The Top 10 Most Popular Programming Languages

The world of programming moves fast. You can’t afford to be left behind. Keeping up can be a challenge, though. In fact, most software engineers learn one new programming language or framework a year throughout their professional careers. That can seem like an insurmountable hurdle to a new programmer!

It doesn’t need to. As long as beginners study the foundations of programming, they’ll be well-equipped no matter which language they choose.

So, if you want to spend time learning a programming language, which one should you learn? It’s an important decision to make, but it’s not an easy one. If you can’t decide, why not follow the crowd and go with one of the languages people are already using?

In this article, you’ll see some of the most popular programming languages on the internet.

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is the language of the web. It’s so widespread, in fact, that you probably interacted with JavaScript dozens of times on the way to this article. JavaScript controls everything dynamic about a website, from the smallest buttons to entire games.

JavaScript doesn’t just power the front-end of a website. It’s a powerful language all on its own that can work just fine outside of a browser. The most popular JavaScript runtime, Node.js, lets back-end developers use JavaScript to control their server architecture and run the language directly from the terminal. This is becoming an extremely popular option for full-stack developers. Most often, these developers only want to use one language in their day-to-day work.

Because it’s so popular, jobs for JavaScript are everywhere. That’s unlikely to change any time soon.

2. Python

Python is a revolutionary language in several ways. When it first launched, most programs were built using languages with complicated syntax. They used brackets, semi-colons and other unintuitive symbols. Python aimed to change all of that.

Python uses white space to distinguish one command from another. It aims to be as intuitive to humans as it is to machines. Some developers find Python extremely easy to work with because of how close it is to readable English, which is why it gets used for some of the most demanding programs. For example, Python is widely used in the world of deep learning and artificial intelligence.

Python does have some disadvantages. Namely, the language is slow. That isn’t an issue for most modern needs, but it can be a factor in places where speed is a necessity.

It isn’t a surprise that many professions outside of professional coding, like those in academia and healthcare, dabble in Python to optimize their workflow. The language is simple and abstract enough to tackle a wide variety of problems.

3. Java

Once upon a time, Java was the hottest new language on the block. In the 1990s, experts predicted that Java would dethrone C as the king of languages. It did wind up doing that, but it didn’t manage to sit on the throne for long.

That’s not to say the language isn’t still popular. Far from it, in fact. Java is widely used in enterprise applications and has also played a significant role in Android app development.

Java follows an object-oriented programming (OOP) paradigm. With OOP, everything is divided into classes and objects. For example, there might be a class of objects called “cats.” Your cat, Mr. Whiskers, is an object belonging to that class. This is meant to make programming more intuitive and understandable.

Contrary to popular belief, Java and JavaScript have nothing to do with each other! JavaScript took on the name as a marketing ploy during the height of Java’s popularity.

4. C#

C# was created by Microsoft in the 1990s. At the time, it was meant to be a direct competitor to Java. That has influenced its design a great deal. In fact, there are far more similarities between the two languages than differences. That’s why some programmers think of C# as Microsoft’s Java.

Perhaps because of its attachment to Microsoft, C# has been a mainstay of programming since its introduction. It has found widespread use in many different applications. The .NET framework is the most notable example, and it alone is responsible for a huge number of C# jobs.

There are other uses of C#, however, outside of web development. For example, the popular Unity game engine makes extensive use of C#.

5. C++

C++ has always occupied a small but significant share of the market. By combining the rigor of C’s memory management with dynamic OOP, C++ fills a niche that few others do. Programmers have their own name for the language: “C with classes.”

Memory management and OOP come together naturally in game development, so most of it uses C++. If you’re looking to break into game development for consoles or PC, it’s almost mandatory to learn the language.

For large, complicated projects where speed is a necessity and objects are useful, C++ has few competitors. That’s why many programmers turn to this language when performance is an issue.

6. C

C is the oldest language listed in this article. When it was first released, it was a competitor to true dinosaurs of development like COBOL and Fortran. Nowadays, long after those languages have faded away, C remains in use.

C, at its core, is a simple language. That’s one reason the language is used to teach basic programming fundamentals at colleges around the world.

C directly interacts with memory through pointers. These pointers are the cause of many problems in C, but they’re also the key to its power. They give the programmer a great deal of control over what the computer winds up doing. Used effectively, C can smoothly and efficiently accomplish almost any task.

C is used in simpler command-line applications that need to run quickly. It’s also widely used in operating systems, including some widespread ones. All Unix-like operating systems, like Linux and macOS, are written in C.

Because of all that, C isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

7. PHP

There’s no easy way to say this. PHP is not a widely liked language. In fact, it’s the source of all kinds of mockery and disdain throughout the programming community. Programmers find its syntax clunky, inefficient and asinine. They bemoan PHP’s performance. It’s safe to say that if PHP has a feature, a programmer out there has complained about it.

Those willing to push past all of the jokes and explore what PHP has to offer might be surprised. It’s actually one of the highest-paid programming languages out there. There are good reasons for that. Despite the disdain, mastering PHP allows you to unlock the hidden potential of content management systems like WordPress.

If you aren’t afraid of bucking trends, PHP might be the language for you.

8. Swift

The iPhone changed the way people interact with their phones forever. While iPhone applications first used a clunky language called Objective-C, Apple ditched the language in the mid-2000s. That switch killed entire sectors of the software industry overnight.

From the ashes came Swift, a language meant to take on all of the best features of Objective-C without the clunk. It’s a multi-paradigm language that most find easy to work with.

Those wanting to make apps for the iPhone need to write them in Swift. For that reason alone, this language will be popular for the foreseeable future.

9. Kotlin

In many ways, Kotlin is to Android what Swift is to the iPhone. Unlike Apple, however, Google still allows Android apps to be written in Java, which was the language used before the introduction of Kotlin.

Kotlin has some features that developers absolutely love, like static typing. Because it’s Google’s preferred programming language for Android apps, many app developers have started to use the language for their work. Some still cling to Java, but that’s likely to change in the future.

10. Bash (And Other Command Languages)

Bash is a command language used in the terminal to control a computer. There’s much debate as to whether it’s actually a programming language. The consensus among most programmers is that that command-line languages are programming languages.

Almost every programmer on Earth has used Bash, or another command language, to perform simple tasks. For example, Bash can be used to copy, delete or save a file. Software developers find that these tasks are completed quickly when using a command-line interface.

Believe it or not, that’s not all command languages are capable of. Bash can actually be used to make genuinely complicated and elaborate programs. Scripts that perform complicated mathematical functions are widely used in the industry.

What do you think?


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