Blog articles

5 alternatives for dreaded programming languages


There are some dreaded programming languages out there. But you'd be happy to know you have options. We've paired the most dreaded programming languages today with alternatives suggested by our experts. 

Dreaded: Visual Basic 6

It’s not surprising that this legacy language, originally built for beginners, is dreaded by many developers. Lack of tooling, the difficulty of making changes and the clutter built as you add to the program can turn experienced developers away.

Recommended: Python

With a sleeker syntax that is less verbose, Python is a great alternative. It runs on more operating systems and, while it’s friendly for beginners, experienced developers appreciate its ability to solve complex problems. And, with PyPi, an enormous library of free software solutions you can use immediately, as well as resources for questions—Python could be a perfect change. 



Dreaded: Cobol

Many developers find the lack of user defined functions difficult when using Cobol, as well as aspects such as how the language handles addresses. Additionally, there is no ‘typing’ to differentiate specific types of data, so the developer isn’t forced to specify what they want––which can be a great way to detect mistakes ahead of time.

Recommended: Java

Java’s enterprise-focused ecosystem makes it a good choice to replace Cobol skills in the workforce. So for developers working in larger companies, this is a big reason to move to Java. Also, Java’s maturity and stability make it easy to work with, especially for devs who are used to Cobol, which hasn’t changed in decades. 



Dreaded: CoffeeScript

Like Perl with fewer characters, CoffeeScript has an overly concise syntax, making it challenging to read. Then, it’s compiled into a second interpreted language (JavaScript), rather than to an immediately executable form (which equals more time spent). 

Recommended: JavaScript 

Why not just use JavaScript when CoffeeScript is already compiling it’s syntax into that language? While JavaScript is not the simplest language, there is no reason to avoid learning it. JavaScript runtimes have dramatically improved in recent years, and it’s cross-platform and multi-purposes abilities make it versatile and common. 



Dreaded: VB.NET

With VB.NET’s sparse developer ecosystem, in comparison to other .NET languages, it’s easy to see why devs want to avoid VB.NET. Much like Visual Basic 6, this legacy language isn’t always the easiest language to nail down, or to build upon.

Recommended: C#

C# is a great language to use instead of VB.NET, because is has a far richer tooling and ecosystem support, as well as cross-platform options. And, with Microsoft investing in C# far wider than VB, it is an easy choice to make the switch.



Dreaded: VBA

If you want to feel boxed in, VBA can certainly make you feel that way. Usable only inside a specific application like Microsoft Word or Excel, it’s a closed environment. Not to mention, the developer tooling, documentation, and examples are not optimal. With little relevance to other language or ecosystems, your skills here will not travel far.

Recommended: Python 

If you want your skills to carry beyond the application you’re working with, again Python is a great way to go. Python can automate any application where VBA is available. You can also leverage a wealth of other resources inside of Python, such as data access libraries or image processing packages. And to top it off, you’ll get a mature language, tooling and community. 



What languages are gaining popularity out there? And what are starting to cool off? See the trends on the Pluralsight Technology Index.