Top 10 Best Programming Languages to Learn (Most Popular & In Demand)

best programming language to learn
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The digital world of today has a very high reliance on programming languages. Every web or mobile application is designed using a computer programming language. This has stirred the question of the best programming language to learn in 2021, with inherent prospects for the future.

Today’s article is centered around this subject. We would highlight ten major programming languages and spell out some of the features, benefits, advantages, and popularity.

Ride along with us as we explore which programming language is best for you!

What is the best programming language to learn first?

There are many reasons that push anyone aspiring to become a programmer. Whether you want to learn it for web development or for building games, the reasons are best known to you. Lately, Blockchain coding became very popular. This significantly determines what programming language is best for you to begin with. Just as we will see, the choice of a language is determined by various reasons. These range from your current technical competencies to the language’s difficulty level.

In this article, we are going to unveil the top programming languages in wide use today. Therefore, we are going to cover computer programming languages which are popular and have high demand in the job market. With the bit we would cover, you can then decide which is the right for you to start with. 

Criteria for choosing the best programming language for you

It will be frustrating for anyone without the knowledge of the criteria required for choosing the right programming language. Beyond the technical criteria that are required, it is necessary for aspiring programmers to understand coding takes determination. Furthermore, most in-demand programming languages are harder to learn.

Before we delve into the top traits to have in order to learn to program, you must ask yourself if you are motivated enough.

Here are some of the top key criteria to consider in choosing the best programming language for you.

Technical qualities (use cases)

There are numerous programming languages in the world today. While most are general-purpose languages, they all have use cases unique to their inherent technical capabilities. The choice of a language

It is worth noting that based on the type of application they are been adopted for, each language has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, different languages are best suited for developing a web application compared to a banking/enterprise solution. The programming language that will perfectly code web apps may exhibit flaws for banking and vice versa.

Learning curve (how easy to learn)

For those mulling the question, what coding language should I learn? It is advisable to analyze the potential learning curve adequately. Our learning abilities differ. What can take someone a month to learn can take others several months. However, with a programming language, there are those ranked based on the ease of learning. These options are best to be explored by newcomers.

Another major factor that can wade an influence here is your previous experience. Do you already know a programming language, or are you familiar with the fundamentals of coding such as syntax? These factors can greatly influence how easy it can be for you to learn a new language.

Benefits

It is best to consider learning a language that has clear advantages you can benefit from. Some of these benefits include but are not limited to acceptability, robust community support, and potential remuneration for experts. In this article, we are going to be covering the main benefits of each programming language we discuss.

Downsides

It is only a myth if anyone tells you that a particular programming language has no flaws. There are downsides to all languages, and being aware of them can help you make a better choice. Just as we would cover the benefits, we would also share the obvious downsides to the programming languages on our list.

Demand & popularity

Programming language popularity is one of the vital criteria to consider before pitching your tent with any. What languages are in high demand from employers? Are there open-access resources to simplify your learning strides? Those aspiring to learn a new programming language must seek an objective answer to this and more queries before making their decision. iMi Blockchain will do its bit to show you the most used programming languages and which language ticks off on most of these criteria.

Our top 10 list of programming languages to learn in 2021

Having laid a foundation in the previous sections, let us dive into our pick of the top 10 programming languages. The table below shows a simple summary of these languages. We will give a more detailed exposition as we journey along. The rating in the table (Popular, and Ease of learning) was ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the least popular/very difficult and 5 being very popular and easy

Most popular programming languages list (comparison chart)

