n/a wrote:

> hi, newbie so please be tolerant.... ;)

You can count on it.

> i need to start to learn a programming language to be able to develop
> custom aps to be applied to a variety of purposes but mainly 1) financial
> data modeling--including graphics and data handling via database queries,
> etc.; and 2) more general business-type aps.
> 
> my feeling is that i hate BLOATED sluggish programs (like some Java
> program running on older JVM's and perhaps not written in an optimal
> way....u get the idea.)

I have rather a lot of experience with Java, and it's not easy to avoid the
bloated aspect, if the program has a GUI. The problem is the GUI, not the
code. It is made worse when the GUI code is written in java, nearly always
true.

Ruby, by contrast, uses native-code GUI libraries, so it tends to be faster
as a GUI based language. It is certainly easier to modify and debug than
Java is, because of its transparent syntax.

> if i need to make a choice between fancy and efficient,
> speed, etc., then it's an easy choice 4 me of efficient.
> which is why i have just started w/ c++.

C++ is only efficient when it is running. It is not efficient when you have
a deadline to finish a project and deliver working code.

The basic idea is this -- if the program is only written once and is to be
used by millions of people, then definitely use C++. If the same program is
to be written in a million variations over a period of years and only used
by a handful or people, then definitely Java or Ruby.

The middle cases require more experience to decide. In such cases, I
sometimes prototype in Ruby, because development is so fast, and then
translate the result from Ruby into C++ once I have a working program, so
the delivered program will be fast.

> however, speaking to one my programmer friends who is a top level Java
> programmer (the stuff he writes is very efficient and fancy as
> well--great balance), he is telling me that 1) c++ is being phased out
> (except 4 real low level stuff like drivers, etc.) in favor of languages
> such as Java or Ruby.

This viewpoint would be very difficult to defend. C++ isn't remotely being
phased out. C++ has its niche, as does Java and Ruby, etc. etc..

> he recommends i switch from learning c++ to learning 
> Java or Ruby.

You will most likely learn more about programming in a shorter time by
taking his advice, but remember that the reasoning behind his advice isn't
sound. Both Java and Ruby will show you object-oriented concepts, a "good
thing", and later on, you might want to learn C++ for those applications
that require more speed and/or closer coupling to the machine. C++ is less
object-oriented than either Java or Ruby, which means (IMHO) that the
latter two languages are a better choice for learning programming
principles.

> i wd hope to be able to choose the best path and not have to 
> switch tack in the middle as my IT capablity is not a full time activity,
> but more of a support 4 my main one--finance.

Oh, I thought you were going to become a well-rounded programmer. Oh, well,
in that case, either Ruby or Java will suit your goals much better than C++
would. You will be able to create and maintain 95% of the applications
typical in financial institutions using either Ruby or java, or both.

> 
> of course, learning curve is to be taken into consideration as well....

Your learning curve will be much faster with Ruby or Java than with C++.
Guaranteed. I personally think Ruby and Java are much better tutorial
languages than C++ is.

> 'd love some comments that might help me consider my options and pick a
> path (c++, java or ruby) w/ a higher level of confidence..... i know that
> people here will be biased towards Ruby, but that is fine: i want to hear
> about it....

I don't think you will see much in the way of bias for or against any
particular language, at least from the regular posters here, because most
have come from a background of many other languages.

It's not like we're all Macintosh owners, or Scientologists, or Mensa
members, if you get my drift. :)

-- 
Paul Lutus
http://www.arachnoid.com