Programming is at the core of tech revolution and capabilities of today’s programming languages let developers unleash their potential and build technology of tomorrow.
In this article, we will cover the top 10 coding languages in terms of capabilities, ease of learning, current demand/usage and expected demand in the near future. More is the demand, more is the money.
What programming language to learn ?
There are multiple ways to look at this question and the answer depends on what you want to do afterwards. For many, the selection criteria simply is “the most in demand language to land a high paying job”. But that is not true for everyone and there are many other aspects to consider.
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Python for example is the language used in universities for teaching programming to students for the shear reason that it is vast and one can easily grasp programming concepts with python. It is a great choice to start learning programming.
For more specialized tasks like accessing relational database, SQL is the programming language to learn. SQL is not the language to develop applications but supports applications by connecting apps with databases. Not to mention, SQL is used widely in many data driven applications and the demand for SQL tops many job charts as of today.
If you are the one interested in hard core programming and want to develop for embedded systems, operating systems, telecom equipment or sophisticated game engines etc., then C/C++ (C mainly) still remains the languages of choice.
Let us look at what are the most popular programming languages as of today, their capabilities, learning curve, area of application, current demand and the direction they are headed towards -
2. Python - Best Programming Language to Learn
Python is another programming language that is raging at the moment with developers across the globe using it for rapid applications development. Python is modular, simple to learn, object oriented, and high level language that emphasizes readability.
Python is heavily used in education sector, web and internet development, scientific and numeric computing as well as in big data and machine learning algorithms development.
The depth and breadth of Python makes it the language of choice in education and research sector and students across the globe use Python for learning programming and building research projects. For many computer programming students these days, Python happens to be the first language they learn.
Python has been heavily used for web and internet development and there are many popular frameworks like Django, Pyramid, Flask and Bottle. Django CMS and Plone are two widely used content management systems that are based on Python and power many popular websites and web apps.
In the recent times Python demand has grown further because of the rise in demand for big data analytics and machine learning algorithms. There are many open source libraries written in Python that implement core machine learning algorithms and are used widely by data scientists. R is another language that is used heavily for statistics and data science but has a steep learning curve.
Some of the popular python libraries include scipy which is used for mathematics, engineering and science, “pandas” is used in library modeling and data analysis, iPython, kivy, pyqt and pyside are other useful libraries.
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You might also like - Python Tutorial List
3. Java - Coding Language for Masses
Java is the language for masses, an evergreen language that continues to keep the job boards busy for many years. Write once and run everywhere is the philosophy on which java was released back in 1990 by Sun Microsystems, acquired later by Oracle.
Java is widely used for web development, enterprise software development and Android apps development. The rising demand of mobile apps running on android platform has taken java to the new heights and that is the reason it still tops the demand across the globe.
Java is high level object oriented programming language and is easy to learn than C++ but lacks performance offered by C or C++ applications. For that reason, it is typically not used for building core engines, operating systems or for embedded systems development.
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Learn more about Java at official website here - Java Software | Oracle.
4. SQL - Structured Query Language
SQL – Structured Query Language is the language understood by databases. SQL was created back in 1970 by IBM engineers to create, update and retrieve data from database management system named “System R”. SQL has come a long way since then, and as of today, it is among the most in demand skills in the market.
The demand for noSQL databases to handle big data in the recent times had put SQL under shadows, but not for long. It was soon realized that SQL offers better solutions for big data analytics and is more scalable, proven and time tested technology.
SQL is the language that aids development of data driven websites, web apps, desktop apps as well as mobile apps. You name any application area and SQL is there. From learning perspective, SQL is easy to master and since the demand in market is high, you can land a starter job with SQL alone.
However, to get a high paying job, you need to have experience in designing, managing and maintaining databases like Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, IBM DB2 and Microsoft SQL Server etc.
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5. C# - Top in Microsoft Stack
C# is one of the most versatile language and brings in the ease of programming offered by languages like Java. C# is type-safe, object oriented programming language and runs in the .Net Framework run-time, and C# code is compiled into IL (intermediate language) that conforms to CLI specifications.
C# is fast becoming the language of choice for building anything coming from the house of Microsoft, and you can build client-server applications, database applications, web services, mobile apps, games and everything else.
For hard core console games development, C, C++ is still the way to go whereas assembly language is preferred for game engines development. Rust language is also making a mark in this area.
You can read more about C# here at – C# Basics for Beginners: Learn C# Fundamentals by Coding.
They said C++ is old but they agreed that it is still gold. When it comes to hard core systems programming where performance matters, C/C++ are still the preferred programming languages. C being more close to hardware than C++, gives even better performance.
Many developers turn to Java for its ease of development as compared to C++ (&C) and also for the reason that performance at many places can be compensated by investing more on the hardware side. But this is not possible always, like in case of embedded systems, where you need to manage with the minimalist hardware stack.
Are C and C++ still iamong top programming languages?
C/C++ boasts the best compilers, development environments, libraries, core development components and a huge ecosystem that seems irreplaceable in the near future.
The existing ecosystem and the need for performant applications is keeping C/C++ demand high, and the pay scale too is on the higher side for C/C++ developers.
