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Which [X] Should I Use?

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What {programming language | API | toolkit | operating system | etc. } should I use?

A fairly frequent source of discussion in the General Programming forum is the infamous "X vs. Y" thread. Put simply, this type of thread is basically asking which option the poster should choose out of a list of options. Sometimes it's more like "X vs. Y vs. Z vs. Q vs. ..." but the general format is almost always the same.

The Good News
On the positive side, you're likely to get a very large number of responses, all with varying opinions and perspectives. So if you're looking for more information to digest, this will work out nicely!

The Bad News
On the negative side, you're likely to get a very large number of responses, all with varying opinions and perspectives. So if you're looking for someone else to make a decision for you, this is probably not going to end so well.

Answer #1: It Depends
There is a common pattern in the "X vs. Y" threads: those with the most experience and perspective to offer tend to answer with "it depends." It depends on your desires, your own previous experiences, your current skill level, your ultimate goals, your resources, your motivations, and so on. Note that all these "dependencies" focus on you. This means that the person who is most informed to make the decision is yourself! Whether you feel like it or not, you know your own situation better than anyone else in the thread, so it ultimately comes down to you settling on something. The best anyone can offer you is some generalized guidance based on the context you provide.

Because of this, if you absolutely must ask an "X vs. Y" question, please provide the following:
  • What research you have done on your own (doing some of your own footwork is mandatory)
  • How much experience you have in the subject matter
  • Any relevant skills/experience you have in related options
  • What you are trying to accomplish
  • How much time/money/effort you are willing to invest

    Answer #2: It Doesn't Matter
    This is typically the correct answer for "what language should I learn" or "what should I do next" type posts. In reality, there are innumerable options open to you, and the magic of programming is that you can choose any of them that you like. Nothing is stopping you or holding you back, so go with your gut: do what seems most appealing and interesting and rewarding. If it stops being appealing, interesting, or rewarding, feel free to switch gears.

    At the end of the day, what matters is that you're doing something you enjoy and find fulfilling. If you're miserable, you chose wrong, no matter how many "internet experts" told you to do whatever it is you're doing. So aim to have fun. Use your imagination, chase something that looks exciting, and stretch yourself as much as you comfortably can without getting in over your head.

    Keep things balanced and keep enjoying yourself, and everything will work out fine in the end.
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