LanguageCommon use casesEasy to learnPopularity
PythonPython is widely used in scalable web applications, artificial intelligence, data science, game development, etc.Python is one of the easiest languages for beginners. Our rating is 4/5Arguably one of the most popular languages around today. Popularity rating is 5/5
JavaUsed in enterprise-grade web and application development, big data, etc.Java’s ease of learning is moderate to high. The rating score is 3/5High popularity. Secures a 5/5 rating
JavaScriptUsed to designing interactive front-end applications, desktop app development, etc.Relatively easy to learn. Rating score is 4.5/5Javascript is also popular amongst web app developers. Rating score 4.5/5
C#Well suited for web application development, Building games, and other backend programming among others.The ease of learning is easy to moderate. Rating score 3.5/5Popular, but lags behind Java. Rating score 4/5
SwiftPopular in developing iOS-based applications.Relatively easy to learn. Secures a rating score of 4/5Popular amongst iOS developers. Rating, 4.5/5
C and C++Deployed for applications requiring speed, video game, and commercial products including Firefox and Adobe.Relatively challenging to learn. Secures a rating of 2.5/5C++ is very popular among web developers. Rated 4/5
PHPUsed to write server-side scripts, web application developments, etc.Relatively easy to learn. Rating 4/5PHP has high popularity among web developers. Rating: 4/5
GoLangUsed in web and application development, distributed ledger system (blockchain programming), and growing use in data science.Moderately easy to learn for beginners, easy for experienced programmers. Rating 3.5/5Not so popular. Rating score; 3/5
RWidely used in data analysis, machine learning, and general statistical computing amongst others.Easy to moderate to learn. Rating: 3.5/5Not as popular as the other major programming languages. Rating: 3/5
SolidityUsed for smart contract development, decentralized applications, etc.Relatively easy to learn, however, it is a new language and may have limited support compared to other languages. Rating: 3.5/5Popularity is limited to the growing blockchain ecosystem. Rating: 3/5

1. Python

python

Python is a free, open-source programming language. The language has an extensive support module and community development. Python offers easy integration with web services, user-friendly data structures, and Graphic User Interface (GUI) based desktop applications. The simplicity of Python can be showcased in writing the simplest program as depicted below:

print(‘Hello, world!’)

The fact that Python is a High-Level Programming language, as well as its simple syntax makes it one of the goto modern tools recommended for beginners. 

Python is best for?

Python is widely used for developing scalable web applications. It finds good use in artificial intelligence, data science or machine learning, and game development amongst others. Python is the language reputed for such popular platforms as Google-owned YouTube, Facebook-backed Instagram, Pinterest, Quora, and SurveyMonkey amongst others.

Benefits

  • Python is easy to learn
  • There is an emphasis on code readability
  • The goto option for creating prototypes and testing
  • Python is scripted as opposed to being a compiled language, this makes it easier to use
  • Python is open-sourced and has a large community providing support and contributing to its growth

Downsides

  • The language does not start with coding basics. Abstraction for fundamentals may confuse new learners. As a beginner, you might consider learning SQL first.
  • As an interpreted language, Python is relatively slower compared to its peers
  • Python is not quite suitable for mobile computing

Popularity

Python is one of the most popular programs in active use today. Python developers are in high demand in major industries today. Its suitability for data analysis has also contributed to its popularity amongst data scientists. For a proficient Python programmer, the average salary per annum in the United States can range from $72,500 to $80,000.

2. Java

java

Java is an object-oriented high-level programming language that was developed by the Oracle Corporation. Java is designed to exhibit the Write Once, Run Anywhere (WORA) capabilities. This makes it suitable for usage across various applications and operating systems ranging from Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS respectively.

Java is best for?

Java is best for enterprise-grade web and app development, big data, etc. Java is deployed in the backend of popular platforms and web pages like Google, Twitter, and YouTube amongst others.

Benefits

  • Java covers the basics of coding and can be a good start for beginners
  • Its versatility across various Operating Systems is a plus for developers
  • Java enjoys the backing of Oracle, one of the biggest tech firms in the world
  • Unlike Python, Java is ideal for distributed computing
  • Java has a plethora of APIs that aid various tasks including XML Parsing, Database connections, etc.

Downsides

  • Java coding offers little or no templates, this brings limitations to creating a high-quality data structure
  • Java is also relatively slower compared to Scala, C, and C++
  • Managing memory usage in Java can be quite daunting

Popularity

Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world today. Its general-purpose function makes those proficient in the language in high demand. According to Salary.com, about the 50th Percentile of Java developers in the US earns an average of $95,353 on an annual basis.

