There is no shortage of programming languages on the market today, and each one offers unique benefits and drawbacks. Some languages, such as Python and Java, have a large community and extensive documentation, making them ideal choices for first-time programmers. Others, such as C and C++, are popular choices among experienced developers because of their versatility and support for low-level machine code.
Ultimately, the best programming language is one that fits your specific needs and interests. Whether you are a new developer looking to learn the basics or an experienced programmer searching for the right tool for a particular project, there is sure to be a language out there that is perfect for you.
So choose wisely! As they say in the tech world: code high, code often, code well.
So, you want to learn how to program. Honestly, great choice — pursuing software or website development is a challenging but highly rewarding career path.
Now, for your next big decision:
What programming language should you choose to start with? This can seem daunting, as your first programming language can be your first introduction to the world of programming.
Picking a difficult job can cause you to lose interest and discouragement. If you choose one that is too easy, you might miss the fundamental concepts necessary to secure a job as a developer. There are hundreds of programming languages available today. Where do you begin?
You don’t need to know every language to get into this field. There is a consensus among developers that certain programming languages are the best for beginners.
We have 12 great beginner options to get you started in coding. These are based on your career goals and interests.
Best Programming Languages to Learn as a Beginner
- HTML and CSS
Python is a versatile scripting language that is widely used in many different contexts, from web development to data science. Python is relatively easy to learn, making it a good choice for beginners. Java is another popular language that is frequently used for developing Android apps. Java is a bit more challenging to learn than Python, but it can be useful for those who want to develop mobile apps.
Python is one of the most popular programming languages among new programmers. It has many qualities that make it ideal for beginners, including its simplicity and range of powerful libraries.
Whether you’re interested in software development, data analysis, machine learning, or anything else, Python gives you everything you need to get started.
With its simple syntax and portable nature, Python allows programmers to quickly build complex projects that work well on a wide variety of platforms. And with its huge community of developers and extensive documentation, Python makes it easy to find support and solutions when you need them.
So if you’re just getting started with coding, there’s no better choice than Python!
Java is another widely used general-purpose programming language that’s excellent for beginners. Not only is it a great introduction to the art and science of programming — it’s also one of the most sought-after languages at companies of all sizes (including HubSpot!), making it a solid foundation for a career.
The Java Virtual Machine lets Java run on virtually any hardware and operating system, making it among the most widely used programming languages in the world. It’s most commonly on the back ends of software applications, from large-scale enterprise applications to mobile apps. Notably, the Android OS is based on Java.
While Java does have a bit steeper of a learning curve than Python, it’s definitely manageable and one of the best options for first-time programmers.
4. HTML and CSS
HTML is the language that defines the content and structure of web pages. When you view a web page, you’re looking at your browser’s interpretation of an HTML file. CSS is an accompanying language that defines the style of the page — it’s what makes websites look nice, basically.
Some programming languages, like Python, are ideal for new programmers because their syntax is simple and human-readable. Essentially, you can write programs that do a lot of things with less code. On the other hand, some other languages are more challenging because their syntax is closer to machine code (a very low-level, entirely numerical language that computers process). If you hadn’t already guessed, C is one of these languages.
So, why would anyone start with a lower-level language? Ultimately, starting with C can be more rewarding in the long run because it helps you build a better foundation of knowledge. So much of learning how to program involves problem-solving, rather than just learning syntax. For anyone who wants to dive into the technical side of things and really understand how their programs work, C is your best bet.
For this reason, C is widely taught in introductory college computer science courses. However, it also involves more complex syntax than some other programming languages — you need to write more code to get things done. But, if you want to be challenged, learning C will help you ultimately become a more well-rounded programmer.
A very influential language, C also forms the foundation for most modern programming syntax, so learning will give you key skills you can then apply to other languages. In terms of applications, C is most commonly used for desktop applications, operating systems, and databases.
A successor of C, C++ is also popular among programmers. The name comes from the “++” operator in C, which adds a value of one to an integer. (Yes, even developers like to have fun sometimes.)
