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Programming Languages: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly (III)

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Dominik Keller
Sep 16th, 2021

Programming Languages: The Ugly

This is part III of our three-part series: Programming Languages: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly. For Part I on good programming languages, and Part II on bad programming languages, check out our previous blog post.

What is an ugly programming language? In our post on bad programming languages, we have already covered the most dreaded programming languages. However, as explained, these were typically programming languages that went out-of-fashion, but are still surprisingly prevalent because of their past popularity. This is why calling them “bad” is a little bit of a misnomer. Rather, these languages have served their purpose, and software engineering and application complexity have evolved.

The Ugly

How can we find the “the ugly” amongst the world’s more than 700 programming languages? Usually, rankings of programming languages are more concerned with their popularity, difficulty, or how much they fetch in the job market.

To find the “ugly”, we decided to look at a different variable: which programming languages inspire the most swearing? As the joke goes: “Profanity. The language every developer knows”.

According to an analysis of Reddit comments, the result is that PHP developers are the most foul-mouthed:

“PHP users curse the most out of all developers. Java and Java Script users follow close behind, but are still nowhere near as foul-mouthed as those profane PHP developers.”

Why does PHP inspire so much cursing? PHP is a programming language primarily used in web development. At the time of its creation in 1994, PHP stood for personal home page. It was not intended to be a programming language. It only later evolved into a programming language. And only since 2014 did it come with formal standards and specifications. Now the acronym stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. Over 244 million websites use it.

Many people criticize it as inconsistent, opaque, and difficult to debug. It typically ranks quite low in popularity amongst developers. In addition, “PHP developers are disproportionately underpaid compared to other languages with the same experience”, according to a 2021 survey of developers published by the developer community StackOverflow.

Could there be a connection? Maybe it’s not so much PHP’s syntax that makes developers curse. Maybe they are foul-mouthed because of their relatively low pay.

Whatever the reason might be, if you wish to pick up web development, have not lost your nerves, and want to make a living by doing so, maybe consider other languages first. Or, of course, try low-code!

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