Decoding the Most Popular Programming Languages

Everything digital, including this very platform that you are reading this article on, sits on top of a set of zeros and ones. This type of data representation is known as binary, and it is the only form that electronic devices (or the hardware that we use to help us simplify our lives) understand. So how is it that we can enter data into a computer however we want, and yet it still manages to understand us?

The answer is – programming languages.

But what is it, and why should we be giving it relevance today? It’s here…

Here’s what we will look at today

  • What is Programming?
  • Most popular programming languages in the world
  • Why should we learn to program?
  • The future of programming

What is Programming?

It is an art. It is a skill. It is a superpower.

Considering how everything around us depends on technology, it is quite easy to understand how big a role programming plays in our lives. From shopping online to watching movies on Netflix, everything digital is controlled by programming.

We once believed that programming was something for geeks who sat at messy desks all day and all night. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Programming is now accessible to anyone with an interest in doing so (including kids). The number of people who have shown an interest in programming has increased exponentially over the years.

In today’s world, software companies are more relatable – they chat with you if you need help with figuring out how to make online payments, or if you need food, they help to deliver it to your doorstep. Of course, not literally. They develop applications that we, consciously or not, use every single day.

Programming is simply a set of instructions that a user provides to any hardware. It helps to create a link between what an end-user sees and what the underlying hardware understands. Programming languages are those which help users to develop programs or applications that perform a certain activity. Generally, these languages have built-in functionalities and have a set of rules that help the users to design and develop any kind of application that they want.

So what are some of the best and most popular programming languages?

Most popular programming languages in the world

Some of the most followed indexing websites include Tiobe, PYPL, Stack Overflow, and Github, among others.

While PYPL depends on the number of times online tutorials are Googled, Tiobe makes use of the information about how many times a language gets appears in the queries used across different search engines. Since these are not accurate markers to gauge the popularity of programming languages, we have made an exhaustive study on this matter and have come up with a list of languages that are most commonly used in the world today.

Below is the list of most popular programming languages, in no particular order.

  • Python – Commonly dubbed as the most wanted programming language, Python is popular amongst coding enthusiasts and experts due to its powerful capabilities and flexibility. Python can be learned for any purpose and by anyone – from a botanist to a rocket scientist. It also boasts of a large set of libraries that help users to perform whatever actions they want to. From machine learning to writing code that will act as a web crawler to scrape information off the internet, anything is doable with Python. What sets it apart from other programming languages is its ease of use. We can read it just like everyday English. A large community willing to share their knowledge and resources acts as an added advantage to Python.
  • C/C++ – These are general-purpose programming languages that have been in use for a long time. Although these languages were developed over three decades ago, they are still relevant in today’s world and are consistently ranked among the most popular programming languages. These languages form the base of many top-level programming languages and operating systems. While C is used mostly in low-level development (linking hardware and software), C++ is used in applications that focus on an object-oriented approach including gaming, interface development, and desktop application development.
  • Javascript  – Although JavaScript has the word Java in it, it has absolutely no connection to the latter. It is currently one of the most popular languages due to many features such as platform independence, object-oriented nature, and power-packed lightweight performance. JavaScript is preferred by millions of programmers worldwide for web development, along with HTML and CSS. Most modern web browsers support JavaScript, and web interfaces can quickly be developed using the language. It is also preferred because it can be used on both client and server sides can also be integrated with applications developed on other platforms easily.
  • Java – One of the oldest languages that are still in use across the world, Java’s popularity has stood the test of time.  Java’s community has been constantly working on updating the language which has helped Java to cement its place amongst the top programming languages today. With syntax similar to English, it is an easily understandable language. It is also one of the fundamental languages that most programmers begin to learn coding from.
  • C# – C# or C Sharp has been in use for a couple of decades now. It belongs to the family of C and was developed for open-source development where the language was released by Microsoft, along with the .NET platform which encompasses a code editor and a compiler that ran C# code. Microsoft has been the major contributor to the open-source community of C#. It is also used heavily by Unity, the cross-platform game engine.
  • PHP – PHP is a scripting language that is mainly used in the backend development of web applications. Many stalwarts of the Internet including Facebook, and WordPress depend on PHP. The language can be easily integrated with applications developed from other languages and is very easy to learn for beginners.
  • R – An open-source environment, R provides support for statistical computation and analysis along with providing a platform for the development of graphical interfaces. It is a very powerful language that has been used over the years for analysis across different fields including banking, finance, business management, and others.

