Best programming language to learn in 2022
Whether you’re an experienced developer or just starting out, adding a new programming language to your skills list can be a powerful way to stand out in a competitive job market. Being willing and eager to learn is important, but knowing which programming language to choose can feel overwhelming and confusing.
Keep reading to better understand the most popular programming languages, their average annual salaries, and a brief overview of their strengths.
Types of programming languages
When evaluating programming languages, it is important to understand that each language has its own unique features, frameworks, and style. Since the classification of programming languages can be somewhat subjective, consider each type as a philosophy rather than a strict definition.
Procedural programming languages work through code in a logical and structured order using procedures, modules, and procedure calls. Although some scenarios are best handled by the top-down simplicity of procedural programming, emphasis is placed on operation rather than data, making it difficult to relate to real-world solutions.
Object-oriented programming is built using objects containing data, attributes, properties, and methods. By using four fundamental concepts (inheritance, encapsulation, polymorphism, and data abstraction), object-oriented programming languages increase code reuse, ensure data security, and make existing applications easier to maintain.
Functional programming focuses on evaluating expressions, prioritizing results over processes. Unit testing and debugging makes functional programming efficient to increase developer productivity, but the learning curve is not easy for beginners and the code can be difficult to maintain.
Scripting programming languages provide instructions that are interpreted individually, at runtime, instead of being compiled in advance. Specific features and functionality will depend on the runtime environment used, but the strengths remain the same: ease of learning, fast development, and fast debugging.
Logic programming languages contain familiar-looking, easy-to-read instructions detailing what needs to be accomplished. By removing the need to understand how tasks are accomplished, developers can focus on the knowledge and rules that will lead to end results.
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Most popular programming languages
Described as a general-purpose language, Python can read and write files and directories, create GUIs and APIs, power web development frameworks, and more. With a simple syntax and a large community of developers to rely on, Python is considered one of the easiest programming languages to learn.
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Java is a powerful programming language with platform independence and version resilience – code that was written in Java decades ago is likely to work flawlessly today. Whether used for web applications, Android applications, desktop software, or scientific applications, Java is one of the most diverse programming languages in use today.
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SQL is the perfect companion programming language for everyone else, and arguably the most important in this data-driven world. Short for Structured Query Language, SQL provides the means to create, populate, and manage databases.
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HTML is the most basic programming language, used in web design to deliver browser content. Basic programming tasks are easy to perform with HTML, but experienced programmers know how to use this language to create content that is accessible, engaging, and cross-browser/cross-platform compatible.
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CSS is the new coat of paint and the new showcase of the programming world, but it is quickly becoming one of the most important languages. Designed to make front-end layouts beautiful and functional, CSS contributes to the usability and accessibility of web applications.
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C# (pronounced “C Sharp”) is part of Microsoft’s .NET platform. Commonly used when developing desktop applications, C# is also known to be the language behind the Unity game engine.
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Although some developers choose to use Objective-C, Swift is the recommended programming language for those looking to build apps for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Apple created Swift as a safe, fast, and fun way to create clean, consistent code.
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C++ is one of the most powerful, versatile, and sophisticated object-oriented programming languages. The strength of C++ is seen when it powers CPU- and graphics-heavy software like Unreal Engine and gaming consoles including Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.
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PHP is one of the most widely used general purpose scripting languages. PHP is platform independent, supports all major web servers, and has a huge library of open source software available to draw upon. These include content management systems (CMS) and e-commerce platforms.
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Although they may not be the most popular, there are a few programming languages that are still used by many programmers:
Used by scientists and engineers, MATLAB is a proprietary programming language developed by MathWorks that is designed to analyze data and create algorithms. Although MATLAB is most often used by universities, it is gaining ground in the image processing industry.
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R excels in the manipulation and graphical representation of statistical data and is popular with researchers.
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Ruby is a popular open-source programming language used most often in web development, data analysis, and prototyping. It is often considered a popular programming language for beginners.
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How to choose a programming language
Deciding which programming language to learn can seem overwhelming and confusing. The following criteria can help determine which programming language is best to learn or use for a specific project.
- learning curve: Consider learning a language that builds on existing skills. For those new to software development, it can be helpful to know that the first language is always the hardest to learn, so it’s a good idea to start with something manageable.
- Development speed: Successful programming is not limited to how quickly programmers can create code. Be sure to factor in debugging time, testing time, and ongoing maintenance tasks.
- Find a community: Peer support can make a huge difference in the learning process. Being able to ask questions, browse through past support requests, and flip through documentation is invaluable.
- Understand compliance and security requirements: Some industries require data security and secure coding practices that may not be available with all programming languages.
- Have a practical project in mind: The best way to learn a language is to put some code into action and create something. Even though it’s just a passion project, nothing prepares a developer better than hands-on experience.
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