4 Programming Languages You Should Learn Right Now (eClinical Speaking)

I am a strong believer that learning a new language makes you better at the others, but I am not a “learn to code” advocate since a foreign language (I know 3 languages and currently learning my 4th and I have a “to learn” language including Italian and Arabic, if I ever find some free time) or even music (I love to play drums) are equally beneficial. But if you want to obtain a job in the pharmaceutical industry, here are the list of programming languages you should learn:

  1. C#:

What it is: A general-purpose, compiled, object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft as part of its .NET initiative.

Why you should learn it: If you are looking to become a Medidata Custom Function programmer or Oracle InForm EDC Developer then you should.

2. Python:

What it is: An interpreted, dynamically object-oriented, open-source programming language that utilizes automatic memory management.

Why you should learn it: If you are like me always looking to learn new technology, love Google platforms and perhaps want to become a Timaeus Trial Builder, you should learn it. It is used on a lot open-source technologies.

Everyone should learn to code

3. PL/SQL or SQL:

What it is: PL/SQL stands for Procedural Language/SQL.

Why you should learn it: If you are like me additive to databases then Oracle should be your choice. If you want to become an Oracle Clinical programmer or Database administrator, you should learn Oracle PL/SQL.

4- SAS

What it is: SAS stands for “Statistical Analysis System” (software). It is the most powerful and comprehensive statistics software available.

Why you should learn it: SAS skills are in high demand nowadays. If you are able to obtain the SAS Certification and a few years of experience in the Pharmaceutical industry, you will be in good shape. If you are new and looking for training there are several options available from SAS Institute to private vendors such as Clinovo to even learning on your own. I most warn you as it will be difficult to obtain a job without experience. Nevertheless, once you are in, it can only get better.

Remember that your job is not just to code but to solve real problems. Your ability to code covers a lot of range of skills: from critical thinking, problem analysis & solving, logic, etc.

So which one are you going to give a try?

Let me know what is your preference. Happy Programming!

The best thing about a boolean is even if you are wrong, you are only off by a bit.(Anonymous)

Anayansi Gamboa has an extensive background in clinical data management as well as experience with different EDC systems including Oracle InForm, InForm Architect, Central Designer, CIS, Clintrial, Medidata Rave, Central Coding, OpenClinica Open Source and Oracle Clinical.

Disclaimer: The legal entity on this blog is registered as Doing Business As (DBA) – Trade Name – Fictitious Name – Assumed Name as “GAMBOA”.

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7 thoughts on “4 Programming Languages You Should Learn Right Now (eClinical Speaking)”

  1. One of the things I would like to see die out is the need to do programming in order to run a clinical trial. In a typical Inform or Rave study, you might need some C# and SAS. In Oracle Clinical you need lots of SQL-PL/SQL. If I want to run a trial, I don’t want to have to go find a C# or SQL programmer. I don’t think I should need to. The tools should do a better job at removing the need for programming in ‘ALL’ instances where a clinical trial runs.

    As far as software development – that is a different question –

    Of the 4 you have gone for, I like Python. However, I would suggest that all 4 of these languages have seen better times. PL/SQL & SQL I personally dislike despite the fact that I have worked with them often over the years. So much development time is still wasted in creating SQL text strings… We can do a lot more with NoSQL databases now. They align to business better, and the code required to work with them is less verbose.

    Ruby is a nice language, that becomes better with the Rails framework. It generally simplifies the Database interaction. It is also pretty good at the front end support. Unfortunately, it applies MVC principles, and these become too abstract in many implementations for regular programmers.

    Scala is an improvement over Java… it is gaining ground with LinkedIn switching to as a development language.

    However, I have not seen a really good language for many years. IMHO, most languages present themselves like puzzles to massage the ego of the skilled developer. If only the principles of simplicity and clarity that have been applied to User Interfaces and Experiences could be applied to the creation of a software syntax.

    1. Interesting point of view. I agree on most of what you have said. Not everyone should be programming. I am currently leaning Python and I found it a very easy language to learn. I used to enjoy Oracle /PLSQL but now that I’m using other technologies it feels nice, sometimes, not be spend my day programming.

      Needless to say, you do get better at programming over time. I have been building up my expertise for the last couple of year. It is enjoyable to know that your expertise is valuable to some.

      Ruby on Rails is very popular. I don’t know anything about it but for what I have read, it could be the programming of choice for many. I am wondering how many EDC tools could utilize some of this new technology/development tools? Current EDC systems are still well behind technology and we no longer are needed as programmer. Most of the work involved documentation and following processes and not so much programming.

      When I first started in this industry, EDC was ‘the new kid on the block’ yet 10 years later, we are still struggling to build clinical trials. EDC clinical trials technology has changed over the past few years so I expect soon clinical apps and clouds to be the new kid on this block.

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