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Choosing which programming language to use April 6, 2007

Posted by Daniel Gardner in Business Thoughts.

I have been guilty of saying on many occasions “this should be written in <Insert programming language here>” before I had the information required to make an informed decision as have many others I am sure, my reasons for doing this vary but I think my main reasons have been I have been insecure about the alternative language choices, had bad experiences with the alternate languages or most often just wanting to go with what is familiar to me.

Something I have come to learn though is that in business rational decisions need to be made and this includes taking due diligence in deciding on the best language to use for a particular project.

Now it should be noted that I am not speaking about programming for pleasure, if the application is being written for personal development or fun using a new or more challenging language may be the right option but I am talking about large business projects here.

I don’t think there is any magic formula or a cut and dry way for deciding what language to use but by answering a list of questions for each language (or worst case thinking about each in your head) it will force you to think about it more rationally and allow you to make a better decision, if I had to have 5 questions that I would ask about each language they would be:
1. Timeframe
– Can the be completed within the required timeframe (Be pessimistic)?
2. Budget – Will the budget allow for the cost of development in the timeframe?
3. Trade-off’s – Are there certain features that cannot be implemented?
4. Experience – Does the team hold the experience to implement?
5. Maintainability – Will it be easy to maintain after it is created?

This is probably a bit of overkill and this may be in your project plan already but at least (especially if you have a manager) you have covered your ass and can justify your decision 😛



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