Learn more about C++ here at - Standard C++.
Swift is relatively new language and is fast growing in popularity. Swift is the development language for everything Apple i.e. iOS apps, OS X apps, watchOS apps and tvOS apps. Swift brings in the best of both C and Objective-c and works great with cocoa and cocoa touch frameworks.
Apple has a huge ecosystem of its own and Swift is the language that without doubt appears to spearhead its growth for years to come. If you are planning to get into apple ecosystem, Swift is the language to learn.
Swift is easy to learn and fun to work with for the simple reason that it brings in all the features of strictly typed languages like c, java, c++ but is as easy and fun to work with as any scripting language like Ruby or Python. You can experiment with swift in the swift playgrounds and see the outcome immediately without the worries of compiling and running the app.
Apple claims Swift to be the first industrial quality, systems programming language that offers scripting like syntax and makes development an absolute breeze.
You can learn more about Swift by following below links -
Also check out - Swift Tutorial List
Many argue that PHP is not the future of programming, but the ecosystem of PHP is so huge that the world needs lot of developer to support it for years to come. Top three content management systems - WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are built using PHP and almost 80 % of all the websites that exist as of today run on PHP. So, it is huge!
PHP is easy to learn language and can be your gateway to the world of programming. It is among the in demand languages in the marketplace and you can find lot of job openings requiring PHP skillset. Salary range for PHP developers in general is on the lower side as compared to Java, C++, Python or Swift.
PHP ecosystem consists of aforesaid top notch CMS like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla etc., and many PHP frameworks like Laravel, Symfony, Yii and FuelPHP. These Content management systems and frameworks enable developers to build production ready websites and web apps within days.
The rise of Node.js, Django and Ruby on Rails in the recent times appeared to shadow PHP, but PHP is improving and the newer versions are well placed to compete with new emerging languages and technologies.
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Ruby is another open source, object oriented, general purpose programming language that is simple and aids rapid application development. Ruby is best known for its popular framework Rails (Ruby on Rails) and is used mostly for web programming.
It is best used for server side development and many companies like Bloomberg, Airbnb, Shopify, Hulu and Slideshare etc. have used it in one or the other projects.
Is Ruby best programming language to learn ?
Ruby is often compared to Python on readability and offers English like syntax, this makes Ruby a perfect candidate for the first programming language to learn.
Learn more about Ruby here at - Ruby Language Official Website
10. Rust Language
Rust is the rising star that promises to be the next big thing. It is fast becoming obsession of hard core developers and growing at a very rapid pace. While Rust language is on the uprise, the job market is yet to pick up, it being a very new language, and roots yet to be spread deep and wide.
Rust language came from the house of Mozilla in 2010 where Graydon Hoare started it as a research project , and now it is loved and maintained by community of developers who are determined to take it to the new heights.
Rust is a low level systems programming language that targets performance, safety and concurrency and is a great alternative to C/C++. Old time C developers can try their hands on with Rust to write operating systems, databases, embedded programming, kernels and everything systems programming.
Rust is a modern language that gives flexibility of high level languages and performance and control offered by low level languages like C.
Learn more about Rust here at - Rust Language Official Website
Below given are other in demand coding languages that give close competition to the top performing languages.
GO Programming Language - Go is a relatively new language from the house of Google and is a great option for web servers development, networks development as well as for command line applications.
R - When it comes to data analysis and statistical software development, R is the language of choice. With the rise of big data and machine learning, R is gaining grounds and gives a tough competition to Python and Matlab.
Perl - Perl is another language (one of the oldest languages) that is gaining traction and showing great signs of revival. DevOps is in-thing and Perl is getting into the zone of favorite languages for DevOps, Keep a close eye on Perl, it might turn out to be the next big thing just the way Python language has grown big.
VisualBasic .Net - Object oriented language from the house of Microsoft and a great option for developing .Net based applications, area of specialization includes web applications and XML based web services.
Haskell - Haskell rules the world of functional programming. Functional programming comes with a completely different philosophy when compared to object oriented programming. Functional programming has great application in distributed systems development where parallel execution and concurrency is the key requirement. Artificial intelligence and mathematical computations is another area where functional programming shines, and hence Haskell.
We are at a stage where technology is knocking the doors of an all new world of automation, driven by machine learning, big data, internet of things and supported by apps running on all kinds of devices. The apps include the ones that you use on your mobiles, tablets, watches, desktops etc. and also the apps and programs that run behind the scene.
There are also apps and programs that run on embedded devices mounted on your cars, vehicles, medical devices, home lighting systems, and what not. To build all these programs and apps, the world needs solid programmers!
The jobs in technology sector requiring coding skills are ever increasing and if you look at various predictions and surveys conducted by industry analysts, demand for software developers would continue to exceed supply for at least a decade to come.
To get involved in this ecosystem of programs and apps and ride the wave of tech revolution, you need to learn a coding language and get your hands dirty with programing.
Irrespective of whether you are new to programming or have been doing coding for years, it is always a good idea to evaluate most popular programming languages at least once in a year or two and plan to make a shift, if required.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article, if so, do share your thoughts via comments.
Further Reading - Programming Languages for Mobile Apps Development.