In the past strange year, we’ve spent less time looking out and more time looking inward—or at least we’ve spent more time with ourselves. For those of us stuck at home finding projects to occupy our time (or allow us momentary breaks from childcare), self-improvement has been the name of the game. For many, that may have even included learning a new programming language.
Choosing which language to pick up next is a personal and sometimes labyrinthine process: it can come on the back of a trend in software development, or it can come out of the combined elements of interest, need, and even community. You may want a high-level language, a functional language, or simply something that will do just what you want it to when you need it most. The choices can be as personal as they are varied.
Still, even if the reasoning behind learning a language is deeply personal, the benefits of learning a second language fall into clear categories. Programmers learn a new language in order to take advantage of new libraries, use new hardware, achieve new programming capabilities, or even gain a broader understanding and perspective on programming choices.
This year, we examine how each of these categories has been influenced by trends in software development and in the new features being added to the languages themselves, and how this might influence your choices of what new languages to pick up in 2021.