If you aren’t a software developer, I imagine that the concept of different software languages must look very strange. This article outlines the main decision points I go through when choosing a software language for a project.
In the purest sense, a software language defines a particular set of structures and grammar to write software.
While you might wonder why we need more than 1 for this – it is mostly about control vs productivity.
A low-level systems language like C will give you a lot of control – but it means you spend time micromanaging the software instead of solving the problem at hand. It also makes it easier to create certain types of bugs in the low level details.
A higher level language like LabVIEW or Python instead tends to offer higher productivity as a trade-off for less control.
When the problem is well understood, and performance isn’t critical; this is a valuable trade-off. The web is generally built on these higher-level languages because the issues are well understood, and you can create products so quickly.
The other factor to a language is a particular style or approach to describing a program in it. This style may suit specific applications, or some developers may have a preference for one over another.
Around the core language though there is an ecosystem of developers, training and software libraries. This ecosystem is what will often drive languages into particular application areas.
For example, Python as a pure language isn’t a natural choice for heavy number-crunching. But it has been heavily used in data science for years, and there are dozens of frameworks and hundreds of libraries to support this use case mean you often have to write less code and can find support easily. This ecosystem means it is now the dominant language in this area.
LabVIEW is all about interfacing to the physical world. Not because the language necessarily has an advantage in this area, but because of the broad ecosystem of drivers and interfaces, it can support.
The final factor I often consider is where it is going to run. The deployment target is another factor that can drive language choice (although the differences tend to be more subtle).
LabVIEW is excellent on the desktop or National Instruments hardware, but if you want to target other industrial equipment, you may have to look to other languages again.
I’m afraid I’m still not going to give you a single right answer for this. Choosing a software language for a project depends on what your customer requires from your application. Many are interchangeable as well, and sometimes the right language is just the one that you and your developer are comfortable using.
At Wiresmith Technology, I focus on a few languages:
I hope that helps you understand what you must consider to make a decision (even if it doesn’t give an answer!). Feel free to post questions below or get in touch.
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