top 10 programming languages

If you’re just starting out in the field of programming and you don’t know where to start, or you’re simply looking to add a new programming skill to your repertoire, our overview of the top 10 programming languages to learn in 2017 can be a handy guide to understand which programming language can be the most useful skill for you to acquire this year.

Also Read: Best Web Design and Development Tools for 2017

Java

Java is an object oriented programming language (OOP), it’s heavily class based. It has the WORA  philosophy: Write once, run anywhere. And it lives up to this philosophy. More than any other language, Java is a compiled language, it compiles to bytecode which can run in JVM (Java Virtual machine). If the JVM is implemented for any architecture, you will be able to run Java code on it, from supercomputers to old feature phones and down to SmartCards, even your SIM card in your phone is capable of running java applications.

The Java language is more than 21 years old, it’s a very mature language, and in most people’s mind Java is the language of the Enterprise. If you learn Java, you will have a solid foundation in the object oriented paradigm, which might become handy if you are planning on learning another OO language. After you become accustomed with the language and start reading code from other libraries or projects, you will pick up a lot of “best practices” because most of its libraries have gone through a lot of refactoring and polishing.

You can develop a wide range of applications in Java, because it’s compiled to bytecode, it runs pretty fast compared to interpreted languages, so you will often find very resource intensive applications written in Java.

If you learn Java and you will want to work as a Java developer, most likely you will end up in a bigger corporation somewhere. There are a lot of enterprise-grade software developed in Java. It’s the #1 language in almost all language comparisons lists, so you will find a job as a Java developer. It’s used in banking, b2b, machine learning, embedded systems, data storage and retrieval.

C

The C language was developed in 1970, it’s another very mature language. It had a great influence on many other languages that came after it. It’s a statically typed language, and uses very little memory. It does not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it gets the job done and it gets it done fast. It’s considered to be a low-level language, it’s down pretty “close to the metal”. C gives you great freedom in terms of what can you do with the hardware, but it’s also a great responsibility.

If you are new to programming, you should definitely start with C because while it’s learning curve is a bit steeper than let’s say PHP or JavaScript, it will serve as a solid foundation in understanding and working with other languages. Most other languages are written in C usually. After you will learn C, you will truly appreciate some of the features of other languages like OOP, Lambda functions, interpreted vs compiled, etc.

With C you can build anything, you can even create other programming languages, and much more, you can write operating systems. The Linux kernel which sits at the heart of Android and a lot of supercomputers, and even embedded devices are programmed in C.

Nowadays, C is used mostly in embedded systems, a lot of device drivers are written in C, because it’s a low-level language. Usually, when speed of execution and memory consumption are very important, companies tend to use C. C is with us and will be with us for a long time, so you can be sure that you will be able to find employment as a C developer.

C++

It’s a general-purpose programming language, designed by Bjarne Stroustrup to be a super level of C by adding object oriented and generic programming features. That way it supports all C written code (legacy code or intended for embedded devices) natively.

It’s a programming language that has high performance and is very flexible, being able to work on a wide range of devices. It supports OOP, actually OOP is one of its biggest selling point, you can get the performance of C but you can write OOP code. T

he language had a face lift in the recent years, so if you are planning to learn C++ in 2017 you should go for the 2017 edition C++17. C++ is also a great language to learn because you will have the freedom of writing C code while in the meantime you can take advantage of the OOP paradigm, at almost zero performance cost.

C++ is also used in embedded systems, industrial control, space technology but maybe its biggest but certainly its flashiest use case is in video game development and even game engine development. Most triple A title games are written in C++ or use a game engine that was written in it.  As a C++ developer you can work on a lot of interesting projects if you like to work with high performance applications or in systems with limited resources.

C#

C# is an object oriented programming language. It’s an interpreted programming language as Java is. The compiler generated IL (interpreted language) code that is run by the CLR (Common Language Run-time: A process known as just-in-time compilation converts compiled code into machine instructions which the computer’s CPU then executes).

C# was developed by Microsoft and though for years it was exclusive to the Windows OSs (desktop and server), it gained enough popularity for the Linux community to create an open source equivalent called Mono. In the light of the latest changes at Microsoft, C# became open source. That was followed shortly by the decision of Apple to make its new programming language Swift open source.

As C++ has a standard library (STL), so has C#, and it’s called .Net Framework. With the open sourcing of the C# and .Net Framework, the C# programming language has a bright future where it can compete with Java’s Write once, run anywhere philosophy.

The similarities between Java and C# are striking but at a closer look you can find C# much closer to C++ syntax that Java is. Also, you can see some influences C# has on the latest C++ revisions: C++14 and C++17.

It’s a higher level programming language than C++, a very complex one, you can create a wide range of apps with it as with C++, or Java, but much faster prototyping of code as C# does not have explicit pointer as C++/C has (it manages the memory internally using a GC: garbage collector).

Python

Python is a high level language and it’s considered to be a general-purpose programming language. Python is an interpreted language or more commonly referred to as a scripting language. This means that you don’t have to compile Python in order to run it. One of its most characteristic features is its focus on readability. It uses indentation instead of curly braces, which forces developers to write in a clean and structured manner. Python code is considered to be easily read by other developers, unlike Perl where even the author finds it hard to read after some time has passed. Python supports multiple programming paradigms like OOP (Object Oriented Programming), functional and procedural style. It’s used extensively in linux utilities, parts of the Debian Linux package manager are written in Python. It has a low memory footprint and excels at string manipulation tasks, often times outperforms Java in terms of speed and comes close to C or C++. Python is the main user programming language of the RaspberryPi mini computer. It’s a mature language with a lot of libraries and extensions, it found its use in Machine Learning and data analysis task, it has strong ties to PostgreSQL.