3. Javascript

javascript

Javascript is a front-end programming language that conforms to the ECMAScript specification. Unlike Javascript and Python, it is not a general-purpose programming language but an interpreted scripting language. Javascript made its debut in 1995 as one of the core technologies of the World Wide Web. JavaScript supports event-driven, functional, and imperative programming styles. It has application programming interfaces (APIs) for working with text, dates, regular expressions, standard data structures, and the Document Object Model (DOM).

Javascript is best for?

Javascript is best used in designing interactive front-end applications, and desktop app development, amongst others. Amongst the most prominent applications built using Javascript include Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo, and eBay amongst others.

Benefits

  • The client-side Javascript runs within the web browser without a need for compilation, this guarantees speed
  • Implementing Javascript on a website is easy to do, especially using node.js
  • Javascript has a number of unique add-ons that can boost its functionalities
  • Javascript has broad community support with an easily accessible library

Downsides

  • Though versatile, Javascript codes may be interpreted differently by various browsers
  • Javascript keeps no copy or there are no equivalent methods
  • Allows just a single inheritance

Popularity

Javascript is one of the most popular programming languages for web application development. Anyone with good skill in Javascript will meet with high demand and profitable profession. In the US, the average annual remuneration of a Javascript developer is pegged at $83,300 according to Daxx.com.

4. C#

c programming language

C# (with the ‘#’ sign pronounced as ‘sharp) is a Microsoft corporation-developed programming language. C# is described as a general-purpose, multi-paradigm programming language encompassing static typing, strong typing, lexically scoped, imperative, declarative, functional, generic, object-oriented (class-based), and component-oriented programming disciplines. C# comes with a .NET framework dubbed Mono, a free and open-source project to develop a cross-platform compiler and runtime environment (i.e. virtual machine) for the language.

C# is best for?

C# as a general-purpose language is ideal for various use cases, top of which is web development, building video games, and another Windows-related backend programming among others. Some of the top applications built with C# include Adobe Photoshop, some Google applications, and the Xbox games to mention a few.

Benefits

  • C# enjoys robust support as it is integrated with the .NET library
  • C# is suitable for all types of Windows-powered applications
  • C# is a fast language as it offers a swift compilation and execution times
  • The programming language provides for easy scalability and update
  • It has a robust set of library functions and data types

Downsides

  • C# is not as flexible as the other C programming languages
  • Comes off as one of the languages with a steep learning curve
  • Debugging may require time, effort, and expertise

Popularity

There is a growing notion that C# is becoming less popular today. However, this is erroneous as it is one of the first languages in the .NET library, with its influence still inherent today. An average C# software developer earns an average of $100,000 per annum.

5. Swift

swift programming language

Swift is the programming language purpose-built for the Apple-born iOS applications. iOS apps are ever becoming popular as they carve a unique niche for themselves. This stirred the development of the Swift programming language by Apple in 2014 for Linux and Mac applications. The language is open-source and it supports almost everything from the programming language Objective-C.

Swift is best for?

Popular in developing iOS-based applications. The programming language also finds uses in popular applications like WordPress, Mozilla Firefox, SoundCloud, and other mobile apps games.

Benefits

  • Swift has a clean syntax and is easy to learn
  • Has an interoperability feature with Objective-C
  • The language is open source and easy to add new features
  • Swift is much faster when compared to other programming languages like Python
  • It is possible to integrate Server-side Swift with any technology

Downsides

  • Despite its open-source nature, it has limited community support
  • Has poor interoperability with third-party tools
  • Has no support for old iOS versions, supports only iOS7 or later apps

Popularity

Swift is a relatively new language but gaining popularity amongst Apple iOS application developers. The demand for proficient Swift developers is high, and the average salary is pegged at about $96,000.

6. C and C++

c programming language 1

C++ is a general-purpose programming language created by Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension of the C programming language, or “C with Classes”. It is one of the most fundamental languages for writing all low-level systems such as operating systems, and file systems amongst others.

C++ is best for?

