer. It allows you to think better, code better, and just become a better programmer overall.”

On the cutting edge 
Deciding on one or the other really depends on your personal aesthetics as a programmer. While Python is more widely used, Ruby has been gaining traction in recent times, and there doesn’t seem to be a job market preference for one over the other.

“If you just want a job, there are dozens of other languages you can learn,” says Gautam Rege, Ruby prophet, entrepreneur, and founder of Josh Software, one the few places in India which offers training in Ruby. “But if you want a career, you have to know the industry’s pulse to keep ahead of the game, and the current trend is leaning towards Ruby or Python.” 

The best thing about these is that it embraces open source software — the development model promotes a universal access via a free licence for a product’s design or blueprint. Which is why learning one of these languages can really help pay off in the long run.

Says Aman Garg, developer, Nurturey.com, “Since very few developers know these they are highly paid. Most of the startups today prefer these languages to build their products as one can develop an application much faster.

Says Jalan, “Python is most sought after to identify malware (a variety of malicious software) which is very critical to any business today. Malware attacks can lead from viruses being transmitted over the network to destroy data.”
 
Welcome to Apple world 
Objective-C is the language used to code for Apple’s mobile products. And in today’s day and age, service sector companies want to have an app for their company on the Apple apps store. 

It’s become a standard business practice, and is in demand. As such, you can’t go wrong when you focus on it.

“When companies think of developing an app, they usually first think iOS and then Android,” says Balasubramnian, mobile lead and co-founder of Inkoniq, a major app developer. “If you want to get into the mobile app development space, you ought to seriously consider picking up Objective-C. There are a lot of Java programmers out there already, so you can go niche and market yourself as an Apple app guru!”