Programming is an ever-changing field and great languages come and go; burning bright and then fading into obscurity.
Nothing illustrates this more than Pascal; a powerhouse of the mid 1970s-1980s designed for teaching the concepts of structured language, that declined due to adoption of C and C++. While, there’s still a subset of diehard Pascal programmers around, the language’s days of glory are long past.
The beauty of programming language is that their syntax is simple, so you’ll find that the more you know the easier it will be to pick up a new one. But how do you know which languages will be in demand in the future? Here’s an overview of the coding languages that’ll be in demand over the coming years and you might be surprised, some old gems have risen in the popularity rankings! This list was updated in December 2017.
Go is an open-source language that was created by Google in 2007, and designed to build simple and reliable applications fast, making it perfect for minimal web applications, APIs and web servers. One major advantage of Go is the many features it has to handle concurrently, like goroutines, which are functions capable of running concurrently with other functions, and channels, which allow different goroutines to communicate with each other to determine how best to complete a task. This means applications built with Go can scale with ease.
Go was also built to be easy to understand, and this simplicity is likely why it is one of the fastest-growing programming languages of the past few years. After all, what developer wouldn’t want to harness the code powering many of Google’s own applications?
R has been around since 1995, but has recently spiked in popularity, coming in at number 6 in IEEE Spectrum’s top 10 programming languages of 2017. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to academics and corporations racing to cash in on big data – for example, R has been used by Facebook, Google and pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
Designed by statisticians and scientists, R is an open-source language that was built for complex statistical analytics, while being accessible to those without programming skills. “R is really important to the point that it’s hard to overvalue it,” said Daryl Pregibon, a research scientist at Google. “It allows statisticians to do very intricate and complicated analyses without knowing the blood and guts of computing systems.”
Described by some as a “supercharged version of Microsoft Excel”, it contains a number of built-in mechanisms for organising and performing calculations on data, and creating graphical representations of data sets. It’s also highly malleable, as the code can be adapted to specific tasks.
While the language is fairly simple, it can be somewhat difficult for those with knowledge of other languages to pick it up, as the syntax is “unconventional”. Its power, however, makes the effort well worthwhile.
Far from being just a programming language, Arduino is an open-source electronics platform, which includes a programmable circuit board (or Arduino board), and an integrated development environment (IDE) that is used to write code for the board.
Arising from just these simple components is a whole realm of possibilities. It has been used to build robots and 3D printers, to create musical instruments, and even to launch satellites. It is both accessible enough to be used by beginners, such as students and hobbyists, yet flexible enough for advanced users, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux and MacOSX. Its wide-reaching IoT applications will ensure Arduino continues to grow in popularity.
The language itself is basically a simplified version of C++, making it easy to pick up, particularly for those with programming experience. If you’re looking to create interactive objects, Arduino is certainly a great skill to have in your arsenal.
One of the most widely adopted programming languages, Java is used to develop all native Android apps and establishing them on tablets and smartphones. It’s currently employed by nearly 9 million developers and runs on 7 billion devices worldwide. Long-term compatibility ensures the longevity of this powerhouse.
C, C++ and C#
We’ve grouped these three languages together, but don’t interpret this as a sign you can pick one over the other as they all have very different use cases.
C++ builds upon the functionality of C and is considered a mid level language as it contains high and low level features. It’s one of the strongest languages, utilized across system/application software, drivers, client-server applications and embedded firmware. Large portions of Mac OS/X, all major Adobe applications and Google all employ C++ language. That said, it’s mostly used for high performance software like game engines.
C#, pronounced C Sharp, is syntactically nearly identical to Java. Microsoft designed it in the early 00’s as an evolution of C and C++. Its language is simple, modern and object orientated. It’s the prime language for Microsoft applications and is also applicable to a wide range of enterprise applications that run on the .NET. It’s seen a major rise in popularity thanks to the Unity Engine using it as a scripting language.
Like its namesake, Monty Python, this language is extremely easy (and fun) to work with. It closely resembles English, so it’s very readable. For this reason Python has replaced Java as a learning language, and has become the most commonly taught programming language within the U.S.
Best of all, Python is adaptable; it can be used in the building of web apps and for data analysis. Instagram, Pinterest, NASA and Reddit all use Python within their websites.
As the language is so easily understood and accessible, you can expect an increasing amount of large organisations to incorporate it within their frameworks.
While a polarising language, (seriously Google Search - PHP SUCKS), we maintain that PHP is a valuable language for programmers. It’s a commonly used language for the programming of dynamic data-heavy websites, and app development. It’s so common in fact, that it’s estimated that PHP powers one-third of the web. More than 200 million websites include it; Facebook and Wordpress are just a couple of big names that jump to mind.
Best of all it’s an open source language, so there’s a stack of free pre-built modules that you can customise to your liking.
Like Python, Ruby is considered to be a user-friendly language that is very easy to pick up. It’s a dynamic-object oriented scripting language used to build websites and mobile apps. Rails, the add on framework for Ruby, allows rapid development, requires less code making it even simpler to build web apps.
Swift was invented by Apple in 2014. While a relatively young language, it has already gained enough traction to ensure a long future. Leading developers such as Yahoo and LinkedIn were very quick to embrace the new language.
Built for iOS and OS X developers, it’s tailored towards app creation. It can be seamlessly incorporated into existing Objective-C code too, so Swift can easily enhance existing apps.
If you’re already familiar with C++ you should find it easy to pick up Swift.