The Best Programming Languages to Learn in 2018

Updated on September 3, 2018

Here’s our list, in order from the best programming language to learn.

1. Java

Java, a general-purpose language, has been a pillar in the world of computer programming for more than 20 years. The key to its fame has been it “write once, run anywhere” philosophy. Apparently, you can write Java software on any machine, compile it into low-level machine code, and then execute it on any platform that’s implemented with a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This means Java is highly cross-platform compatible. Over 500 companies practice Java as a server-side language for backend development. To top it off, the Apache Hadoop data processing system is written in Java and is run by Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure.

Thanks to its versatility and universality, Java is a common language for beginners to learn, and it’s used in many fundamental programming courses.

With so many different use cases, Java is a sure bet for programmers looking for a flexible, modular language with established business applications, and therefore job possibilities.

2. Python

Python is possibly the most user-friendly programming language of any on this list. It’s usually said that Python’s syntax is clear, natural and almost English-like, which, like Java, makes it a popular option for beginners.

It is used for web development and as a support language for software developers.

Python also has packages such as NumPy and SciPy that are usually used in the fields of scientific computing, mathematics, and engineering. Other Python libraries such as TensorFlow, PyTorch, sci-kit-learn, and OpenCV are used to build programs in data science, machine learning, image processing and computer vision. Python's science and data applications make it an excellent choice for the academically preferred.

The continued increase and interest for machine learning developers may be driving the popularity of Python.

3. JavaScript

It’s impossible to be a software developer these days without using JavaScript in any way. According to Stack Overflow's 2018 Developer Survey, JavaScript is the most popular language with developers for the sixth year in a row. Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents stated that they had used JavaScript in the past year.

Beside with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is necessary to front-end web development. A bulk of the web’s most popular sites, from Facebook and Twitter to Gmail and YouTube, rely on JavaScript to create interactive web pages and dynamically display content to users.

Front-end structures for JavaScript such as React and AngularJS have become more popular. It can also be used on the server-side through Node.js to build scalable network applications. Node.js is compatible with Linux, SunOS, Mac OS X, and Windows.

Because JavaScript has an accepting, flexible syntax and works over all major browsers, it is one of the friendliest programming languages for beginners.

4. C++

C++ developed very little in popularity from early 2017 to now. One of the most direct successors of C is the C++ programming language. C++ builds on C, which gives it many of the same benefits, but C++ is an object-oriented language and hence is a better option when developing higher-level applications. C++ is an especially popular choice for computer graphics, video games, and virtual reality, system/application software, game development, drivers, client-server applications and embedded firmware.

Most of the programmers find C++ complicated and more difficult to learn.

5. C#

C# (pronounced C Sharp) is a general-purpose, object-oriented language developed on the foundations of C. It was originally designed by Microsoft as part of its .NET framework for building Windows applications. It went down slightly in demand this year.

Anyone interested in VR development should consider learning C#. C# is the suggested language for building 3D and 2D video games using the popular Unity game engine, which produces one-third of the top games on the market.

6. PHP

Another solid option for web developers is PHP. This is a server-side scripting language. PHP is also popular thanks to the role it plays in the WordPress content management system, which makes website development friendly to the masses. If you want to work as a freelance web developer, PHP is a practical language to learn.

7. Perl

Perl is a dynamic programming language. Perl popular for system administration, network administrators and other applications, such as for GUIs.


Here is a swift review of the different opportunities that we’ve discussed:

Front-end web development: JavaScript
Back-end web development: JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby
Mobile development: Swift, Java, C#
Game development: C++, C#
Desktop applications: Java, C++, Python
Systems programming: C, Rust

© 2018 Shaad Salman

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