There are hundreds of programming languages currently in use. Some organizations may even develop their own languages based on globally accepted languages to suit their specific needs. There are quite a lot of new languages that have cropped up in the recent past that are being preferred by many tech giants including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others. Some of the most popular and preferred upcoming programming languages are discussed below.

  • Kotlin – Kotlin is being popularised by Google as the latter has made it the preferred language for any kind of programming for Android. It is a general-purpose programming language that is quite easy to learn and implement. Many top organizations including Netflix and Lyft have been developing frameworks for smartphones using Kotlin. Most organizations that focus on mobile application development have been on a hiring spree where they have been seeking out those with expertise in Kotlin.
  • Swift – Swift is a language for developing iOS applications. A relatively new addition to programming languages, Swift has been quickly becoming popular amongst programmers looking to develop applications for all Apple devices including iPhones, MacBooks, tvOS, watchOS, and others.
  • MATLAB – MATLAB is a very powerful language that is mostly used for mathematical computing. Today, its best application is in areas such as image processing, signal processing, and machine learning where it is used in conjunction with other programming languages.
  • Scala – Scala has been used predominantly by those getting into serious programming to overcome the issues that were part of Java-based application development. It is both object-oriented as well as functional, thereby acting as an aggregator of the best of both worlds. It is mainly used in web development and has been extensively used of late in areas such as machine learning and data science.
  • Go – Go is another language that has been popularised by Google. It is a low-level language that can even be used by those who are novices in the field of programming. It is generally used for developing machine learning modules and data servers.

Why should we learn to program?

With the amount of digitization we see around us, it is only practical that everyone knows how to program or develop certain applications. Programming is slowly becoming the norm in today’s schools. Teaching kids how to program in different languages can not only help them to grasp the technicalities behind various operations, but it can also help them to think critically and to build their logical skills. Front-end development is the development of interfaces of web applications. Basically, any software that you interact with directly by providing inputs is an example of the front-end.

If you are looking to be a front-end developer, it would be worth it to learn

  • JavaScript
  • React
  • HTML
  • Swift
  • CSS
  • Visual Basic
  • TypeScript

Back-end development refers to the creation and development of the underlying architecture of web applications.

In order to become a backend developer, it is important to learn languages such as:

  • Node
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • C#
  • C
  • Go

To become a game developer, one will need to learn how to use:

  • Unity
  • C#
  • Python
  • Java
  • TypeScript

Mobile applications are the most preferred type of development in the world today as the number of smartphone users has far exceeded the number of desktop users.

If you’re looking to become a mobile applications developer, you’ll need to study languages such as:

  • Swift
  • Go
  • Android Development using Kotlin
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • C

With the number of users far exceeding the number of applications available, quality applications that cater to the various needs of the users have become the need of the hour. Those with the right kind of skills will emerge successful in the long haul.

The future of programming

With the advent of artificial intelligence and intelligent machines, more and more developers are being hired by organizations to improve their technological arsenal. From writing code that optimizes the performance of industrial equipment to designing the look and feel of a product, programmers are in demand across fields. The future belongs to those that can think digitally – from being able to develop low-level applications that directly communicate with hardware to improve hardware efficiency to ones that can develop applications that replicate human behavior. Programming is surely going to be a part of our lives much more intrinsically than we imagine it to be. The time to learn programming is always, right now.

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