Be A Better Developer #1 : Focus On One Language

If you are like me, the obsession to be the best developer you could ever be runs true. Of course, there’s tons of sexy new languages out there. Languages like Rust, Kotlin, Golang, Elixir and Swift are hot right now, but soon a new set of language will pervade the industry. So should you try and pick up every language out there?

One of the best advice I received on my quest to become a better developer, was to focus on one language. But there’s so many languages out there and I want to learn this new language. Or my friends have been raving about how great this language been for their web application.

What should we do? Read on after the break on why you should focus on one language.

The Intro : Why Focus On One Language?

I’ve coded at a young age, though I hated coding and didn’t code seriously until three years ago. When I picked up Ruby from the MaGiC x NextAcademy coding bootcamp, my perspective changed and I loved the ability to engineer new things and solve everyday issues.

But my long term goal wasn’t to be a Ruby developer. Rather, I wanted to be a PHP developer to fix certain shortcomings I had with my WooCommerce online store. So I spent months picking up PHP, Object Oriented PHP, WordPress and finally Laravel.

And then, languages like JavaScript, Swift and Kotlin started to interest me. For awhile I tried to juggle learning advanced PHP with intermediate JavaScript and found myself confused as well as short of time. Really, it is hard to learn one language well but it is harder to learn two languages well at the same time.

We really need some focus if we wanna get to God-like status

So let me help you here to avoid the mistakes I’ve made. Here’s why you should focus on one language.

1) Builds Strong Foundation For Future Languages

Focusing on one language does a number of things to us. It sets us up to learn deeply about the language instead of skirting around it and getting nowhere. There are a number of nuances in a language, and worse in frameworks that will take time to learn.

When we go deeper into a language, we build strong foundations whereupon we could easily pick up a second or a third language. Without it, we end up confused with syntax and waste much time trying to get our pseudo-code to work in a certain language.

2) Preferred By Employers

Employers value a deep understanding of a language over superficial mastery in multiple languages. Think about it, in most job descriptions (for example, on Larajobs), you’re expected to be good at two languages.

In an interview, you either come in as a PHP and JavaScript developer or a PHP and Ruby developer, but never a PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, Kotlin and Swift developer. In fact, I doubt you can be great at five different languages at the same time.

3) Learning A Language Deeply Takes Time

It took me thousands of hours to pick up PHP to the level I’m comfortable with majority of videos on LaraCasts. If I had education from only Codecademy and Udemy, I would be severely uncomfortable as Laravel has many advanced coding concepts that are rarely found in the WordPress ecosystem.

Nowadays if you ask me, I’m extremely comfortable with WordPress and getting there with Laravel. By year end, I should be good enough to do advanced Laravel, whereupon it would be time to learn JavaScript deeply.

Focus On One Language : The Conclusion

If you are new to coding, don’t assume you have arrived and could pick up a second language once you are done with a coding bootcamp or some course on Udemy / FreeCodeCamp. There is so much to learn.

There is an old saying that says better be an expert than a jack of all trades. See you soon!

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Leo Koo
I run a small agency building and maintaining turnkey and bespoke WordPress sites. I also review WordPress plugins and digital marketing tools while running this site and the WPStarters Facebook Group. Do swing by and say hi :)
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