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Should my friend choose C++ or Visual Basic as part of his degree?

By sterghe ·
I have an acquaintance who's going back to college at age 34 for a degree in computer science/programming. He has to choose between studying C++ or Visual Basic when he starts out. Neither option mentions C# or .Net. He asked for my opinion on which to choose. After graduation, he hopes to get an entry-level programming job in Pennsylvania. He's not picky about what he'd take, but he does have interests in auto engineering (not really happening here as far as I know) and video game design.

I do end-user training, not software development of any kind, so I don't have a good answer for him. But, I know someone here will have better insight. What do you think? Should he focus on C++ or Visual Basic at this time, since he can only choose one right now?

Thank you in advance!

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It all depends on his intended direction in life

by Phil Emerson In reply to Should my friend choose C ...

I can happily recommend both choices if he's new to programming. Both languages will enable him to learn programming structures and logical program flow.

If the college is still using Visual Basic 6 (i.e. NOT .NET) then I would recommend that he choose the C++ route. Why? Because while VB6 does offer a full range of programming structures, they are less similar to more modern languages.

In my experience, C# and VB.NET seem to lean more towards the C++ style of programming structures and I have to say - Visual Studio is all the better for it. It's so easy to jump between C#, VB.NET and C++ now, once you learn the subtle differences between the languages.

An argument against C++ is that the learning will usually be more focused on console programming - so all of your friend's programs will run on the command line, not using the windows that he's probably more used to.

Because VB is primarily an event-driven programming language that relies on events from windows controls, the beginner will be creating windows programs right from the start.

Personally, I think starting with C++ will ultimately make your friend a better programmer because he'll be required to learn the basics of programming that he can then build upon. I feel that starting with Visual Basic can often hide some of the programming fundamentals that every programmer should know.

One final note - learning C++ as a first programming language will probably be harder than VB but if he's committed to studying outside of the classroom this shouldn't be a problem.

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Creating a Foundation

by tokposman In reply to Should my friend choose C ...

C++ is the way to go. Visual Basic tends to be Microsoft oriented; C++ is generic. It is also similar to Java which is what makes the web go round, making Java easier to learn. I've coded in both for years. VB has suffered the most change as MS has morphed the basic language into a .NET tool. It now bears little resemblance to classical Basic. Sticking to generic languages like C++, Fortran, etc. will help mitigate the impact of the atmosphere of change.

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