The programmers have the option to choose from a wide range of programming languages while writing software applications or learning software development. The programming languages differ from each other in several aspects – programming paradigm support, language features, ecosystem, security vulnerabilities, and community strength. Also, the popularity of programming languages keeps changing from time to time. I wrote on the same topic back in 2016 December and if you see that list you would understand that some of the top programming languages in the 2017 list still exist in the 2021 list. Many websites help novice and experienced programmers to identify the top programming languages to learn in 2021 by comparing the technologies using various parameters. But the programmers must focus on learning and knowing the in-demand programming languages proactively.
Like C, C++ is one of the mature programming languages whose popularity has remained intact over the years. Like C, C++ allows programmers to control the underlying hardware fully. Bit C++, unlike C, supports object-oriented programming paradigms. Many programmers still rely on C++ while developing resource-constrained and mission-critical systems. C++ finds a lot of applications in IoT, machine learning, deep learning, real-time systems, embedded systems, distributed systems, and systems programming. However, new-age programming languages like Go and Rust have been challenging the dominance of C++ continuously.
Initially, Java was used widely by programmers for the development of complex and platform-independent programming languages. But Java is currently one of the most preferred programming languages for web application and mobile app development. In addition to being one of the official programming languages for Android app development, Java is used widely by programmers for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, IoT, and big data projects. Also, Java has remained one of the most trusted programming languages for enterprise application development. The latest version of Java supports both object-oriented and functional programming paradigms.
Python is one of the programming languages that emphasize code readability and programmer productivity. Its simple syntax rules make Python hugely popular among beginners. But Python is currently one of the most widely used server-side web technologies. I love Python because of the reason that Python is very flexible : the mature programming language is one of the most preferred programming languages for big data, AI, and IoT. However, programmers have to use specific frameworks to write different software applications in Python. For instance, they need to learn frameworks like Django, Flask, CherryPy, Bottle, or TurboGears to use Python as a robust web programming language.
Microsoft developed this new-age programming language and included it in the .NET platform. Initially, C# was regarded as Microsoft’s alternative to Java. But C# has been evolving consistently to become a robust general-purpose programming language. In addition to supporting both object-oriented and functional programming paradigms, the most recent version of the programming language runs on Windows and Linux. In addition to being a popular server-side programming language, programmers use C# is currently for building software applications and games for the Windows platform. Many developers even write Android and iOS applications in C# using open-source mobile app platforms like Xamarin.
PHP was developed as a dynamic and general-purpose programming language. Programmers do not opt for PHP while developing desktop GUI applications and mobile apps. But PHP is currently one of the most preferred server-side web technologies.
According to W3Tech.com,
“PHP is used by 78.9% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.”
Also, WordPress – the most popular content management system (CMS) – is written in PHP. The developers also have the option to simplify and accelerate custom web application development using a number of popular PHP frameworks – Laravel, Symphony, CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Yii and Zend.
Despite being written in C, R differs from other widely used programming languages in the category of syntax rules. But R was developed with features to simplify the implementation of statistical and graphical techniques. In addition to supporting linear and nonlinear data modeling, R is an extensible programming language. The programmers can easily extend R using specific functions, libraries, and extensions. At present, R finds a lot of usage to simplify big data processing by enterprises from many sectors – banking, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, e-commerce and social media. The programmers working on data science, machine learning, and statistical computing projects must learn R in 2021.
According to the latest database trends, relational databases are much more popular than non-relational databases. While developing software applications, the programmers have to work with several licensed and open-source relational databases including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. They cannot work with these relational databases efficiently without knowing structured query language (SQL). The programmers need to learn SQL along with other client-side and server-side technologies. The knowledge is essential to manage databases, manipulate big data, deliver data-based information, and build data-driven software applications.
Apple released the first version of Swift in 2014. In a short span of time, Swift has emerged as one of the top programming languages. Many programmers these days prefer Swift to Objective-C while building applications for iOS and macOS. Apple has been updating the open-source programming language regularly to keep its popularity intact. Apple makes it easier for beginners and non-beginners to learn Swift by launching Swift Playgrounds. The novice programmers can use Swift Playgrounds to learn the programming language from scratch and experiment with complex code.
JetBrains developed Kotlin as a general-purpose and statically-typed programming language. In a short span of time, Kotlin became one of the top programming to learn as one of the official programming languages for Android. Google encourages mobile app developers to switch from Java to Kotlin while writing Android mobile apps. It further makes it easier for beginners to learn the new-age programming language by offering free Android/Kotlin developer courses. In addition to being fully interoperable with Java, Kotlin helps developers to write clean and concise code. The massive worldwide market share of Android will keep Kotlin one of the most in-demand programming languages.
Google launched this procedural and compiled programming language in 2009. They developed Go with features to speed up system programming. Its design rule emphasizes on integrating the simplicity of Python and the robustness of C. Go aims to make it easier for programmers to write simple, efficient, and reliable applications. In a short span of time, Go has become one of the most preferred programming languages for enterprise application development, system computing, serverless computing, and cloud-native software development. Also, Go is currently one of the most preferred programming languages for IoT.
Ruby was originally developed as an object-oriented scripting language. But the scripting language subsequently evolved into a general-purpose programming language. At present, Ruby supports multiple programming paradigms – object-oriented, functional, and dynamic. It is currently one of the most preferred programming languages for web development. In addition to being easy to learn, Ruby emphasizes on boosting developer productivity. However, the developers have to use frameworks like Ruby on Rails while writing custom web applications in Ruby. Also, the developers can easily extend the programming language using a wide range of Ruby gems.
According to TIOBE.com, ‘Almost 10 years after its birth, programming language Rust enters the TIOBE index top 20 for the first time. Is this surprising? Rust has been awarded “the most loved programming language” by Stackoverflow users for the last 5 years.’
Many programmers prefer Rust to conventional system programming languages like C and C++ to write more reliable code without putting in extra time and effort. The programmers opt for Rust to build new-generation software applications like operating systems, browser components, file systems, game engines, and simulation engines for virtual reality (VR). They further leverage Rust Tool-chains to simplify the development and maintenance of production-quality software applications.
The demand for and popularity of programming languages change from time to time. Recently, the demand for COBOL increased unexpectedly and unprecedentedly due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Hence, programmers cannot keep their skills relevant and enhance career prospects in the long run without learning multiple programming languages. They must keep track of the top programming languages to learn regularly to boost reskilling and up-skilling efforts.