One of the most important skills to learn in today’s world is to know how to write a computer program. Computers have entered almost every industry, whether that’s the autopilot in an aircraft or the digital speedometer in your bike.Today, almost every product and service makes use of computers in some way. So then, what are the best programming languages to learn?
Well, programming and developer communities are evolving at a faster rate than ever before. Several new programming languages and frameworks are popping up, suited for different categories of developers (beginners, intermediate, and experts) and for different use cases (web application, mobile applications, game development, distributed system, etc).
If you’re considering upping your skills and shifting into this highly sought-after domain, then you should know the different types and levels of programming, and of course what are the best coding languages to learn. That’s what we cover here.
The Levels of Programming
There exist several programming languages with their own specific purpose, with unique sets of keywords and syntaxes used to create instructions. Programming language vary in the level of abstraction and are classified into two categories:
- Low-level language
- High-level language
Low-level languages provide abstraction from the hardware and are represented in the binary form, i.e., 0 or 1 which are the machine instructions. Low-level languages are further classified as machine-level language and assembly level language.
|Parameters||Machine Level Language||Assembly Level Language|
|Hierarchy Level||At the lowest level in the hierarchy and has zero abstraction from the hardware.||Above the machine level language in the hierarchy and has a little abstraction from the hardware.|
|Learning Curve||Not human-readable||Easier to learn and maintain.|
|Written as||Written in binary – 0s and 1s.||Written in simple English and is easy to understand.|
|Generation||A first-generation programming language.||A second-generation programming language.|
|Requirement for Translator/Assembler||The machine code is executed directly so no translator is required.||It requires an assembler to convert assembly language to machine code.|
High-level language allows us to write programs that are independent of the type of computer. The high-level languages are named as high-level because they are closer to human language and can be understood easily, however it requires attention to the logic of the problem. The language needs a compiler to translate a high-level language into a low-level language. Further, the high-level languages provide the following advantage:
- Easy to learn and maintain
- Portable, i.e., they are machine-independent
|Parameters||Low-Level Language||High-Level Language|
|Level of Understanding||Machine friendly; easily understood by computers.||User friendly; written in simple English.|
|Time of Execution||Takes time to execute.||Executes at a faster pace.|
|Tool Required||Requires the assembler to convert assembly code to machine code.||Requires the compiler to convert the high-level language to machine instructions.|
|Portability||NIt is not portable.||Portable.|
|Memory Efficiency||Memory efficient.||Not quite as memory efficient.|
|Debugging and Maintenance||Difficult||Easier|
Types of Programming
Before we move to popular coding languages, we should have a general understanding of the different types of programming languages. This is different from the levels of programming languages – programming language types refer to how the code is employed and designed, as opposed to where it sits on the machine-assembly-human hierarchy.
1. Procedural Programming Languages
The Procedural Programming Languages paradigm, derived from structured programming, specifies a series of well-structured procedures and steps to compose a program.
It provides a set of commands by segregating the program into variables, functions, statements & conditional operators. Some examples are Adobe Dreamweaver, Eclipse or Microsoft visual studio, BASIC, C, Java, PASCAL, and FORTRAN.
2. Functional Programming Languages
A functional programming language is a declarative programming paradigm where programs are constructed by applying and composing functions. The language emphasizes expressions and declarations primarily. The foundation of functional programming is lambda calculus which uses conditional expressions and recursion to perform the calculations. It does not support iteration like loop statements & conditional statements like if-else. Some of the most prominent functional programming languages are Haskell, SML, Scala, F#, ML, and Scheme.
3. Object-oriented programming Language
Object-oriented programming Languages are based on “objects” i.e. units that contain data in the form of fields and code in the form of procedures. OOP offers many features like abstraction, encapsulation, polymorphism, inheritance, and classes.
4. Scripting Programming Languages
All scripting languages are programming languages that do not require a compilation step. Rather, they are interpreted (there is no compile stage). The instructions are written for a run time environment. The languages are majorly used in web applications, System administration, games applications, and multimedia. It is used to create plugins and extensions for existing applications.
5. Logic Programming
The programming paradigm is largely based on formal logic. The language does not tell the machine how to do something but employs restrictions on what it must consider doing. PROLOG, ASAP(Answer Set programming), and Datalog are well known logic programming languages, with the rules written in the form of classes.
Now that you know that, we can finally move onto the top programming languages in 2022. These will serve you well if you intend to find a career in software development as they make up the majority of job opportunities.
Best Programming Languages
Python undoubtedly tops the list. It is commonly thought of as the best programming language to learn first because it is very approachable. It is a fast, easy-to-use, and easy-to-deploy programming language that is widely used to develop scalable web applications. YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, SurveyMonkey are all built using Python.
The programming language provides a great starting point for beginners. If you’re looking for one of the more accessible and popular coding languages to learn, you should definitely try Python! A lot of startups use Python as their primary backend stack and thus this opens up a lot of opportunities for full-stack Python developers.