C++ is ideal for designing system applications requiring speed. It is also used for video games, and commercial products of which Firefox and Adobe are some of the most popular.

Benefits

  • It is one of the most relevant languages for learning the fundamentals of programming at the machine level
  • The ‘C’ component offers an enormous degree of portability
  • C++ as a general-purpose language has broad applicability bordering around GUI applications, web developments, games, and more
  • Programs are executive faster than other languages
  • Programs are relatively easy to comprehend when written in

Downsides

  • Both C and C++ have a complex syntax that may be complicated for beginners
  • C and C++ may not be ideal for advanced or modern real-world applications
  • The incidence of memory corruption or buffer overflow is not uncommon

Popularity

C and C++ have had their reign as one of the most popular programming languages in the world. While they are still relevant, there has been a continuous embrace of more modern programming languages today. Annual remuneration for a proficient C/C++ programmer is an average of $76,000.

7. PHP

php programming

PHP is an open-source programming language most notable for backend programming. Known to power as much as 70% of the websites in use today, however, PHP is facing stiff competition from other programming languages amongst web developers. Nonetheless, the demand among startups for PHP developers is ever increasing.

PHP is best for?

The programming language is one of the functional programming languages and is ideal for web development, writing server-side scripts, and other backend developments.

Benefits

  • Programmers have a lot of frameworks to work with
  • Has a plethora of automation tools for testing and deploying applications
  • One of the simplest languages for web development
  • Open source and relatively cost-effective

Downsides

  • Its functionalities are enhanced by extensions
  • Unlike other languages, PHP lags behind in robust security
  • PHP has a poor error handling provision

Popularity

PHP is very popular amongst web and app developers. The average annual salary is $81,000.

8. GoLang

golang

Golang, shortened as ‘Go’ is a Google-developed programming language dedicated to web applications and APIs. GoLang supports multithreading and as such is highly used by firms building distributed system software. GoLang is also used for blockchain development. Go Ethereum is one of the three original implementations of the Ethereum network after C++ and Python.

GoLang is best for?

Go is best used in web and application development, distributed ledger systems (blockchain programming), and growing use in data science. Popular companies using GoLang include Uber, Twitch, Dropbox, Google, and other popular Silicon Valley startups.

Benefits

  • Its affiliation with Google gives Go robust support
  • Go brandishes a clean syntax, making it easy to learn
  • Very suitable for building Single-Page Applications
  • GoLang is fast as it is compiled to machine language
  • Has smart documentation

Downsides

  • Golang lack a GUI Library
  • Lacks a virtual machine, hence complex codes are less efficient

Popularity

GoLang is very popular in Silicon Valley amongst programmers, however, its popularity is not completely global. According to Ziprecruiter, the average salary of GoLang developers can be as high as $128,700 per annum.

9. R

r programming language

R is an open-source programming language designed for statistical computing. The R language is very popular. Used among statisticians and data miners for developing statistical software and data analysis. The language has good compatibility with S, as most programs on S can run on R without lots of modifications. This aids easy integration.

R is best for?

As highlighted, R is ideal for building algorithms in data science amongst coders working on big data as well as in building machine learning models.

Benefits

  • R is an open-source language
  • Ideal for large data management
  • Has a functional and robust community and ecosystem

Downsides

  • Not as secure as other languages
  • Slow when compared to its major competitor, Python
  • Objects are stored physically and can increase the cost of running the programming effectively

Popularity

R is arguably one of the most popular or goto programming languages for data science. However, the popularity of R is waning due to the growing use of Python for similar roles. R programmers have an annual average take-home salary of $91,000.

10. Solidity 

solidity programming language

Solidity is an object-oriented, high-level language for implementing smart contracts. The programming language was first proposed by Gavin Wood and was later developed by the Ethereum project’s Solidity team. Solidity was influenced by other programming languages like Python and JavaScript and is designed to target the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

Solidity is best for?

The blockchain-centric programming language is ideal for smart contract development and decentralized applications that are EVM compatible. 