C++ builds on C by including classes and objects, which allow you to represent real-life objects in the code. This added sophistication opens many more possibilities to the language and makes it much better equipped for developing sophisticated applications, like system or application software, drivers, client-server applications, embedded firmware, and video games.
And, fun side note, C++ was also my first programming language. 🎉 🎉
Another popular offshoot of C, C# (pronounced “C sharp”) was developed by Microsoft to run on its .NET platform for Windows applications. C# is still very common in desktop applications, it’s also known it for being the language of the Unity game engine. This means that those interested in video game development will likely need to learn C# at some point.
Once you’ve learned the basics of C, consider taking on C# next, as it will be easier to pick up once you’re familiar with the syntax of the C family of programming languages.
For you aspiring web developers, this is another popular choice for beginners. Ruby is a server-side scripting language that’s one of the easier ones to read and pick up as a first language.
A big reason for Ruby’s popularity is the open-source web application framework Ruby on Rails, which has been widely adopted by startups and large tech companies like Square, Shopify, Airbnb, and Hulu, making it a valuable skill career-wise.
A main philosophy of Ruby on Rails is convention over configuration. In other words, it trades flexibility for convenience, and a lot of programming decisions are already made for you. While learning Ruby on Rails will be a heavier lift than the basics of Ruby, you’ll eventually be able to help build impressive web applications as a result.
Still, we recommend learning the basics of the Ruby programming language first, before diving into the Rails framework that goes on top of it.
Here’s one more popular server-side scripting language that’s valuable to know if you’re interested in web development. PHP is an open-source language that’s used to build dynamic web pages on-the-fly, making for a more personalized browsing experience. Highly flexible, beginner-friendly, and with tons of frameworks, PHP tops the list for most-used languages by beginners and professionals alike.
PHP is also the core language for the WordPress content management system and is a staple in the WordPress developer’s toolkit. Since WordPress is free and open-source, peeking at its core files is a good way to get some exposure to how PHP powers websites.
Are you interested in working with databases, or any kind of job that involves storing, fetching, and analyzing data? In that case, it’s definitely worth your time to pick up SQL at some point.
SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language (and is often pronounced “sequel”) is the standard programming language for managing relational databases. A relational database is one in which data points are related to each other, organized in tables of columns and rows.
SQL allows you to add data to, extract data from, and change data inside relational databases, making it most useful for data analysts and scientists, as well as product experts, business analysts, and marketers who wish to factor business data into their decision-making.
You can’t exactly “build” things with SQL in the same sense as other languages here — it has a much more specific purpose. But, if you aspire to work with data in any capacity, SQL is a must-know.
Swift is a newer programming language created by Apple to develop iOS and macOS applications. If you think building apps is something you’d want to do, learn Swift — you’ll need to know it eventually to make a career in iOS and macOS development.
Like other languages we’ve discussed here, Swift has relatively straightforward, human-readable syntax and is a pretty forgiving language when it comes to mistakes. It’s also a very scalable language that makes it easy to translate your projects from small experiments to full-blown app pursuits.
To close out our list, we have Go (also known as Golang), a general-purpose. Go was created by Google to support software development projects. It’s similar to C, but with easier syntax and some added functionality to support more efficient building and more scalable projects. Some people see Go as combining the more user-friendly aspects of several programming languages into one.
Go has gained traction among developers of cloud-based applications, AI and machine learning, web servers, data tools, and command-line tools.
For more general advice on how to pick which language to learn first, check out this great video from Codecademy.
Learn to code.
Whichever language you choose, the most important thing isn’t the exact syntax of the language you’re writing (though, yes, that is important). Rather, it’s the fundamental concepts of computer science, the problem-solving skills you pick up along the way, and, eventually, the ability to think computationally as second-nature.
That might all seem far off to you right now. But, with diligent practice and dedication to the languages you’re learning, a new career can be closer than you think.
This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. Source link