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In the computer science world, technologies are constantly changing and programmers have to continuously learn new skills in order to adapt. Within the decade, many new programming languages have emerged to rival the old. So what languages and tools should you learn, given that by the time you’re done with college, the tech world will likely have considerably changed?

Here are some suggestions.

1. Github

A Github account is a must-have for anyone who does any form of coding. Github is a code hosting platform for version control and collaboration (and also a social networking site for coders). For a free account, you can have an unlimited number of public repositories in which others can contribute to. Github enables others to make changes to code without the risk of completely butchering up all of your previous efforts.

What happens is a contributor can make a new branch from the master branch. This new branch would hold all of that person’s changes. The branch can be merged with the master branch in order to update the original code with those changes. There is, of course, much more to Github (and Git) for that matter and in in a world where more and more technologies are open source and products of collaboration, Github is a lifesaver.

2. Python

Python is a beautiful language. With less syntactic baggage than languages like Java, Python reads fluently for new and old coders. However, the main reason why Python is a great language is not so much for its linguistic charm than it is for the numerous, clear, and straightforward third party modules that Python provides. These modules include functions such as web scraping, automation, and file manipulation.

One particularly worthy of mention is Bokeh, an open source library that enables users to create data visualizations through various types of graphs. Bokeh is at a much higher level than visualization tools such as the Javascript’s d3. Bokeh is much more user friendly and contains much of the inner workings and functionality in a black box, perfect for people who want to create data visualizations without the extra effort of learning the quirks of Javascript.

3. JavaScript

That being said, Javascript is still the language of the web. And according to Atwood’s Law, any application that can be written in JavaScript, will eventually be written in JavaScript. JavaScript is critical for anyone who wants to learn front end development or more design-oriented coding. However, I’d also deem it important for most all other types of programmers simply because many applications built are intended to go on the web, and some type of understanding of JavaScript is necessary.

4. Ruby on Rails

Ruby itself is a very reader friendly language in that it reads almost like the human language. Rails is a framework that provides structure for a database, web service, and web pages. Together they form a powerful system with some useful functionality. Ruby on Rails is perfect for startups or anyone who wants to get an application built quickly. It possesses tools called gems, which are essentially snippets of code that have already been written to do something. That way, the coder never has to repeat him or herself.

5. Command Line / Terminal

No matter what kind of fancy text editor or IDE you have, know how to use your terminal or command line is key. This is the parallel of speaking to your computer face to face, without any fancy interfaces. Knowing simple commands for the command line can do wonders in finding files in a sea of folders and directories.

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the author

Lucy Zhang attends Duke University and is majoring in electrical and computer engineering. Her passions include watching anime, sleeping, and writing the occasional article or two when productivity levels are high enough.

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