Over at The Molecular Ecologist, Mark Christie runs down the considerations to take into account when you’re thinking about making the effort to learn a programming language — he focuses specifically on bioinformatics, but his points really apply for just about anything you’d do with a script.
Perl and Python programs are (typically) compiled each time before they run and they are often not compiled to the same extent as C and C++ (but see PyPy for Python). This means that C and C++ typically run faster and require less memory after a program has been completed. Like most things in life, however, there is a tradeoff in that C and C++ programs usually require more lines of code because there are more details that have to be specified in each program. Thus there is a tradeoff between time spent developing, writing, and debugging code and the time that the program takes to run through completion.
Planning your first bioinformatics project? You should probably go read the whole thing.◼