There are two main versions of it, the 2.X and the newer 3.X, something to consider if you want to learn Python, because they break compatibility in packages and libraries.

If you become a Python programmer you most likely will work in Machine Learning, Data Mining or even Web Scraping projects. But it can be used to build very versatile webpages with Django for example.

JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the languages of the Web. It’s a very strange language, it was developed in only 10 days, so a lot of strange things got into it, but because it’s in every browser, it’s one of the most used languages. JavaScript is a scripting language as its name implies, and it made the Web the number one application delivery platform. Most people associate JavaScript with the DOM which is an API that the browsers expose, and it’s hated by many, loved by a few, but now with HTML5 things keep getting better. NodeJS, a server based implementation of JavaScript made it possible to write applications in pure JavaScript, and people re-discovered how beautiful this language is without the DOM API. The name was chosen to sound familiar to a Java developers, and it stuck. The official name for the language is EMCAScript.

You should learn this language if you are interested in front-end technologies, even if you just want to create a simple web page, sooner or later you will need to use JavaScript just to make your life easier. Also, if you are planning to create high traffic web apps which are event-driven, then JS would be a good language to learn.

In terms of career, companies usually hire JS developers mostly for front-end work, because NodeJS is not considered that mainstream on the server side, where things tend to move a bit slower and people will stick to well-tested solutions. Often times, they will ask for HTML and CSS knowledge, because these technologies work in symbiosis to enable rich, responsive, WEB 2.0 Applications.

PHP

The Hypertext Preprocessor, as its name implies is a programming language which connects to HTTP (form the http:// part in every url) the HyperText Transfer Protocol. It started as a replacement for CGI scripts, and became a full-blown programming language. It’s pretty easy to learn, because it’s not strictly typed, it has a C like syntax.

If you are interested in Web technologies or website programming, you should definitely learn the PHP language, it has a lot of extensions and a wide range of frameworks for building websites and web applications. PHP powers the modern web, 82.4% of the websites online are written on PHP. Facebook was initially written in PHP, and the most used CMS (Content Management System) in the world, WordPress which runs on 25% of the websites is also written in PHP. It’s mostly used for building websites, but with the release of PHP 7, which brought huge performance improvements, it became quite a powerful generic programming language.

PHP programmers are mostly needed for building websites, and because the web standards and designs change constantly, there is ample work in building and re-building websites or supporting and adding new features to existing ones.

Read: Advantages and Disadvantages of Building a Website with PHP

SQL

SQL or Structured Query Language is the language which was originally designed to talk to Database Management Systems; it still does that, but not as it was originally intended. It was conceived to be a human to machine language, but nowadays it’s used from programming languages like PHP, C# etc. You can consider it obsolete, but it’s still used where you need to store any type of data and you want to retrieve it or create different reports.

You can think about it as a complementary language, because in most projects sooner or later you will find yourself in need of a data storage mechanism or you will need to query a database for some values. SQL comes in different flavors, every Database uses a slightly modified syntax, but in general they share the same vocabulary. MySQL and Oracle are the most popular ones but you often times find yourself using SQLite as lightweight database for your projects. If you pick a database and you really learn the ins and outs of it, then you can consider yourself as more of a Database Administrator than a Programmer really.

In conclusion, you can say that chances are pretty big that you will need to interface a database using SQL in a lot of projects, so you should definitely learn it, at least the basics.

Ruby

Ruby is a relatively new language, it appeared in 1995. It’s an object oriented general purpose programming language, which can support multiple programming paradigms like functional, OOP, imperative etc. It’s a great language for beginners, because it’s very easy to learn as a first language, that is true usually with most OOP languages.

The Ruby language was designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto to be productive and fun, and it did deliver on its promise. You can write programs extremely fast in it, it’s a great language for fast prototyping and trying out new ideas.

Ruby is used mostly for web development, because it has a great framework called Rails, sometimes it’s mentioned as Ruby on Rails or ROR. With Ruby on Rails creating a blog or even a shopping cart system can be a task that can be done in a matter of hours instead of maybe days or weeks in PHP for example. Overall the Rails framework is an excellent add on to the language. If you want to learn a first programming language then Ruby is great choice, and if you become good at it then more than likely you can find a job in web development, or just build your own website ideas, extremely fast.

Objective C

If you ask any C or C++ developer about Objective-C most likely the only thing they will know about it, is that it uses a lot brackets [ ], and while that is certainly true it does more than that. It’s a general-purpose OOP programming language.

ObjC got its brackets from Smalltalk and its fame for being the programming language used by Apple in developing the OS X and IOS. A lot of development for IOS devices is done using Objective-C as the language and Xcode as the IDE.

If you learn Objective-C then most likely you will become an IOS developer, there seems to be very few projects which are not tied to Apple using Objective-C. If you think that Apple is here to stay and you like the idea of building mobile applications either for a company, as a freelancer or just for fun, then Objective-C is the go to language.

The End

Hopefully, at least one of these programming languages sounds like something up your alley and will make it to the list of your acquirable skills for 2017. So which language are you planning to learn? Please let us know in the comments below!

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