Is "not fun" a reason to not like a programming language?

Software code on computer screen
There are entire screeds on the Internet devoted to why engineers hate particular languages and how terrible they are to learn and to use. Not fun isn't usually a feature they discuss.

Most people would agree that the online recruiter Hired.com has a unique visibility into the entire hiring process, operating as a matchmaker for tens of thousands of companies and job seekers.

In addition to connecting employers and prospective employees, it uses the insight it gains from the data and presumably some custom surveys to generate a series of “state of” reports on different disciplines.

Its recent “2020 State of Software Engineers” has some good data on the hottest jobs in software engineering, the types of skills most in demand, and salary trends. (Spoiler alert: Salaries are highest in Silicon Valley.) Of course, since the report was published pre-COVID-19, some of the data may not be as applicable, but the overall trending information is useful.

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One point that the report makes is that software engineers genuinely love their careers. In fact, Hired.com says that more than half (53%) of the engineers they surveyed said that the primary motivation for learning a new programming language is because they enjoy it. And that 34% of software engineers contribute to open source software because “it’s fun.” That sounds plausible.

But the one chart (see below) that caused a bit of a “Hmmm” is the one that lists the factors that influence an engineer’s language preference. In particular, the reason most cited by engineers to not love a language: “It’s not fun to program in.”

Programming languages chart

In our experience, the typical reasons not to love a programming language are more typically of the form:

“I don’t like languages that seem to be designed for frustration. When it says you should be able to do something and it doesn’t.”

“It overcomplicates even the simplest of things.”

“It is so terrible I would rather stick pins in my eyes than use it.”

“[insert programming language here] sucks because it is a mis-guided, poorly designed pile of crap.”

In fact, one can find entire screeds on the Internet devoted to why engineers hate particular languages and they mostly discuss how terrible they are to learn and to use.

It seems like most engineers would simply be happy to not have to fight a programming language and just get things to work more easily in the ways they are (or seem to be) intended to work. The concept of “not fun” doesn’t appear to factor in, unless you equate that with "worse than sticking pins in your eyes".

Just for the record, the report lists the least loved coding languages, which are:

#1 Ruby

#2 PHP

#3 Objective-C

Apparently, they aren’t, well, fun.

RELATED: Call for Code asks developers to write open software around COVID-19 challenges

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