Programming languages are all around us, working behind the scenes to make text appear on screens, search results load, elements move, and so much more. From a mobile app, to a smart home device, to an eCommerce website, a programming language or several were used to create what you see and use.
What is a programming language though? A programming language is used to control the behaviour of a machine (usually a computer) or a program. A programming language is similar to a spoken language as it follows syntax and semantics. Learning a programming language is a lot like learning a regular language: it takes lots of time and patience to master.
More and more in-demand jobs are requiring tech and programming skills so if you’re interested in a lucrative and challenging career, learning programming may be for you.
There are literally thousands of programming languages and professional programmers may use dozens of different languages in their career. Today we’ll be looking at the top programming languages you need to know.
Java is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world, used by over nine billion developers. It is known for its readability, simplicity and long-term compatibility—which is a big bonus because it means older applications will work well into the future. James Gosling created Java in 1995 and it was originally designed for interactive television, but it was too advanced for cable television at the time. Java is named after everyone’s favourite cup of joe and Gosling designed it with the programming language C/C++ syntax in mind so that it would feel familiar to other developers.
SQL, pronounced “sequel” and short for “Structured Query Language,” is a back-end programming language that focuses on database technology. It comes in various sub-languages like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL. Just about every person and company works with SQL in some shape or form, from small business owners to enterprises, and banks to universities. This is because SQL is a standard language for accessing and manipulating databases. SQL was released in 1986 by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce.
C++, pronounced C-Plus-Plus, is the evolution of the programming language C. It was first developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1983. C++ is an intermediate-level language and is widely used in systems software engineering, as well as gaming, finance, healthcare, and defense. Although it’s not the oldest computer language, it is one of the older ones being used today so one might give it an A++ for adaptability in modern times.
C#, pronounced C-Sharp, is a relatively new web language developed by Microsoft in 2000. Its development team is led by Anders Hejlsberg. C# is the modern and more simple evolution of the C and C++ programming languages and it rivals Java in similarity. It was designed for developing web and mobile applications on the Microsoft platform and requires the .NET framework on Windows to work. C# has many features that make it easy to learn, but it is complex in nature and mastering it will take more time than learning a simpler language like Python.
Python is a multi-purpose programming language that was designed to be easy to read, resembling the English language. This makes it a great language for beginners. It’s often the language of choice for introductory programming courses and it’s taught in many educational institutions. Python was created by Guido van Rossum in 1990 and named after the British television show, Monty Python—so you know it’s fun to use!
PHP was originally created by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994 to help him maintain his Personal Home Page (PHP). Today, PHP is one of the most popular programming languages since it’s fairly easy to learn for new programmers but also contains more advanced features for higher-level programmers. PHP runs on the server-end and can be used to create web pages written in HTML.
Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails, or Rails, is a server-side web application framework that allows you to use the programming language Ruby on the web. It was released in 2004 by David Heinemeier Hansson. Ruby itself is an open-source programming language which Hansson said he created to make a simple programming language that would make other programmers happy. Ruby is a good beginner’s language for developers because it’s flexible and robust in its syntax and does a lot of the hard work for you.
Swift was created by Apple so that their iOs and OS X developers could use it to create their next app. Chris Lattner is the mastermind behind Swift, releasing the code in 2014. Swift is an intuitive general-purpose programming language for macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux. Swift code is concise and expressive, as well as open-source and easy-to-use so anyone can create apps with it. It’s even available to learn on the iPad.
Perl was developed by Larry Wall in 1987. It is a general-purpose programming language that can handle encrypted web data, including eCommerce transactions. It is often used in finance programming, CGI, and graphics. Perl is both dynamic and versatile, gaining its popularity as a programming language because it gets along so well with others. Many large web-based applications are written solely in Perl. Often referred to as “the duct tape that holds the Internet together,” Perl is actually two individual languages, Perl 5 and Perl 6, which work separately from one another.
If you’re interested in web development, you might want to put learning one of these languages on your to-do list.
Passing the talking baton on to you, reader. What programming languages do you know, or aspire to learn?