Coding literacy has become a common skill requirement in recent years when it comes to an employees’ digital competences. Experts even believe that by the end of 2020 there will be up to 825,000 job vacancies in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Europe alone. Such statistics only underline the importance of programming for a country’s economy, since coding is a vital component in the operations of the majority of the businesses that have undergone a digital transformation. In addition, as a machine language, coding is seen as a useful tool for stimulating creativity, math skills, and problem-solving skills in people who engage with it. This article seeks to provide a deeper insight into the world of coding. In what follows, we introduce the major coding languages as well as the criteria used to determine whether a programming language is useful or not, and make some predictions about which languages are likely to stay atop while others are slowly fading away.
Everything you need to know about programming languages
There are over 200 programming languages used today. People who are just beginning their journey in coding might wonder why there are so many of them. In a sense, all of these languages were initially created for the same purpose: to allow people to communicate with computers. A closer look, however, reveals that these machine languages vary a lot, mostly depending on what they will be used for.
To get a better understanding of the nature and purposes of coding languages, we have gathered a list of the ten most commonly used programming tools from the beginning of the 21st century up until nowadays. Here they are:
This is probably the most popular programming language, with more than nine million developers currently using it, according to GitHub. Its functionality, portability, and stability seem to be some of the reasons why Java has continued to be used by many developers after 24 years of its creation. Other fundamental characteristics of the code are its object-oriented paradigm and simplicity, which allow programs built in Java to be easily written and run anywhere at any time. Some of the critical areas in which the language is used are the development of Android apps and web applications such as Gmail, software tools like Eclipse or Fisheye, large-scale industry servers, the development of the Internet of Things and other. Java was also awarded language of the year twice, in 2005 and 2015.
C is the oldest general-purpose computer programming language among the others mentioned in this list. Its first appearance was in 1972, which means that developers have been using this language for nearly 50 years. Most of the people who decide to learn how to program often start with C as it is considered the base language that will undoubtedly help when studying other coding languages. Sometimes referred to as “God’s programming language”, C is widely used in various applications. It is a simple language that can be executed fast. This is why developers often use it in embedded systems, system and desktop applications, operating system development, spread sheets and more.
C++ is often described as an updated version of C, as it comprises some of its features. However, this programming language is considered to be a bit more sophisticated insofar as it enables higher-level programming. Although some say that it is not an easy language to learn, most developers that have just begun their journey in programming have to learn how to use it if they want to establish some good foundations for their future careers. With better productivity and efficiency, C++ is mostly used for the development of modern games, many major applications such as Photoshop, InDesign, Facebook or Twitter, different software for account management, payment transactions and even for designing airplane parts.
PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor/Personal Home Page (PHP)
The first version of PHP was launched in 1995, designed by Rasmus Lerdorf, a programmer who wanted to create a simplified templating system, as opposed to those of C or Perl, with limited and consistent syntax. Although it was not meant to be a programming language, it grew organically as such with more and more people starting to use it. Over the years, PHP has become one of the most extensively used scripting languages in server-side scripting, as it is platform-independent and easy to learn. Apart from its traditional server-side scripting purpose, PHP is also used in command line scripting, managing dynamic content, session tracking and even desktop application writing.
Python is another popular language used by millions of developers around the globe. The language was first released in 1991 with the purpose to help programmers write clear, logical code for projects of different sizes. Python is known for its emphasis on code readability with a simple syntax notable for its use of significant whitespace. Developers usually fall in love with this particular programming language because of its increased productivity and its ability to reduce the overall costs of program maintenance. Python can be used for web development, software applications, some games, as well as in scientific and mathematical computing or even AI projects.
Ruby is often described by developers as a beautiful, artful language because it is clean and simple and at the same time powerful. Its creator Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto has described his creation in a Ruby Talk as a language that is “simple in appearance, but very complex inside, just like our human body”. A blend of several other programming languages, Ruby stands out with its balance between functional and imperative programming. Ruby can be used in web applications and servers, system utilities, database work, backups and more.
Visual Basic. Net (VB. Net)
VB.Net is an updated version launched in 2002 of its predecessor Visual Basic (VB) that was introduced by Microsoft in 1991. This programming language relies on the .NET framework, which means that it has full access to the .NET libraries, making it a very productive tool for the creation of wide range of web and mobile applications. In addition, programs that have been designed with VB.Net run with reliability and scalability. Some of the many things that can be done with the Visual Basic.Net programming language are Windows and web services, web control libraries, and standard Windows applications.
