The Most Common Computer Programming Languages
For reference, we thought that we should expand our site by adding an index of the most common computer programming languages currently in use today (2016).
Picking your starting language or your next language is a very important part of learning to be a programmer. If you know which programming languages are in demand, this process can become a bit easier, especially if you are planning on trying to use your programming skills to make money. While learning the most common computer programming language is not always the best way to learn to program, it can be the best way to make yourself marketable. Once you are able to get your foot in the door of the industry, it becomes much easier to be able to influence which languages you can work with. Now, without further jabbering about, here are the top ten most common computer programming languages currently in demand in 2016.
This is not a surprise really; Java has been around forever and because of how much it’s been used it will continue to be around forever. Java gained a lot of friction back in the late 1990s because of its platform independence. The major promise of Java is to be able to run on anything and for the most part it has succeeded in this. In fact, Java is the main language of the Android operating system.
As a language, Java is very easy for a new programmer to learn. It has a very distinct syntax and its imperative design makes it fairly simple to follow. Java also features some of the best development tools on the market due to its popularity. On the other hand, Java is very verbose and it can feel a bit sluggish to write as a consequence. It can handle concurrency but it doesn’t do it as well as many other languages can. Java 8 introduced some functional programming design features into the language and these can help a new programmer learn the basics of functional programming. Despite this, Java is mainly an object-oriented programming language.
Like Java, C’s popularity is not really a surprise. Originally developed in 1972, C is the
main language that is baked into many operating systems. The UNIX operating system was primarily written in C and as a consequence, any Unix based OSs still uses C. C is very lightweight and therefore can be used on any platform. C is also a very fast language which is why so many other languages have bindings which interlope with C. C is also still heavily used in the creation of Video Games and the tooling of these Video Games.
As a language, C features a lower level of abstraction than many other languages on this list. This ultimately means that C is a much more simple language to learn in many respects. C is an imperative language and it is very general purpose. You can also directly manipulate how to allocate memory with C which can be highly advantageous for many styles of programming. C is a very good language for new-comers to learn especially if they want to get into Operating System or Video Game design.
Most applications need databases. This is a fact in programming. With literally every language having access to SQL APIs, it’s not surprising that SQL is rated so highly as a language. SQL has been around for a very long time and it comes in many different flavors from postgreSQL to MySQL to Microsoft SQL and even SQLite. For a while, Non-SQL was making many waves and in some places it still is, but it will be very difficult for it to usurp the throne of SQL which has been around since 1974. Knowing SQL well guarantees you a job in programming as well as many other fields.
As a language, SQL is fairly simplistic. It is unique in that it utilizes relational algebra as it’s core even though it’s a declarative language. SQL is a language made to store and query data as well as manipulate said data through various means. Maintaining and creating databases can be a very fulfilling job and it is a very important part of programming in general. The level of abstraction with SQL is rather low which makes it much easier to understand on a concrete level.
Python was first introduced to the market back in 1991. In the 90s, python started to slowly gain a community following which would carry it to where it is today. The exponential popularity of Python is mostly attributed to its simple but powerful syntax and its vast array of libraries. Many large companies use Python as their core language for building everything. Libraries like Kivy and Django have pushed python into the mobile and web space. Its dynamic interpreter makes it ideal as a scripting language and a full-featured programming language.
As a language, Python supports a mainly Object Oriented design philosophy with some very strong functional language features. It uses a dynamic interpreter and stays true to the philosophy that being simple is better than being complex. Python is an excellent first language for a budding programmer and this is why many large Universities have adopted it as their language of choice. Python is highly extensible and comes with an extremely powerful package manager. It is used for everything from Statistics to Computer Game programming and even artificial intelligence.
Ruby first appeared on the scene in 1995. At first, Ruby, was just a little-known language that came out of Japan with a very small following. With the creation of Ruby on Rails, Ruby skyrocketed into relevance and has become one of the most powerful back-end languages on the web. Many future Model-View-Controller (MVC) frameworks have tried to copy the success of Ruby on Rails with varying degrees of success. Ruby is an example of how the creation of a killer app can completely alter the programming landscape.
As a language, Ruby follows a heavy Object Oriented design philosophy. It also supports imperative and functional programming. Ruby is a very easy language to get started with due to how simple and grammatical its syntax is. Drawing inspiration from Smalltalk, Lisp, and Perl, Ruby utilizes a dynamic type system and has a built-in interpreter. Like Python, Ruby is a very fun language to program in and it is very expressive. Though Ruby is mostly used as a back-end web language, it can easily work for many other applications.
Invented by Apple, Swift is the main language for iOS, taking the place of Objective-C. Swift was originally built to be safer than Objective-C and it first appeared on the scene in 2014. As you can imagine, with Apple holding such a large market share for mobile devices, Swift is an extremely sought after programming language. Swift is highly extensible and was made open source at version 2.2. It also targets the Microsoft .NET platform and as well as the Java/Android platform.
As a language, Swift is a highly expressive Object Oriented language similar to Objective-C. Swift draws a lot of influence from Python, Rust, Haskell, C# and Ruby. It also has a very simple syntax. Some clever programmers are porting Swift to the web but for now, it is primarily used for programming mobile applications. Swift was built on top of the LLVM compiler which means that it’s extremely flexible and compact.
Go or Golang was first introduced by google in 2007 as a low level, memory safe language. Originally made as an experiment, Go has exploded in popularity in the past 9 years. Go is very versatile and is used in everything from web development to lower level driver development. Go has a very reasonable syntax and it draws many of its features from C. Go is an easy language to learn and it is very powerful due to it having such a low level of abstraction. Go is used by many large companies for full corporate level applications.
As a language, Go follows a lot of the traditions that C has put forth but also draws many different features from dynamic languages. Go comes bundled with very strong tooling features and is an extremely lightweight language. Go draws its inspiration from C, Python, Smalltalk, and Ocamm. Go has extremely fast compilation times and built-in concurrency features.
R is a programming language that was specifically made for statistical analysis. Dating back to 1993, R is heavily used for developing statistical software and for data analysis. R is widely used in the scientific community and has a pretty fervent following. If you intend to get involved with Mathematics or Physics then R is probably a language you want to learn. R comes with many built-in features for statistical analysis and many libraries to help build plots and graphics.
As a language, R is similar to the S programming language, though it draws many influences from Common Lisp and Scheme, despite not having a Lisp syntax. While R can be used as a general purpose programming language with the right libraries it is mostly used for data mining and statistical purposes. The syntax is rather easy to pick up but the core language can be a little difficult to learn if you don’t have the appropriate mathematical background.
We know some people are going to get upset that we didn’t list C++ or C# in the top ten list of the most common programming languages and rightly so. We decided to that because C, C++, and C# are all rated around rank two, we should let a few other languages into our top ten so as to give a wider look at the different styles of programming that you can choose from. (though as an aside, it’s a little disappointing that no truly functional language is in the top ten). There will be a post about C++ and C# if enough people really are that upset about it.
We hope you enjoyed our top ten list of the most sought after and common computer programming languages. This page is aimed to help new programmers navigate the sea of languages and finds the language that is right for them. It is our plan to update this list as different languages become more relevant.