Benefits

  • Security is a major upside for Solidity
  • Ideal for creating automated multiparty contracts on the Ethereum blockchain
  • Multiple type-safe functions are also supported in Solidity through facilitating ABI(Application Binary Interface)

Downsides

  • The upgradability of smart contracts is difficult once it is been created
  • Solidity comes with its flaws as a relatively new language that is yet to be developed like its counterparts like Python
  • Debugging can be relatively difficult

Popularity

Solidity is a unique language that is common only amongst developers building smart contracts on Ethereum. It is not a general-purpose language and as such, limits its broad acceptance and integration.

Other computer programming languages worth mentioning

As coders are innovative to solve different issues they work hard to develop new programming languages. This is why our top 10 list of the best programming language will never be final. There are two must know languages and one aspiring language that we’d like to mention next. Let us add them to our list as numbers 11 to 13.

11. Kotlin

kotlin programming language

Kotlin was developed in 2011 by JetBrains and fully documented on GitHub. It is a general-purpose and cross-platform language. Designed to interoperate with Java and JVM. Kotlin is widely used for native iOS apps sharing business logic with Android apps. Furthermore, Kotlin is the preferred programming language of Android app developers.

12. HTML & CSS

html css programming

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the basic programming language for website developers. Some people would say that HTML and CSS are not real programming languages. It is important to understand that HTML and CSS are quite different than others. Both are considered declarative languages. In simple words, HTML and CSS are basic statements declaring what should exist on a web page. Other coding languages are computational and that’s what makes these two different. So if you are an absolute beginner, then you should first learn basic HTML and CSS coding.

13. Ruby

ruby programming

Ruby is a high-level interpreted language for general-purpose programming. Don’t get confused about Ruby and Ruby on Rails which are two completely different subjects. Ruby was influenced by Perl, Ada, Lisp, and other languages. Ruby became very popular when Airbnb was introduced. Airbnb uses Ruby as its main programming language for its booking website.

Key takeaways

The world of computer science has given birth to a whole new crop of unique programming languages suitable for various use cases. From software development to iOS or Android app creation, there is a language that is suitable. For anyone willing to start off on learning a programming language, there are key criteria to take note of before pitching their tents. Some of these criteria include technical qualities, learning curve, demand and popularity, benefits, and downsides, amongst others.

Beyond these, the choice of the right programming language should be backed by your underlying goals. If you want to be a web developer, Python, PHP, and C# amongst others may be right for you. If your goal is to be a data analyst, you may want to look into R and Python. Let your goal influence your choice of programming language to embrace.

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FAQs on the best coding languages to learn

What programming language should I learn first?

The choice of the best programming language to learn can only be made by you when you have come to terms with your goals. Additionally, you will need to consider other key factors about the programming languages you are considering. These factors include the technical difficulty, availability of resources or tutorials amongst others. Only settle for a language that you are comfortable with, and that which will meet your ultimate goals at the end of the day.

What is the easiest programming language to learn?

Every programming language has its difficulty level. The best beginner programming language in terms of ease of learning cannot be applied as a rule of thumb for everyone. While learning a new and supposedly simple programming language may be easy for someone with coding experience, it may be more difficult for absolute beginners. Again, no language is easy or hard, it only depends on your experience and other factors.

What is the best programming language to learn for getting a job?

If you are on the hunt for the best programming language to learn for a job, it will be ideal to opt for the more open-source, general-purpose languages such as Python, and C# amongst others. You may need to do more research to find out the in-demand language amongst startups within your region, country, or location of choice.

What is required for a full-stack developer?

A full-stack developer works with both the front and back ends of an application or website. Therefore, you should have strong project management skills and proficiency with front-end languages such as HTML/CSS as well as familiarity with JavaScript frameworks such as Angular JS, React, and Amber.

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Marcel Isler

Marcel Isler

Marcel is a Business Economist and founder of iMi Blockchain. A Consultant and international Keynote Speaker. He studied at the University of Oxford. He helps enterprises to implement Blockchain applications. On our blog, he writes about distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, cryptocurrencies, industry news, and future trends.

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