It’s not that surprising to say that we already live in a digital age for quite some time. Everywhere you look nowadays, electronic devices can be found. We use them on a daily basis, and they undeniably make our lives easier. But only some of us are really interested in knowing how these devices work and what makes them unique. In short, the answer is: the programmer. They’re the ones who make things work, when you go online to check the news or call a cab in the pouring rain with the latest taxi app. And as every plant needs water so it can grow, every programmer needs programming languages, so they can develop fully working applications for everyone’s pleasure.
As there are tons of different languages and their offshoots out there, it might be difficult, especially for a beginner, to choose the right one(s). Of course, it depends on what you really want to do – is it frontend, backend, mobile applications or something entirely different? There are no limits, and if you, for example, want to do full-stack, you’ll have to go through more languages overall. But as the saying goes: The more languages you know, the more human you are. Or, in this case, the more programming languages you know, the easier it gets. So let’s have a look at the most attractive programming languages that you can learn and work with in 2019.
Moving to the backend area, let’s talk about PHP or Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP has also been on the market since the mid-1990s and is still widely used today, after going through multiple evolutions. It was designed specifically for web applications which are more elaborate than simple, stand-alone programs. To be precise, there are three areas where PHP scripts are used: server-side scripting, command-line scripting and writing desktop applications.
The main advantages of working with PHP include: the freedom of choosing an operating system and a web server; its support for a wide range of databases; and a large community of PHP developers out there, who are ready to help. Although not the easiest language to learn, many famous websites like WordPress or Facebook still work on PHP, which only proves its usefulness and popularity.
Speaking about PHP, we definitely can’t leave Python out. It’s probably best-known for its code readability and recognized as one of the languages to learn first, especially for the beginners. Primarily used for backend web development, it has eventually found its way into Data Science or AI. Building web applications and tools in Python is easier and quicker, compared to other well-known languages, and it’s even more popular than Java or PHP nowadays.
There are even more advantages of using Python than PHP. It runs on any platform, ranging from Windows to Linux to MacOS, has an array of frameworks for developing websites (including built-in testing frameworks that cover debugging), can also be used as a scripting language and last but not least, Python engineers have some of the highest salaries in the industry. And that’s only a few pros of this language, but the rest is up to anyone who wants to dig deeper in Python. There’s just no excuse not to go for it!
Java is recognized as a very stable, object-oriented language used widely in web development and Android app development. It’s also considered to be easy to learn, which makes it a wise choice for beginners and generally for anyone looking for a job in large enterprises. With many updated versions (latest being Java 12) and millions of developers using it to this day, Java still remains one of the most reliable and flexible programming languages.
One of the oldest and still widely used languages is C, which first appeared in the early 1970s, followed by its extension called C++. Some say they represent the cornerstone of all programming languages, and despite their age, they’re still used today. Especially C++—an enhanced version of C—which adds support for object-oriented programming and contains many improvements and features, and is therefore favoured more than its predecessor.
Learning C/C++ will help you understand how software and hardware really interact, but keep in mind that to do software development, knowing just C isn’t enough. C++ simply offers many paradigm choices, supports both static and dynamic type checking, has incredible library support and is overall stable and one of the fastest languages in the world, if optimized. For all system-level programmers, C/C++ is just the right choice.
Developed by Microsoft in 2000 as a principal language of the .NET framework, C# (pronounced “C sharp”) was a modern, general-purpose language in the time of its release. As the title suggests, it is based on C and C++, which makes it easier to learn for anyone already working with these two older languages. C# supports functional, object-oriented, and component-oriented programming and its goals were mainly durability and programmer productivity.
C# is a high-level language and it’s also very similar to Java syntactically, making it easier to learn for users who already have knowledge of Java or aforementioned C or C++. It’s widely used for developing web applications and desktop applications, but also games and virtual reality, which makes it attractive to different kinds of developers. However, C# is more complex than simpler languages like Python, and beginners should be aware of that before choosing it as their preferred language.
Short for Structured Query Language, SQL’s most important feature is to manage data structures and information stored in databases, and overall take care of their solidity and integrity. Compared to imperative programming languages like C, SQL is a set-based, declarative programming language, which means it expresses the logic of a computation without describing its control flow and simplifies writing parallel programs.
There are different extensions of SQL language (e.g. SQL Server, MySQL, T-SQL), but they all support at least the major commands in a similar manner. SQL also became a standard of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1986, and of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1987. Simply put, it’s the right choice for keeping the data proper and secure.
The great advantage of coding with Ruby is the fact that it’s an object-oriented, very high-level language. It means that it can handle many intricate details, and therefore help programmers to build apps quickly and with fewer lines of code. Ruby was designed with an emphasis on simplicity and that’s also the reason why it’s a favourite choice of startups and beginners. You can easily test your ideas and try new things without being too strict in your coding, which makes it one of the more fun-to-use languages.
Ruby was widely used to make games, but it’s flexible enough to make applications, web servers, backups and other. We should also mention Ruby on Rails, which is a full-stack web framework built on top of Ruby, used specifically for web development. To add more value, Ruby on Rails has many gems and tools that help with development, and that allows small teams to write big applications.
With iOS being the second most popular operating system in the world (right after Android), Swift as a programming language for iOS and Mac OS is still among the top languages to master. Created by Apple in 2014, Swift acquired a large supportive community which is still growing. According to the official website, it is “compiled and optimized to get the most out of modern hardware“, and therefore “code is not just easier to write, but easier to read and maintain as well”.
As its name suggests, this language was indeed designed to be swift. The key attributes of Swift were always performance and speed, with alternative ways to optimize Swift code for even better performance. Safety is also an important feature, meaning that error handling is on a very high level. Compared to web developers, Swift developers may not be the most sought-after IT professionals, but they’re still in high demand, and that’s why it’s also one of the most popular programming languages.
When it comes to Android development, it’s almost impossible to overlook the dispute concerning Java and Kotlin. Kotlin became the second official language for Android development in 2017, and while still many “veterans” prefer Java, it’s been said that Kotlin is better in many ways. It’s an open-source, statically-typed language that combines both object-oriented and functional programming features. Smart, intuitive and practical – these are the attributes of Kotlin among Android developers.
Not ignoring its older sibling, Kotlin was designed to enable mixed-language projects. That means that you can translate any Java code into Kotlin, or vice versa. The main disadvantage may be a smaller support community, as it’s still a fairly new language. On the other hand, renowned companies like Twitter, Uber, Pinterest or Netflix are switching to Kotlin for Android applications, which only proves its rising popularity.
The possibilities are almost endless and it’s difficult to tell which programming language is “the best”. Beginner programmers should consider the pros and cons individually and follow up the updates, as the popularity of each language and software industry change all the time. Different fields naturally require a different choice of a language, and therefore it’s only up to every programmer which one is the most suitable for them.