Programming in a “foreign” language

[Update] Added a paragraph about Dash API documentation browser app.

When I say foreign language, I’m not talking Spanish, German, Chinese, etc. but a programming language that you don’t use on a day-to-day basis.

My “native” programming language is Cobol (COmmon Business Oriented Language).  I’ve been programming in it my entire professional career of over 30 years.  It’s the language I am most comfortable in using and know the best.

Over the past several years I’ve tried learning some other programming languages to enhance my skills.  I’ve used Swift, Objective-C, C, C++, Python and the web “triad” of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Each programming language has applications and purposes that they are well suited for.  HTML/CSS/JavaScript are great for web development.  While you can use technologies such as Cordova to build mobile apps with HTML/CSS/JavaScript, if you really want to develop apps for iOS or Android, one is better off using Java or Kotlin for Android or Objective-C or Swift for iOS.

Of the many programming languages I’ve dabbled in and tried to learn, I find that Java is the easiest for me to understand.  Using a good IDE like IntelliJ IDEA by JetBrains, it is more pleasing to write Java code.  For example, instead of having to type “System.out.println”, all one needs to type is “sout” and press the Tab key, and it will automatically expand to the full method name.  Another nice shortcut is “psvm” for “public static void main(String[] args)”  The IDE will also alert you to errors as you enter your code.  It can generate other code that is often entered, such as getters/setters, override methods and much more.   There are 2 editions, Community (free) and Ultimate (paid, with a free trial).  You can find out the differences and learn more at this link.

JetBrains also makes IDEs for other programming languages which run on macOS, Windows, and Linux.  You can see all of their products at this link.

I’ve tried many editors as well (Atom, Brackets, Coda, Visual Studio Code), but I really find the JetBrains IDEs easy to customize and use.  Building and debugging your code is easier, and you can also link the IDE to your Google Chrome browser and preview and debug it.

Another great app that helps when programming is called Dash.  It makes it easier to search API documentation for practically any programming language.  Dash has integration with many popular macOS editors and has other third party sources as well as user contributed documentation.  Dash is available on the Mac App Store, iOS App Store and the iOS source is on Github.

This is not a paid endorsement, just a happy user of JetBrains products.

Author: Mike Polinske

I'm a computer geek who likes to share God's Word with the world.

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