Tutorial :Figuring out the right language for the job: branching out from C#


I work in a Microsoft environment, so I can use my C# hammer on any nails I come across. That being said, what languages (compiled, interpreted, scripting, functional, any types!) complement knowing C#, and for what purposes? For example, I've moved a lot of script functionality away from compiled console apps and into Powershell scripts. If you're an MS developer, have you found a niche in your world for other languages like F#, IronRuby, IronPython, or something similar, and what niche do they fill?

Note: this question is directed at the Microsoft dev people since I can't run off and start installing LAMP stacks around my company, and therefore having to support it forever. :) However, feel free to mention any other languages that you found interesting to fulfill a certain task/role in your world apart from your main language.


Python/Perl/Ruby/PowerShell are great supplements to C#/VB.NET. If your boss hands you a text file and says insert it into the database once or twice, then any of Perl/Python/Ruby (I'm not sure about powershell but I imagine it is not that much more difficult) should be fine to parse it. Either way, for your main applications you will probably be stuck in C#. You can use one of the more dynamic languages to do code generation in C#.

Since you are in a Microsoft Environment, probably your best chance at getting your solution accepted is PowerShell. Next to that I'd say IronPython or something else that integrates with the CLR. But main issue is that for someone else to maintain what you do, they would have to know whatever language you are using. MS in the future has plans to use PowerShell a lot more, so it is probably easier to justify PowerShell then say Python/Perl/Ruby.

If you are just processing a text file for one time use. Or creating a one time code generator to generate all the code and then intend to maintain the generated code, then it doesn't matter. You are the one who will consume the results and if you save time using Perl then more power to you. But if you are doing something that will be used over and over again (like an active code generator where you change the templates and run the generator instead of maintaining the generated code) then other developers working on what you did will need to know the language you used. It is much harder to argue learning Perl/Ruby/Python in a Microsoft Shop. But PowerShell seems like the easier argument. I think the MS grand plan is that eventually applications will expose more functionality for power shell through commandlets. Assuming this happens then PowerShell is even more of a no-brainer because it will expose tons of scriptable functionality that you won't get any other way.


A nice scripting language is always a good tool to have on you belt. See Ruby, or Python.


I use python for prototyping, since there's almost no turn around time between edits and actually running the new version of the code. I may even end up using it for a real project - the more I use it, the more I like it.

It will take some getting used to as a C# programmer, though - the indentation-defines-structure system it uses is a little weird at first.


Since you are in a MS shop, I would suggest PowerShell as a decent scripting language to learn. It plays well with C#. I'm a big fan of Ruby too.


I'd like to second or third python. Specifically, IronPython (ttp://www.codeplex.com/Wiki/View.aspx?ProjectName=IronPython) lets you learn python but also gives you access to the .net framework goodies.

It's quite nice for scripting-related tasks so it'll probably be useful for your day-to-day coding life, and also a nice way to muck around in an experimental coding/prototyping way.


While it's a bit of a fringe language, I'm compelled to mention Erlang. Erlang is an excellent language to have in your toolbox since it's unusual strengths tend to compliment other programming platforms. Erlang is very useful for building distributed, concurrent, fault-tolerant systems. It's used a lot in the instant-messaging and telephony world where there's a need for distributed, yet interconnected architectures.


Maybe play around with Boo and see what you think.
Boo at Codehaus.org
Boo at Wikipedia


If your using the .Net framework the language is really not important as the compiler and interpreter create the same IL code in any case.

If you step away from the .Net world, I am of the opinion that development tools and languages are a tool box. I strive to use the right tools for the job at hand, taking into consideration what the skill base of the other developers are and what direction a company is seeking of course (I'm a consultant).


I'm with jjnguy. Try one of the scripting languages. Plus as a bonus, when you learn Ruby/PythonPearl, etc...it's a gateway drug...err language to developing for other environments.


Trying out languages outside of your normal toolbox will give you new ways of approaching things in your current favorite language. Even if you don't use them for serious projects languages like Perl (for data mangling), Lisp (functional programming), and Javascript (prototype based programming) will teach you new ways to think about problems in your current language.


As a web developer by trade, you might look into the XSLT/XPath family as for certain types of XML processing they can be very powerful tools.

Granted, in C# 3.x Linq2Xml exposes some similar functionality inline.

XSLT, however, can be a powerful way to separate data from presentation in your apps.


I am very interested in F# and some of the other new languages in the CLR/DLR. The DLR languages might be a lot better for your UI, because they don't make you cast a lot of stupid things.

However, I think that it is important to keep in mind tha learning a new language, especially in a new area, like functional programming, is always a good way to re-train your mind so that you are exposed to new concepts and you can code better in your language of choice, even if you never use those new languages.


Check out Boo - it runs on top of the .NET stack, but its syntax is more like Python.


To learn a new language that complements C#, I'd go with C++. You can use it in a 'way better than p/invoke' style to get access to unmanaged code from your C# apps. You can then start using it to write the memory-constrained apps, and/or performance-critical bits in, if you find some of your .NET applications start hogging all the RAM and/or CPU or just generally aren't as fast as you'd like.

Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
Next Post »