Best programming languages for beginners to learn

A question that confuses many novice developers is "What programming language should they learn first as a beginner?". In this post, I'll list the top 5 programming languages for beginners to learn first.

Best programming languages for beginners to learn

A question that confuses many novice developers is “What programming language should they learn first as a beginner?”. In this post, I’ll list the top 5 programming languages for beginners to learn first.

I’ve tried to summarize the benefits, drawbacks, and possibilities of these languages, keeping the article as short as possible.

1. JavaScript

Let us start with the most widely used programming language in the world. First released in 1995, JavaScript is a language that is widely used in web application development. The fact is that we cannot even create a modern website without writing at least a single line of JavaScript code.

JavaScript server-side language

JavaScript was initially developed as a language to run in web browsers. But later with the release of frameworks like Node.js, it is now possible to run JavaScript code in any web server. This means that you can write the client-side, and server-side logic of your web application entirely with JavaScript.

The ability to scale is the main advantage of NodeJS. As Node is asynchronous by default, it can handle more requests than other languages like PHP. But the downside is that NodeJS cannot be used to perform CPU intensive tasks like video encoding.

Chances are you might have already heard about JavaScript frameworks like Angular, React JS and Vue JS. These JavaScript frameworks redefined the way of writing client-side applications. You can quickly build client-side applications and design beautiful user interfaces with these frameworks.

Even Facebook, Google and Microsoft heavily use these frameworks. It is good to learn any or all of these frameworks if you want to become a good web developer. Among the three, Vue is the newest and easiest framework to learn. But the downside is, you will have a hard time finding a job as a Vue developer in most of the countries.

JavaScript for Desktop app development

Have you ever thought of building desktop applications with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript? With ElectronJS, a JS framework to build desktop applications, you can create applications for Windows, Mac, and Linux with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can even use Angular or react with Electron. But remember that it cannot replace the native tools and Frameworks of each platform.

Do you know that popular desktop applications like Visual Studio Code, Skype, Slack, and WordPress desktop are built using Electron?

JavaScript for mobile app development

JavaScript can also be used to develop applications for Android and iOS. Some popular frameworks to create smartphone applications using JavaScript are React native Apache Cordova and Ionic. These frameworks give you the freedom to design the user interface using HTML CSS and JavaScript.

Mobile applications of Instagram, Myntra, Facebook Ads Manager and Discord are built using React Native.

Pros of JavaScript

  • JavaScript is the most popular programming in the world.
  • There are a lot of updates and improvements coming to JavaScript.
  • JavaScript can be used to create applications for any platform.
  • Simple than other languages like Java and C#.
  • A large community of developers.

Cons of JavaScript

  • Poor design.
  • JavaScript is a single-threaded language.

2. Python

Python is the second most popular language in the world after JavaScript. It is widely used in data mining and artificial intelligence. Python is often praised known for its simplicity and clean syntax.

Python was created by Guido van Rossum in 1991, 4 years before the release of Java. Python is a general-purpose, interpreted, and dynamically typed programming language. The downside of Python is, it is slower than other languages and difficult to optimize.

Python for web development

The most widely used Python frameworks for web development are Django and Flask. One of the biggest implementations of the Django web framework is Instagram. Other popular websites created using Python are Pinterest, Quora, Spotify, and Netflix.

Python for Desktop and Mobile application development

Although we can develop desktop and mobile applications using Python, it is not the best choice. There are libraries like Tkinter, Kivy, and PyQT; they are not feature-rich and lags behind other desktop and mobile app development frameworks.

Pros of Python

  • Easy to learn.
  • Clean syntax.
  • Large developer community.
  • Availability of numerous libraries.

Cons of Python

  • Slower than other languages like C, C++, Java, and C#.
  • Poor backward compatibility.
  • Not suitable for Mobile and Desktop application development.
  • Not preferred for enterprise applications.
  • It will be difficult for Python developers to switch to other languages.

3. Java

Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. After its release in 1995 by Sun Microsystems, Java secured its position as the most popular programming for decades and 90% of all Fortune 500 companies use Java.

Java can be used to develop any type of application including web, mobile, and smartphone applications. Most of the android applications that we use today are developed using Java.

Two popular web development frameworks in Java are Spring and Hibernate.

Pros of Java

  • The language has been existing for more than two decades and a lot of companies use Java.
  • Platform independent.
  • A large developer community.
  • Familiar C-like syntax.
  • Pure Object-Oriented language.

Cons of Java

  • Memory consuming than C and C++.
  • GUI applications developed using Java looks different from native apps.
  • Java programs will have more LOC than other languages.
  • If not packed as a native application, Java should be installed to run Java applications.

4. PHP

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a dynamic and interpreted scripting language widely used for web development. It is the first choice of many novice web developers. PHP was created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995 to maintain his personal homepage.

First, let me tell you about the popularity of PHP. About 80% of websites in the world are created using PHP. The world’s most popular CMS, WordPress which powers 36 percent of websites in the world is created using PHP. Also, popular websites like Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Flickr, and Tumblr are created using PHP.

The main disadvantage of PHP is suitable only for web development.

Pros of PHP

  • Easy to learn.
  • Most suitable language for web development.
  • All web hosts support PHP.

Cons of PHP

  • Only suitable for web development. (There are some libraries for desktop app development).
  • Bugs in earlier versions of PHP made many websites vulnerable to attacks.

5. .NET Framework

It is a framework developed by Microsoft and was initially released in 2002. Unlike other languages mentioned in this post, .NET is not a programming language. It is a framework.

One of the main advantages of .NET is that it gives developers the freedom to develop applications using 60+ programming languages. The most popular programming language used in the .NET framework in C#.

C# (C Sharp) is a language similar to Java. Like Java, C# is also a compiled and statically typed programming language. This helps you to identify and eliminate most of the errors before compiling.

The .NET framework can now be used to develop applications for Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, and iOS.

.NET Core is noticeably faster than many other languages and frameworks because of its extensive use of async methods.

.NET Framework WAS Platform-specific

Before the release of .NET Core in 2016, applications developed using the .NET framework was platform-specific. Those applications were targeted to run only on Windows.

.NET Framework is NOW Platform-independent

.NET 5 or .NET Core is platform-independent. This means that you can now create applications for any platform using .NET. .NET Core recently saw a surge in adoption by developers.

Benefits of .NET Core

  • Platform independent.
  • Developers can use their preferred language.
  • Lesser Code.
  • Improved performance

Drawbacks of .NET Core

  • Relatively newer.

Wrapping Up

We should never learn a programming language based on its popularity or because it is beginner-friendly. Instead, pick a language this suits best for your purpose and area of interest.


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