Updated on May 5, 2014


Having spent more than 5 years in software development and the computer programming arena, one of the most common questions I am asked is:

What are some of the best programming languages to learn?

This is a question that is asked by beginners, as well as experts. As with many important questions, the answer is not simple. There are many factors that should be taken into account while deciding a programming language to learn.

Technology evolves in matter of weeks and by the time you become expert in a particular software technology, it can already be considered obsolete. Another extremely important thing to note is that programming languages vary greatly in terms of functionality and complexity. The answer to what programming language you should learn majorly depends upon the type of task you want to perform. For instance, if you are developing some static web-based application, you might need to learn simple HTML. Conversely, if you want to develop a more dynamic application with advanced capabilities, you might need to learn ASP.NET, PHP, Ruby on Rails, or Javascript and and accompanying framework. Desktop and mobile applications have different requirements as well.

In addition to that, another interesting aspect of programming that I noticed is that not only programmers and software engineers are interested in learning new programming languages, but people from totally different walks of life are also into it. Recently, I came across a PhD researcher with psychology as a research area. He was instructed by his supervisor to learn some advanced programming language because he would be required to display his research result in form of a software application. He was also asking the same question about what from where he should start. That shows that programming is not limited to programmers, with rigorous practice and attention, anyone, yes anyone, can program.

Now back to the top 10. I have decided to compile a list of programming languages that can be helpful in deciding which to pursue, and have also added a number of typical “developer types” or “tracks” that you could become or experiment with. You should have a look at these languages and decide which is best suited for your requirements. So, let’s get started.


1. C Language

I vividly remember that the first programming language course that I had in my university was of C language. Our instructor assigned us a task to add two numbers using C. And when we completed the task, we felt like the best programmers on earth. C is definitely a very good programming language to learn, specifically for the beginners who are intending for a programming career in the long run.

A bit of history: C language was developed by Dennis Ritchie in 1972, at Bell labs. The legacy of C language stems from the fact that it is ancestor to many of the advanced programming languages such as C++, Java, C#, JavaScript, and Pearl. It is probably due to this reason that C is the first programming course offered in universities as it paves way for learning other languages. C language is mostly used for developing low level applications as it is considered nearest to the hardware amongst all languages, baring assembly language. If you’re a beginner, here is a great starter course to C.

2. C++ Language

Though C language was performing extremely well, it lacked object orientation. In order to address this issue, C++ language was developed in 1983 which is often considered object oriented version of C language. C++ is one of the most widely used languages of the world with many amazing applications developed through it. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Winamp, and the complete suite of Adobe Software were developed using C++. Apart from that, several advanced games and operating systems – like windows – have been developed in C++ due to its quick processing and compilation mechanism. Also, C++ developers are in extremely high demand in the job market and the number of vacancies is growing. You can visit Udemy C++ to learn how to program in this rapidly growing language.


3. Java

Java was developed by James Gosling, in 1990 at Sun Microsystems. Java further adds to the capabilities of C++ language. It is often said that Java owes a lot to C and C++ in terms of features and capabilities. The special thing about Java is that this is the first purely object oriented programming language. Java was developed on the principle of WORA i.e. “Write Once Run Anywhere”. This feature adds to the portability of Java. You just need to compile Java Source code once and then on any machine where JVM (Java Virtual Machine is installed), you can run that code irrespective of the underlying operating system and hardware.

Java language is used to develop enterprise level application and video games; it can be employed to develop web based applications when used with JSP (Java Server Pages). Java has huge job market with attractive incentives. This is a must learn language for every programmer. The ultimate guide to Java for beginners can help you master this language.

4. C#

C# belongs to the Microsoft’s family of programming language and was developed in 2000 to be the part of the first ever release of Microsoft’s prestigious .NET framework. C# is very similar to Java in terms of capabilities. It has been said that C# combines the robustness of C++ with the advanced features of Java. Therefore, if you are good at Java, it is extremely easy to switch to C# and vice-versa.

C# language is used to develop almost all types of software applications that come with Visual Studio IDE. If you are developing a dynamic web based application in ASP.NET, you will be required to code in C# or VB to write backend handling mechanism. If you are developing a Windows form application or a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) Application, you will be required to code in C#. Similarly, if you are developing a windows phone application, again you will be required to code in C#.

Keeping in view, the importance of the usage of C# in Microsoft’s application, you should definitely consider it if you are looking to develop applications for Windows-based platforms. The job market for C# programmers is also good and you can find a lucrative job being a C# programmer. Explore the fundamentals of C# in this course.

