Former CNET developers Dan Seewer and Kevin Cobb square off on which programming languages sit atop the development mountain and which languages may be vying for that position. Dan has more than 17 years of experience in software development, including Perl, C, Java, and C#. Kevin has more than five years of experience and is a Sun-certified Java programmer. What, in your opinion, will be the “must-know” development language over the next two years?

Kevin: COBOL (LOL).

Dan: I’ve thought about this subject quite a bit, and I’m not sure where to take this. I really haven’t seen or heard of many new languages on the rise. But I think there are areas that are finally starting to get some traction. For instance, XML, XSL, and XSLT are becoming resume requirements.

Kevin: I think that Web development (not really language-specific) will see a big jump in the next five years. When you talk about Web development, you’re talking about Java or ASP (.NET).

Dan: There are other “splinter” areas to consider, such as open source movements PHP and Zope.

Kevin: But I’m talking about the big push, not the smaller, holdout areas, which there will always be some of. Web development is a powerful, relatively cheap and quick way to develop large-scale applications.

Dan: I agree with Kevin that Web development will only get bigger and more prevalent in the next few years.

Kevin: But I think that [Zope and PHP] languages lag so far behind JSP/ASP that they won’t touch this area. Of course, maybe we’re biased because we just happen to be Web developers.

Dan: You’ll always have people in our industry looking for nonmainstream ways to develop applications. Also, I wouldn’t be so uppity thinking that the mainstream is far better than the outlying areas. The mainstream will probably pay better, but the outlying areas allow for new creativity that really drives our profession. How’s that for some deep thinking?

Kevin: That’s not my perspective; it only upholds my argument that ASP/JSP will be solidified as the Web dev languages that far outpace the others because they’re so far advanced, including security issues. I do, however, agree with your statement about outlying areas allowing for new creativity, which drives our profession. Some have suggested that recent fumbles by Microsoft regarding .NET have detracted from VB.NET and C#. Do you agree, and does this affect which languages are used?

Kevin: I don’t think so. Microsoft shops will stay Microsoft and will eventually leverage the power of VB.NET, while Java shops will most likely stay Java and leverage that area.

Dan: It seems that people enjoy finding holes in the Microsoft stuff just to keep embarrassing Microsoft. As Kevin stated, it isn’t going to scare away people who operate pure Microsoft shops. And you two don’t foresee an end to the Java vs. Microsoft feud on the horizon?

Dan: Absolutely not.

Kevin: No way. Now let’s go back to niche development. The new UNIX-based Mac OS X has some heads turning on the consumer end. Have developers noticed, and should they?

Kevin: I haven’t noticed. In my opinion, something like that takes awhile to hit the development world.

Dan: I recently spoke with a longtime Mac OS fanatic, and he loves the new OS and development tools. But I don’t think it will be enough to turn people into Mac developers. It’s funny—for the most part, people are loyal to their wallets. You can’t find many development jobs for the Mac OS X now. I think you’ll find enthusiasts developing in their spare time for the platform.

Say what?

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