Learning a programming language takes a big commitment of both time and energy, so you’ll want to make sure you are investing your resources into a language that aligns with your projects. For example, you would use different programming languages to build a website than you would to build a video game.
So which programming language should you learn? In this article, we’re going to provide you with a list of the top seven programming languages to learn for a variety of use cases.
Use Cases: Almost anything
Companies Using Python: Instagram, Uber, Dropbox, Netflix and Spotify
Python is an object-oriented, general purpose programming language. This means you can use it for almost anything. Data scientists use Python to analyze data; web developers use Python to build back-end websites; and engineers use the language for software development.
This is a major advantage because once you’ve learned the basics of Python, you can apply your skills to a range of different topics. So, if you’re not exactly sure what types of projects you want to explore, Python can be a safe bet for your first language to learn.
Python is perhaps the most user-friendly language out there. Python code is easy to read and many people say it resembles English.
Use Cases: Front-end web development
Use Cases: Apple development
Companies Using Swift: Airbnb, Kickstarter, Khan Academy, LinkedIn and Apple
If you want to build applications for Apple products, knowing Swift is useful. In 2014, Apple announced it was launching a new programming language, Swift, which would be used to develop applications for their devices.
Since Swift was launched, it has gained wide support in the Apple development community. The language is fast – 2.6x faster than Objective-C, according to Apple – and easy to use. Apple also provides a range of tutorials that make it easy to get started with Swift.
In addition, because Apple devices are so popular, you can expect your Swift skills to be in demand for the foreseeable future. You can use Swift to build apps for iOS apps, watchOS, the Mac and more.
Use Cases: Scripting and web development
Companies Using Ruby: Crunchbase, Dribbble, Bloomberg, GitHub and Airbnb
Ruby is an open-source programming language focused on simplicity and productivity. The language uses a simple set of rules that are easy to understand and read.
The Ruby programming language is particularly popular with beginners because it has a strong developer community willing to support newbies.
Another reason Ruby has become popular is due to the rise of Ruby on Rails, a web development framework built on top of Ruby. This framework makes it easy to build the client-side and server-side code for a web application and has been adopted by companies like Twitter and Shopify to power some of their core websites.
Use Cases: Microsoft app development, mobile development and game development
Companies Using C#: Boeing, Citi, Intuit, Microsoft and Stack Overflow
C#, which is pronounced “C sharp,” is a general purpose programming language built on top of C. Microsoft developed the C# programming language because Sun, who created Java, didn’t want it to make changes to their language.
The C# language has a wide range of use cases. Although the coding language was initially designed to be part of Microsoft’s .NET framework, today it is used for everything from mobile development to Microsoft app development.
You can even use C# to build 2D and 3D video games because the game engine Unity, which is used by many professional game developers, only supports the C# language. Learning C# will give you a number of arrows to put in your programming quiver.
Use Cases: Desktop application development, Android development and web development
Companies Using Java: Pinterest, Uber, Spotify, Google and Netflix
Java was created by Sun Microsystems in 1995 and has built a strong reputation for being a powerful and stable programming language. The applications of Java are numerous.
Many Java developers use the language to build desktop applications – Minecraft, for example, was built using Java – but there’s a lot more to this programming language. The Android operating system, which powers more than two billion devices, was built using Java, meaning most applications for Android are also built using Java.
Java is a great programming language to learn not just because of its potential applications, but because of its simplicity. While Java may not be as easy to learn as a language like Python, it is still very friendly for beginners. As if that weren’t enough, Java comes with a range of open-source libraries which you can use to customize your code.
Use Cases: Systems programming
Companies Using Go: Twitch, SendGrid, Dropbox, BBC and SoundCloud
Go, which is sometimes called Golang, is an open-source programming language that allows you to build reliable programs efficiently. A team of engineers at Google developed the language and it has since become favored by other engineers who want to work on systems programming.
One advantage of using Go is that it offers many of the features available in C, but without the steep learning curve. You can use Go to build data pipelines, web servers, distributed systems and more.
Go is also known to be a fast programming language thanks to being low-level, meaning when you develop an application using Go, you know it’s going to be speedy.
Time to Learn
Deciding which programming language to learn is intimidating, especially if you’re learning your first language. What if you make the wrong decision? Well, there’s good news: there really is no wrong decision. Sure, some languages may only be useful for certain applications, but knowing any programming language will benefit your career.
The most important step before making a final decision is to verify which language will align best with your future app projects.
Do you want to build data science apps? Maybe learning Python would be best. Do you want to build apps for iOS? Swift is a great language for that.
We’ve presented you with seven options above, but there are still a lot more out there that we didn’t cover. So if you don’t see a language here that appeals to you, don’t worry, you can research and choose another option.
But don’t spend too long choosing a language to learn. Many developers quickly move on to another language after mastering their first one, so you need to keep pace with the pack. Consider which language meets your goals, and start coding!