If you plan to get into the data science or AI industry, you will almost certainly have to learn Python. It can also be used in other fields, such as web development. The versatility and accessibility make it an excellent choice for beginners.
Check our Python tutorials to learn more about the language.
Difficulty level: Easy to learn. One of the best programming languages for beginners.
Career prospects: Highest volume of job openings, strong average salary
- Creating and using classes and objects is easy thanks to OOP characteristics
- Extensive library support
- Focuses on code readability
- Has the ability to scale even the most complex applications
- Ideal for building prototypes and testing out ideas faster
- Open-source with an ever-growing community support
- Provides support for a multitude of platforms and systems
- Very easy to learn and use
- Not suitable for mobile computing
- Slower by virtue of being an interpreted programming language
- The database access layer is somewhat immature
- Threading isn’t good because of GIL (Global Interpreter Lock)
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Java is another popular choice in large organizations and it has remained so for decades. It is widely used for building enterprise-scale web applications. Known to be extremely stable, many large enterprises have adopted it for that reason. If you are looking for a software development role at a large organization, Java is one of the first languages that you should learn.
Java is also widely used in Android App Development. Almost any business today needs an Android Application owing to the fact that there are billions of Android users. This too provides great opportunities for Java developers, given the fact that Google has created an excellent Java-based Android development framework – Android Studio.
If you want to learn Java from scratch, check out our Java tutorials.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Career prospects: Excellent, as many large enterprises use it
- An abundance of open-source libraries
- Automatic memory allocation and garbage collection
- Follows the OOP paradigm
- Has the stack allocation system
- A high degree of platform independence thanks to the JVM feature
- Highly secure due to the exclusion of explicit pointer and inclusion of a security manager responsible for defining the access of classes
- Ideal for distributed computing
- Offers a galore of APIs for accomplishing different tasks, such as database connection, networking, utilities, and XML parsing
- Supports multithreading
- Absence of templates limits creating high-quality data structures
- Expensive memory management
- Slower than natively compiled programming languages, like C and C++
udemy course Java Programming Masterclass is highly recommended by Java developers.
C and C++ have a significant presence in the world of programming. Almost all low-level systems, such as operating systems and file systems, are written in C/C++. If you wish to be a system-level programmer, these are the programming languages that you should learn.
C++ is also widely used by competitive programmers owing to the fact that it is extremely fast and stable. It provides something called STL – Standard Template Library. This is a pool of ready-to-use libraries for various data structures, arithmetic operations, and algorithms. The library support and speed of the language make it a popular choice in the high-frequency trading community as well.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate to learn
Career prospects: Good, though it is not the most common job opening
- Several compilers and libraries to work with [C++]
- Eases accessing blocked or hidden objects by other programming languages [C]
- Faster execution of programs than most programming languages [C/C++]
- Forms the basis for understanding more complex programming languages [C/C++]
- Language of choice for multi-device, multi-platform app development [C++]
- Offers a great degree of portability [C]
- Procedure-oriented language with a group of function modules and blocks. These make debugging, testing, and maintaining the programs easier [C].
- Programs are more efficient and easy to understand [C/C++]
- Rich function library [C++]
- Runs close to the system hardware and hence, offers a low level of abstraction [C/C++]
- Support exception handling and function overloading [C++]
- Wide variety of application domains, such as games, GUI applications, and real-time mathematical simulations [C++]
- Complex syntax [C/C++]
- Doesn’t support program namespace [C]
- Incapable of solving modern, real-world programming challenges [C]
- Less efficient object-oriented system compared to other OOP-based programming languages [C++]
- Need to manually create the high-level constructs [C]
- No garbage collection or dynamic memory allocation [C/C++]
- No run-time checking [C/C++]
- No strict type checking [C]
- Not an easy first-choice for learning programming [C/C++]
- Plagued by the issues of buffer overflow and memory corruption [C/C++]
- Smaller standard library [C]
Difficulty level: Easy
Career prospects: Excellent, as several startups use it
- Makes a website’s interface richer
- Highly versatile
- Acts as the “programming language of the web”
- Reduced website server demand by virtue of being client-side
- Regular updates via the ECMA specification
- Several add-ons, such as Greasemonkey, for extending functionality
- Simple implementation
- Plenty of resources and excellent community support
- Used for building a diverse range of applications
- Works exceptionally well with other programming languages
- Absence of copy or equivalent method
- Allows only single inheritance
- Might be interpreted differently by different browsers
5. Golang (or Go)
Go, also known as Golang, is a programming language designed by Google. It provides excellent support for multithreading and so, it is used often by companies that rely heavily on distributed systems, and also by startups in Silicon Valley. Those who wish to join a Valley-based startup specializing in core systems may want to learn Golang.