5. Objective C

Objective-C was initially developed at Apple by Brad Cox and Tom Love, in 1983. The purpose of developing Objective-C programming language was to address the deficiencies in C language. The major shortcoming in C language was object orientation which provoked many developers to devise languages that incorporate object orientation paradigm. As a result C++ and Object-C were developed. However, the latter have gained immense popularity owing to its use in developing applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Sound knowledge of Objective-C would be helpful in landing you a job in companies that develop Apple based software applications. In addition to that, freelance industry also has huge demand for Objective-C coders across the globe. Just getting started? Learn coding alongside a professional programmer in this course for beginners.


6. PHP

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is one of the most widely used languages used to develop dynamic websites. PHP was developed in 1995 and is a server-side scripting language which means that PHP code is processed on the server and end result is sent to the user of the website in the form of plain HTML.

PHP is an open-source language which means that there are thousands of already built modules that can be modified to achieve the desired functionality. Also, PHP is easy to learn; you simply have to embed the code inside HTML. And if there was anything left, there are hundreds of PHP platforms available such as Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal that allow you to develop websites even more conveniently. PHP is one language that every programmer should learn if he or she plans to pursue a web developer’s career. PHP is also an integral part of the famous LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL and PHP) platform that Facebook, Yahoo, and other famous websites use. PHP has a huge job market, though not much highly paid when compared to ASP.NET developers; PHP developers easily find decent jobs. Some easy and comprehensive tutorials are available at Udemy PHP.

7. JavaScript

Server side languages are ideal for developing complex web applications but performing every task on server puts lots of load on a server. For this reason, developers often delegate some part of the functionality to client side and for this purpose JavaScript is used. JavaScript is a client side programming language that runs inside a client browser and process commands on client computer rather than server which results in decreased load on server and increased application’s execution speed. JavaScript has been designed by Netscape and there is hardly any website that doesn’t make use of JavaScript. Though, JavaScript alone will not help you land a job but if you are looking to pursue a career in web development, JavaScript is a must learn language along with some advanced server side scripting language. A good resource to learn Java is available at Udemy.com. Join over a thousand students who have taken this course on comprehensive JavaScript programming.


8. Python

Python is another high-level programming language and is often considered on the easiest language to learn, owing to its simplicity, readability and straight forward syntax. Python was developed by Guido Van Rossum in 1991. Python wasn’t used that widely in the past; however, the language has seen great surge in popularity in the recent years owing to Google’s investment in the language in the past 10 years or so. Currently, some highly famous and robust sites are operating in python including pinterest.com, instagram.com, and rdio.com. Like, PHP, Python also has associated web frameworks which make it more convenient to develop web based applications in python. Django is one such platform which powers the sites aforementioned. There are two renowned courses on Python for beginners that I’d like to recommend: this course on Python programming and this Ultimate Python Tutorial.

9. SQL

SQL is not a development language; it is actually a database query language. SQL stands for Structured Query Language. SQL provides a standardized way of interacting with the underlying database of an application. SQL is extremely simple to learn and is probably closest to the English language in terms of syntax. Almost every application has a backend database and in order to interact with that you will need to have sound knowledge of SQL. Like JavaScript, SQL alone is not that beneficial in terms of job placement; however, good command of SQL can help you stand out of crowd. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you learn it. You can try out this beginner’s SQL crash course to start!

10. Ruby

Similar to Python, Ruby is also a simple and readable programming language mainly focused on developing web-based applications. Designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto in 1995, Ruby powers Ruby on Rails, a web development framework on which numerous renowned websites including Github, Scribd, Yammer, Shopify, and Groupon have been developed. Ruby is regarded as combination of some of the most famous features of Lisp, Pearl and Eiffel. Ruby also has got a good job market and ruby developers are being paid decently at the moment. Learn Ruby quickly and painlessly with this course!

And now…the rankings! For your convenience, I have compiled some facts about these languages based on their job scope and general rank along with current number of vacancies available at famous job sites. These stats will help you choose what languages to learn.

 Languages  TIOBE Rank  JobsTractor Rank  Vacancies at Indeed.com
C 1 13 8112
C++ 4 10 31199
Java 2 1 67753
C# 6 8 31935
Objective-C 3 3 4473
PHP 5 2 19953
Python 8 9 24916
Ruby 11 5 13621

Which Language to choose from the above?

bestprogramminglanguageI have explained ten of the most famous and usable programming languages that one should learn, but the question still lingers that which language is the best. Unfortunately, only you can answer this question. Apart from considering the stats that I mentioned in the last section, following are some of the factors that you should take into account while selecting a particular language for development.

Though these are some general guidelines, in the current market where job competition is at its peak, you must be proficient in at least one web-based language, one desktop based programming language, and at least one mobile platform, in order to distinguish yourself among contemporary programmers.

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