What criteria should you use when choosing a code?
Having in mind that all languages are more or less created for the same purpose, it could be hard for developers or anyone interested in coding to distinguish the ones that could be really useful from those that are not. Of course, there are no general criteria, since every programmer has different preferences and might work better with some coding languages as opposed to other developers. The criteria outlined below are subjective and are not necessarily meant to be strictly followed. In fact we strongly advise our readers who are interested in coding to try several different languages on their own before deciding which ones could suit best their programming style.
When choosing a programming language based on its technical characteristics, simplicity is probably the first thing that developers look for. Working with a programming language comprised of a simple and consistent syntax can be a real joy for developers. Using such language can also save more time as opposed to a more sophisticated one that could be prone to problems whose solving might take longer than usual. The reliability of a programming language can also determine whether it is good or bad. For example, a particular language used in the creation of a system that runs without failure over a specific period of operation would undoubtedly be preferred by the majority of the developers out there. Another technical characteristic that one might consider when choosing a programming language is its portability. Some languages that are platform-independent can be used in various different environments.
A programming language can be also chosen based on the nature of the task it will be used for. Nowadays, most developers do not even have to choose a particular language themselves as it has already been chosen by the company they are working in. The industry demands and marketing trends can also influence the choice of a coding language as some are just more convenient to be used in a particular field than others.
With that being said, one can state that choosing a programming language nowadays is not so much based on the technical characteristics of the language itself, but rather on other external factors such as ecosystems, the demand on the market, the total number of vacancies, or the format of the work.
The examples provided in the previous sections, along with some of the fields they can be used in, are only a small segment of the bigger picture. With the emergence of new coding languages in recent years, it is possible that there are other, new ones that might work just as well as the most commonly used ones. Below, we will try to predict which languages are more likely to remain on the market than others.
Tops and flops of programming languages for the next ten years
Looking back in history, it seems like some programming languages like Java or C++ have always been among the leaders from all the variety of languages. Some believe that most of the “known” languages will never vanish for the mere reason that some of them have been used by people for nearly five decades. Yet, for the past few years more and more new variations of coding have emerged, with the overall total number of programming languages reaching over 700. Do we really need that many? The answer is: no, which is also the reason why most the rather obscure programming languages have no hope of resurgence and are likely to disappear in the next ten years.
The top languages that have proven to be useful over the years and have also happened to be the pioneers in programming leaving a legacy behind will most certainly continue to be used in the following years. One of the main reasons that could define their future usage is their technical characteristics that have already proven to be efficient as they were tested in time. However, based on upcoming market trends and industry demands, these same programming languages will also be preferred by large organizations and individual developers themselves. Here are the ones that we believe will probably be still around in the near future:
Of course, there are those coding languages that have fallen out of favor because there are more efficient options or because they have become esoteric. Community engagement, language growth based on TIOBE index statistics, and again the job market are also key factors to consider when it comes to predicting the unfortunate future of some programming languages. Below we have gathered a list of some of the languages that we believe will decline in popularity or be totally extinct in the third decade of the 21st century:
This language has been around for quite some time. It was first introduced to the world in 1987, then underwent some changes, and in 2000 a redesign of the language was introduced that is nowadays known as Raku. Although the language has been previously used by a huge number of programmers, its memory requirements and a greater expense of CPU are some of the reasons why this language is likely to lose its cultural relevance but not vanish completely since there is still a large number of legacy websites that are using this code. What was once the web’s most promising language has now been replaced by its rival Python.
Apple’s main programming language is also believed to fade away in the upcoming years, especially since the company announced its replacement by Swift almost six years ago. Despite the fact that the language has been around for more than 35 years now and the legacy it has left, its use and popularity have definitely decreased due to the increasing number of developers using Swift because of its feature-rich qualities and the fact that it is much easier to be used in building iOS, macOS and other apps.
Cobol is a really old language, used for over 60 years now, primarily in the field of business. A huge part of the world’s financial transactions are operated through systems that were designed in COBOL, which might make it harder for the language to completely disappear, yet developers are unlikely to use it because of its strong typing rules and the overall amount of time required to compile a program written in COBOL.
This is another programming language that is likely to be replaced by Python entirely and vanish in future. R is known for its use in data analytics and science projects, yet with the rise of Python many companies have been reported to rapidly shift from the one language to the other. Although R is still used by academics and scientists, recent statistics provided by TIOBE’s index demonstrate a decline in the usage of this programming language since its peak in 2018.