If you’re starting in software development, it can be challenging to determine where you should begin.
There are hundreds of commonly used programming languages, each with unique complexities.
However, as you enter into the world of software development, you’ll be able to figure out which programming language suits you, your interests, and your career goals best.
Similar to English, which is known as the international language of business, and French, which is the language of love, different programming languages will work for different goals. Before selecting the right language, you should know the answers to the following questions:
- What type of projects will you be working on?
- Do you have background knowledge in mathematics or logic that may assist your learning process?
- Is your interest in learning a complex language that is more versatile and contains certain concepts in abstract form, or would you instead learn a more straightforward language that contains less abstraction and is “close to the hardware”?
- If you’re focused on web development, is your preference to work on the front or back end?
- Is your goal to go freelance, join an established company, or work for a startup? Or do you want to become more efficient at your current position?
Within the list included below, we cover the programming languages that are the most popular for instances such as web development, mobile development, game development, and more. After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which programming languages best suit your needs and bring you the most benefits.
Due to it being a general-purpose language, Java has been consistently used by computer programmers for over 20 years. This can be contributed to its “write once, run anywhere” philosophy. Technically, it’s possible to write Java software on any device, compile it into simple machine code, and then execute it on any platform equipped with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This makes Java extremely compatible across platforms.
Additionally, Java is the basis for the Android operating system and the most commonly used language for the development of Android apps. The language is preferred by enterprises too, with around 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies using Java to build applications and back end systems. Furthermore, the Apache Hadoop data processing system, which is run by Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure, is written in Java.
Java’s versatility allows it to be a common language for beginners to learn, and be included in numerous introductory programming courses.
If you’re interested in learning about mobile app development, specifically within Apple, you might want to start with Swift. Introduced by Apple in 2014, Swift is a relatively new programming language used to develop iOS and macOS applications. According to Github’s State of the Octoverse Report, Swift has experienced rapid growth, ranking 13 on the list of most popular languages by the pull request.
Swift is employed by developers whose focus is powerful, high-functioning, native iOS, macOS, and Linux apps. Swift was created to be a more efficient, more streamlined, and less bug-prone version of its predecessor, Objective-C, which is now seen as dated by developers.
Becoming proficient in Swift can be beneficial to beginning software engineers. Not only is iOS used by every iPhone and iPad, but it’s also the foundation of operating systems such as watchOS (for Apple Watches) and tvOS (for Apple TVs). Furthermore, Apple will likely remain a tech industry leader; iOS apps continue to be highly profitable within the mobile app marketplace.
Python may be the most user-friendly programming language on this list; its syntax is widely considered to be intuitive and almost English-like, which, similar to Java, makes it popular for use among beginners.
Another aspect Python share with Java is a variety of applications that make it a comprehensive option for choosing the programming language most suited for you. For example, if your focus is back-end web development, then the open-source Django framework, written in Python, is popular, simple to learn, and has many features.
Python also includes packages such as NumPy and SciPy that are frequently used within scientific computing, mathematics, and engineering. Other Python libraries such as TensorFlow, PyTorch, scikit-learn, and OpenCV are employed for programs in data science, machine learning, image processing, and computer vision. Python’s science and data applications establish it as a good choice for the academically inclined.
C is an older programming language that remains prevalent to this day. Ever since its introduction in the 1970s, C has significantly influenced the computer programming landscape, despite its steep learning curve.
Multiple languages within the C family have either been based on C or vastly influenced by its syntax, constructs, and paradigms. These languages include Java, Objective-C, and C#, also featured in this article.
Due to its ability to get you extremely close to the inner workings of the computer, C is a popular choice for creating specialized, complex applications. C is the foundation for the Linux operating system and is often used to program embedded systems.
One of the most direct derivations of C is the C++ programming language. Because it’s based on C, C++ has many of the same benefits, but C++ is object-oriented and therefore a better option to create more complex applications. C++ is most often used for video games, computer graphics, and virtual reality.
6. C #
Similar to C++, C# (C Sharp) is a multipurpose language that is another variant of the foundation of C. Built by Microsoft, this language is important for developing applications for the company’s native platforms. Since C# is quite similar in syntax to other C-derived languages, it is fairly easy to pick up if you are familiar with any other language in that family.
Although C# is mostly popular for developing Microsoft apps, it is also the most used language for developers who use the Xamarin platform. This platform is especially beneficial, as it can work with both iOS and Android. Rather than writing the iOS-compatible version of an app in one platform and the android compatible version in another, you can simply write one version using C# in Xamarin and then deploy to both types of devices.
In addition to Microsoft and Xamarin, C# will also be useful to anyone interested in VR development, as it is the recommended language to build both 3D and 2D video games.
PHP is a server-side scripting language used by tech giants such as Wikipedia, Yahoo, and even Facebook. It’s known to power over 80% of all websites, making it a reliable option for web developers.
With the ability to be embedded with many template systems, PHP is compatible with many other programs to enhance the performance of your website. It can enhance the functionality of HTML webpages specifically. More than just performance, PHP is also great for creating cookies, displaying dynamic images, collecting data, as well as verifying data. It even offers a variety of frameworks to help with the strength and security of applications.
With so many uses, PHP is the language to learn if you want to pursue a career as a freelance web developer. Job availability will always be more stable with the knowledge of PHP as well since so many websites depend on it to run.
Although Rust is not as well known or popular as major programming languages such as Python, it still definitely is a valuable language to add to your toolkit. Those who know and use it place it at the top of the list as their favorite language to use in software developing.
While Mozilla developed this language intending for lower level use, Rust emphasizes safety and security in the world of coding that isn’t highlighted as prominently in the other languages. In addition to security, Rust also prioritizes speed, which makes it a valuable language for any software developer. Many large tech companies are starting to integrate it internally. Although it is a bit more tedious to learn, Rust programming can pay off well due to its projected rising popularity in the future.
Ruby is yet another web development language that is the basis for the Ruby on Rails web application framework. Known for its user-friendly reputation and helpful community, Ruby is a sure bet for beginners in the industry.
In addition to the simple syntax and user-friendly atmosphere, Ruby has great connections with huge tech businesses including Bloomberg, Twitter, and Airbnb. With amazing support and connections, Ruby is a great language to add to your collection.
Developed and maintained by Google, Go is a relatively easy language with straightforward, clean syntax. Great for multitasking, clarity, and developing unique code, Go is a rising superstar in coding languages.
Furthermore, companies such as Intel, IBM, and BBC have already begun to use the Go programming language, and it is a great tool to add to your list as a software developer.
With so many coding languages available to choose from, it’s important to look into important factors past popularity and trend contests. The languages above show great potential not just for 2019, but for future years as well. Here is a summary of which coding languages to learn for your specific purpose:
- Game design: C#, C++
- Mobile development: Java, C#, Swift, Go
- Desktop: C++, Python, Java
- Systems: C, Rust
Of course, with so much versatility in coding, you should explore beyond just a few languages. Try out the ones on our list, but if you don’t find a good fit for you, go on to explore the world of programming languages for yourself! If you are interested in tech opportunities, check out Skillgigs for more helpful information and join the Skillgigs Marketplace signup here.