Episode 11: The Polyglot Dev

Episode 11 – The Polyglot Dev With Will Gant

In this episode we discuss the impact of learning multiple languages on your career, language families, parallels with learning foreign languages, and specialization v. diversification.

01:26 – Welcome, Will Gant! Will is a host on our sibling podcast, The Complete Developer. He’s been coding since the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was on network television, and he knows a few programming languages we’ve never even heard of.

02:20 – “Sharpening the Tools”

Erin – Learning process and tools for query optimization. Continuing to help with a church WordPress site on the side.

Dave – Diving into Angular 5 for a work related work project.

Will – Spoke at Covalence about overcoming whiteboard interviews.

7:09 – “Opening the Toolbox”

Will has worked with C#, JavaScript, SQL, Visual Basic, Delphi, C, C++, Assembler, Python, Ruby, VBA, FoxPro, Java, R, and more! I think we counted about 27 total?

He is most experienced with C#, JavaScript, Delphi, SQL, Typescript, CSS, SASS, and Powershell.

In Erin’s career she’s worked with JavaScript, C#, Java, SQL. She has also dabbled in Python & Swift. She tries to avoid Java at all costs, if she can help it!

Dave has focused mostly on JavaScript, and decided it was a solid starting point that could cover both front-end and back-end web development (MEAN stack). He played with BASIC as a kid, but doesn’t really remember any of it.

14:50 – Will’s advice would be to specialize, but learn enough about other languages to glean ideas and other approaches.

“You can kinda be middling to okay in a bunch of different languages, but if you really want to … provide overwhelming value, you’ve pretty much have to pick one.”

21:30 – You want to learn your first language really well before you jump into a second. Continually jumping to the next hot thing can stifle your learning.

Sometimes you may find a logical path to your next language, as you’re learning the full stack. In Dave’s case, his study of Angular and Typescript may be a stepping stone to learning C# and other strictly-typed languages.

Complete Developer did an episode on how to approach your second language and discovered some similarities with studying spoken languages. The concept of cognates (similar words in different languages, like the English ‘cold’ to the German ‘kalt’) can also be found in programming language structures and patterns.

Tim Ferris discusses hacks for learning a spoken language quickly.

28:30 – Spoken languages sometimes make assumptions that don’t exist in other languages. There are some parallels here in programming, especially higher-level languages that abstract away some concerns like memory management.

We discuss ‘newer’ experimental languages verses tried and true ‘old’ ones and learning trends from this article Erin brought to the table.


Thanks for listening, see you next time!


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[…] Will Gant talks about the benefits of learning other programming languages on Junior Dev Podcast episode 11 […]