Read some Golang tutorials to get a better sense of the language.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Career prospects: A healthy amount of opportunities; best suited for those who know what they want their career to be
- Being a statically-typed language makes it more secure
- Cleaner syntax makes it easier to learn
- Comprehensive standard library offering a range of inbuilt functions for working with primitive types
- Ideal for building SPAs (single-page applications)
- Smart documentation
- Very fast as it is compiled to machine code
- Absence of a virtual machine makes complex programs less efficient
- Implicit interfaces
- Lacks versatility
- No GUI library
- Underprivileged library support
The R programming language is one of the most commonly used languages for data analysis and machine learning. R provides an excellent framework and built-in libraries to develop powerful machine learning algorithms. It is also used for general statistical computing. Enterprises often make use of R. Those who wish to join the analytics team of a large organization should think about learning R.
You can learn more about it through R tutorials.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Career prospects: Excellent
- Ability to run seamlessly on various operations systems
- Active, growing community
- Being open-source and free grants the ability to make tweaks as required
- Comprehensive statistical analysis language
- Highly extensible
- Powerful package ecosystem
- Lacks security features
- No strict programming guidelines
- Poor memory management
- Quality of some packages is subpar
Swift is a programming language that is used to develop iOS applications. iOS-based devices are becoming increasingly popular. The Apple iPhone, for instance, has captured a significant share of the mobile market and is giving Android some real tough competition. If iOS development seems up your alley, then you should learn Swift.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Career prospects: Excellent, especially as the iOS app field grows
- Automatic memory management prevents memory leaks
- Backed by Apple
- Better scalability allows easily adding functionalities to the product and/or bringing in additional developers
- Easy to add new features
- Encourages developers to write clean and readable code
- English-like syntax makes it highly readable
- Interoperable with Objective-C
- It is possible to integrate Server-side Swift with any technology
- Makes code sharing better and development process faster when used for both frontend and backend development
- Very fast as compared to other popular programming languages, such as Objective-C and Python
- Limited community support and resources
- Somewhat unstable due to being a relatively new arrival on the programming scene
- No support for legacy projects; can be used only for iOS7 or later apps
Difficulty level: Easy
Career prospects: Excellent, with a large number of opportunities available
- Abundance of powerful frameworks
- Easy to get started for making web pages
- First-class debugging with Xdebug
- Gigantic community support and a huge ecosystem
- Lots of automation tools for testing and deploying applications
- No scarcity of good automation tools for deployment and testing
- Supports object-oriented and functional programming paradigms
- Developing websites completely in PHP is slower as compared to using other options
- Lacks in terms of security
- Poor error handling
- Requires extensions to a greater extent
C# is a general-purpose programming language developed by Microsoft. C# is widely used for backend programming, building games (using Unity), building Window mobile phone apps and lots of other use cases. If you want to build desktop applications, then C# is what you need to learn.
You can get a better scene of the language through C# tutorials.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Career prospects: Not quite as good as the others, as it isn’t quite as in demand
- As pointer types aren’t permitted, much safer than C and C++
- Ability to work with shared codebases
- Automatic scalable and updateable
- Component-oriented, object-oriented programming language
- Follows a syntax similar to the C programming language
- Fully integrated with the .NET library
- Ideal for all types of Windows development
- Rich sets of library functions and data types
- Supports type safety
- Quick compilation and execution times
- Allows pointers in ‘unsafe’ blocks
- Almost all variables are references and memory deallocation is implicit using a garbage collector
- Offers less flexibility than C++
- Requires decent effort and time to learn
- Resolving errors requires serious expertise and knowledge
MATLAB is a statistical analysis tool that is used in various industries for fata analysis. MATLAB is used widely in the computer vision and image processing industry as well. This is excellent for those who want to work with machine learning and deep learning, computational finance, and signal processing and communications, among many other fields.
Learn more through MATLAB tutorials.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Career prospects: Great, as it used in several cutting-edge fields
- Eases developing scientific simulation thanks to a rich inbuilt library
- Functionality can be extended greatly by adding toolboxes
- High coding efficiency and productivity as it doesn’t require a compiler for execution
- Ideal for developing scientific research applications
- Matlab Coder allows converting code for using in other programming languages, such as C++, Java, and Python
- Not free to use, requires purchasing a license
- Not much application beyond the scope of numerical computing
- Dealing with errors generated during cross-compilation requires extensive knowledge and experience
- Slower due to being an interpreted programming language
So What is the Best Programming Language?
Your choice of which programming language to learn will depend on your career goals. For example, if you want to dive into machine learning and deep learning, then you shouldn’t be spending your time learning Java or C#. To help you make this decision, we’ll briefly go over some of the languages and what they’re used for.
Java and PHP are commonly used in the corporate world. Many organizations use Spring (Java) and Codeigniter (PHP) as their web backend framework.
R and MATLAB have a large presence in the data analytics world. If you want to develop a career in data analytics or data science, these are the languages to learn. C/C++ and Golang are the top choices in building low-latency and scalable systems.
With this, hopefully you have an answer to the question of which programming language to learn. Your goal should be to settle on a language and work on projects that have relevance to your career goals. It’ll take effort, but it’s also very rewarding!