General Question

Wilhelm's avatar

Want to expand on my marketability as a web developer. What language should I learn?

Asked by Wilhelm (66points) August 31st, 2007

I’ve been developing in PHP for about 7 years now and while I still learn new methods and techniques, I think it’s a great time to take my knowledge that I’ve gained and port it over to a new language. The problem is that there are so many out there. I just want to expand my horizons and increase my value in the web development market.

Some I’m considering are Ruby, Python, ASP or Coldfusion. I’ve been getting a lot of referrals for CF work and it seems like an interesting enough language to learn. I’ve also been getting a lot of questions from high-profile potential clients asking if I do ASP work.

I understand from other ASP developers out there that they can pretty much name their price because the demand for skilled coders in this language is so high right now.

Ruby is great and I know i can pick up on it with relative ease considering pretty much all my code nowadays strictly adheres to object oriented coding practices, but the interest in the language seems to be fizzling out. Plus, I heard it isn’t that great for high-volume websites and it doesn’t scale well. I need some verification on that, though. Should probably do a bit of research.

I don’t see any demand for Python developers as it seems like more of a niche market. Though, it seems like a fun language to learn in your spare time.

Just want to be able to meet the demand in the current job market and diversify my skill set.

Comments, thoughts? Thanks!

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10 Answers

glial's avatar

Recently discussed here:

I’ll answer again, since you already have php, i would look at ASP and Cold Fusion.

I also don’t see much demand for Python or Ruby. Not they are bad languages.

ben's avatar

One thing to consider is what kind of projects you like to be working on. For example, while python/ruby is likely a smaller market, it may contain more interesting projects (because those projects had the flexibility/insight to pick these languages.) Of course, I have some personal bias because we chose to build Fluther using python (and django).

My real advice: spend a day with each and see which you like best. I would also try researching specific companies that would work for and see what they use (as opposed to just listening to anecdotal evidence).

And for the record, python rocks.

segdeha's avatar

The “Ruby is fizzling out” and “Python is niche” memes strike me as F.U.D. There is lucrative (and, as ben said, interesting) work out there in both languages. And, I agree, Python rocks!

That said, if you already have inroads on getting work in ColdFusion or .NET, then go for it. I’ve worked with both (though only briefly and reluctantly with .NET) as well as with Python and Ruby (and, of course, the ubiquitous PHP). For you it sounds like a practical decision: become more marketable.

Another approach might be to explore working with frameworks within PHP. CakePHP and Symfony are both mature, high quality frameworks. We use Symfony where I work. It’s a clone of Ruby on Rails. One of the big advantages of using a framework is that it allows us to have a team of developers working on different layers of the application concurrently, unlike less structured PHP apps I’ve worked on.

tonystubblebine's avatar

Ruby’s still pretty hot in the Bay Area. The Ruby meetup is always packed and there are always people announcing Rails jobs. Also, a VC friend told me recently that 95% of startup pitches they’ve seen were based on Ruby on Rails. I think that supports Ben’s “interesting work” theory.

As for scalability, I think a lot of the knock on Ruby on Rails performance comes from Twitter’s scaling problems. Keep in mind that they had a growth curve that saw usage doubling about every month. And they were able to overcome that in Rails. MySpace started out in ColdFusion, had a ridiculous growth curve, and had to switch languages in order to deal (.NET).

glial's avatar

Hindi ! ...bada boom..thanks guys I’m playing here all week

twilliams's avatar

The answer might depend on context in which you envision yourself using the new skills. If, by “marketability”, you mean, “attractive to corporate development managers”, ASP.Net would be what you want to look at. I manage a team of developers for a successful corporate (mid-cap) organization and we are doing quite well with both C#/ASP.Net and Java. Off-hours, though, I spend time looking at Python (yes, it rocks) and Ruby. Don’t think for a minute that either of those choice will not provide value for you. Django and Rails are great example of what can be done with a web application framework. Those lessons will work elsewhere.

If you are looking to position yourself in a smaller shop or a startup space, the Python/Ruby path will be of more value to you than would be ASP.Net. I’d worry less about the scalability issues. Truly, they are more a function of the architecture of the application and the underlying framework than the language itself. (Having said that, Ruby is slow.)

Moving beyond PHP is an excellent idea in this market. You have some good choices here. If you want to touch on all of them, you would get yourself more familier with C# and the .Net Framework and then move on to IronPython and IronRuby…a long haul, for sure, but you would get the best of all worlds, maybe.

As for CF…pass on this. The work you are finding is probably maintenance stuff. I am not sure a see a future here. Not sure if it is worth the investment of your time.

adrianscott's avatar

I wouldn’t write off ColdFusion so quickly. With the recent release of CF8, and all of its massive improvements, it definitely is a fantastic solution for a quick-to-market system. Sure, companies may be apprehensive about using it due to its cost, but at least check out the FREE developer’s edition and see if you like it.

I’ve been using ColdFusion for almost 3 years now and am blown away with the power it gives me and the speed it allows me to dev new projects. At the very least you’ll be a part of a smaller, more specialized development community if you decide to learn the advanced features of ColdFusion.

It never hurts to have more weapons in your arsenal!

segdeha's avatar

At the risk of spreading F.U.D., isn’t ColdFusion mostly used in U.S. government projects at this point? What high profile sites use it? The question was about expanding marketability. If CF is not widespread, learning it won’t expand Wilhelm’s marketability much.

Wilhelm's avatar

Wow, thanks for all the great responses! As it turns out, my next job is moving from PHP to RoR within the next few months. I’ve been looking for a good reason to jump into Ruby and now it seems that I have one.

Ruby it is!

adrianscott's avatar

@segdeha Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, but here’s a list I acquired of some of the major users of ColdFusion. Please keep in mind that some of this information may be outdated (as I didn’t have the time to check each individual page)...

AT&T Wireless, Bank of America, BMW USA, Car Toys, Casio, Electronic Arts, First National Bank, Foot Locker, Ford, Hasbro, Logitech, Mitsubishi Cars, MySpace, National Security Agency, Pepsi, Reebok, Sanyo, Siemens, and US Bank.

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