Old Programming Languages

Introduction

I’ve been wanting to write this article for a very long time. Older languages are still popular and being used on a daily basis for applications big and small. I am a VB6 guy, always been, and probably always will be. I still use it on a regular basis.

I remember when .NET launched. I was so excited to get started, little did I know that Visual Basic.NET would work differently. Not one hundred percent different, but suddenly OOP was a priority and a necessity.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew OOP very well, especially with C++ and Visual C++ 6, but my true love was Visual Basic 6. In my experience, it was just quicker and simpler to do everything I needed to.

Today, I would like to talk about older programming languages in general and why people still use them.

Reason 1: Necessity

The cold, hard fact is that there are thousands of companies still using older technologies. Why? Monetary reasons, I suppose, or the infrastructure of the country or city they live in. This causes many programmers to program on old computers and using old programming languages.

Reason 2: Company Policies

No, this is not an article for Ripley’s Believe it or Not; this is a fact. Some companies are run by the older generation. Older people (I don’t mean to generalize or stereotype here) tend to stick with stuff that works. This includes older mobile technologies, older cars, and older PCs with older operating systems. This makes writing some programs quite difficult because you have to not only cater to newer technologies, but especially concentrate on older tech.

Reason 3: Age of the Programmer

Older programmers (for the most part) simply do not see the necessity in switching to newer and more modern languages. They know what they can do with their brains and their language of choice. Getting them to switch to newer programming languages might prove difficult.

Reason 4: Technology

Yes, I have touched on this earlier, but I am now talking about technology as a whole. If your country or company doesn’t have the proper infrastructure, you will battle to join the masses in adopting newer technologies and programming languages. Yes, you might be able to write a mobile application, or a Web site, but without the latest frameworks and languages, your Web sites, applications, and mobile apps will fall behind.

Reason 5: Personal Choice

Nobody is forcing you to adapt. It is still your choice, but the fact of the matter is that you have to adapt to change, or stay behind. Apologies if the previous sentence sounded a bit harsh. I was also a bit skeptical to change. As I have been saying: I have always been a Visual Basic guy, but I work as a C# developer and couldn’t be happier.

Reason 6: Stubbornness

The title says it all.

Reason 7: Functionality

This can turn into a debate quite rapidly, especially on programming forums. Everybody wants to prove why their language of choice (old or new) is [still] the best. Yes, I get it. With newer technology comes more power and versatility. With a newer version of each language comes more features. This is the nice thing about them.

You have to remember that the .NET Framework is basically twenty years old. In these past two decades, humanity has made giant strides forward. When mobile phones entered the market, they were bulky and couldn’t do much. Now you have smart phones, smart TVs, and automated cars. Artificial Intelligence has also taken huge strides forward.

Reason 8: Neglect

In this situation, programmers want to learn new languages, or make the switch, but due to their employers not enabling them to do that, they simply cannot. Yes, you may say that the programmer can always get another job at a different employer, but now the programmer has to learn the newest languages first, before he or she can enter the job market again.

Reason 9: Amount of Work

Some programmers feel they are in their comfort zones. They simply concentrate on developing Windows-based applications. They do not want to develop Web sites or mobile applications because that becomes more work, more stuff to learn and know, and ultimately more work to do.

Reason 10: Time

I cannot believe I have ten reasons! I initially just wanted to add five…

There never seems to be time to learn newer languages. When you have kids and a wife and dogs and a house to take care off, it can become difficult juggling studies with work at home and at your place of work. Whenever there is time, there is always something else to do: renovations, holidays, fixing cars, taking your dogs to the vet, or personal injuries.

Unfortunately, that is life. But, that is not an excuse. I worked long hours, then, I came home and studied and worked. Yes, I was single back then, but fast forward many years. I still do, although not as often. I still write exams, I still try to learn new things. It is a balance. Now you might say I do not spend enough time with my family. Well, I do, because I do all my studies and most of my work when they are asleep.

Conclusion

Old languages are still quite useful. The trick is to find the balance between the old and new. I hope this article has provided some insight into the life and times of older-generation programmers.

Hannes DuPreez
Ockert J. du Preez is a passionate coder and always willing to learn. He has written hundreds of developer articles over the years detailing his programming quests and adventures. He has written the following books: Visual Studio 2019 In-Depth (BpB Publications) JavaScript for Gurus (BpB Publications) He was the Technical Editor for Professional C++, 5th Edition (Wiley) He was a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for .NET (2008–2017).

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