Website Development

Top 7 Web Development Languages To Use In 2020

August 18, 2020

Today, web development is seemingly a promising job. If you are a newcomer in this field, the nuisance here is where to start or which web development languages you should learn.

Inevitably, this depends much on what type of project you get involved in, whether you feel more pleasant to work with back-end or front-end technologies and whether you are good enough at mathematics and logic to learn programming skills.

So this article from Designveloper will well equip you with fundamental knowledge so that you can choose the right language for future jobs.

Web development languages: which one is suitable? (Source: Tavvy)

1. Overview of web development languages

When some people learn about web development, they are advised to start with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), but confuse these with programming languages.

HTML and CSS are in fact markup languages that are used to produce electronic documents (or pages), and to design sites respectively. Meanwhile, web programming languages are more complicated and can be divided into two categories: Back-end and front-end web development languages

August T2.2
HTML and CSS: markup languages (Source: Openweb Solutions Blog)

Normally, web development includes server-side (back-end) coding, client-side (front-end) coding and database technology.

Take LinkedIn – the world’s largest professional network as an example. To allow candidates from different regions to connect with others, search for a job or even learn new skills, LinkedIn was programmed by three distinct web programming languages: JavaScript, Java and Scala, then having used Voldemort as a distributed database to store an enormous number of profiles.

Accordingly, languages for web development can be defined as “complex logical instructions and processes” to help build sites that meet certain demands (Wikipedia).

So which are the most popular web development languages used in the world? And how different are they? The answers will be found in the following part.

2. Best web development languages in 2020

a. PHP 

PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a scripting language mainly used for the server-side of simple, dynamic sites and web apps, typically WordPress, Flickr or Facebook. PHP web development has supported many free and open-source extensions including .NET, Apache or Bzip2, as well as allowed access to various databases such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and others.

As some of PHP functions are similar to C language’s, PHP developers can add functionality to PHP by writing more plug-ins (also called add-ons or extensions) in C. Moreover, until now, PHP still retains basic Perl-like variables of the first version and the ability to be efficiently integrated into HTML. So PHP is easy for beginners to learn. 

flicker, web development languages
Flickr developed by PHP (Source: Flickr)

However, according to the 2020 survey of Hired, PHP is one of the “least loved coding languages” because it is not fun to program in. Indeed, in the competition with others, PHP proves a bit out-of-date although its versions were released for improvements.

Other downsides are PHP lacks standardized functions to handle errors and has weak typing. That means types of objects can suddenly change and this consequently produces unexpected outcomes. Therefore, it is more challenging to debug in case any coding flaws arise.

b. Python

Contrary to PHP, Python is the most favorite programming language (Hired, 2020). 44% of investigated software engineers used Python; this figure took the second position just after JavaScript. Python has high applications in different sub-fields of IT (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning or Video games) and especially in the scientific domain because the language facilitates the collection of empirical data and the integration with relevant databases. 

spotify
Spotify developed by Python and Django framework (Source: SoundGuys)

Python is a high-level, yet beginner-friendly language, due to its straightforward syntax and support of various libraries or tools. Additionally, it can work well as a scripting or object-oriented language and has strong typing, so the process of debugging is much faster.

In the field of webs, Python is one of the best back-end web development languages and such Python web development projects as Spotify or Instagram using the Django framework written in this language. 

Though processing faster than PHP, Python’s speed is still slower than C/C++ and Java. So the language does not suit Real-time apps, mobile apps or memory-intensive apps.

c. Java

Similar to Python, Java is also a preferred coding language with 38% of global users because of its well-maintained libraries and web frameworks, according to Hired. Java is an open-source and object-oriented language that has a good reputation for its stability.

Other pros are JVM (Java Virtual Machine) also allows it to run on various platforms and developing with Java can limit security risks and automatically manage memory storage. Hence, Java is widely used to develop Android mobile apps or enterprise-scale complex web projects. 

linkedin, web development languages
LinkedIn developed by Java, JavaScript and Scala (Source: Medium)

Because of those properties, Java is more difficult to learn and beginners probably struggle with long-winded and complicated codes if they decide to start their career with this language. Also, Java web development projects on a small scale are hardly undertaken.

d. C#

Compared to other web programming languages, C# is more special because Microsoft initially developed it for the .NET framework. So getting involved in C# web development means that developers will be restricted to that framework. So it only has libraries and types available to add functionality only to the .NET.

Having said that, the language still proves its popularity in programming many web apps or web API’s and developing video games on PC or Xbox. 

microsoft, web development languages
C# language and .NET framework (Source: Wake Up And Code!)

C#, or pronounced as C sharp, itself is multi-purpose and object-oriented. Similar to Java, it has strong typing and is independent on platforms because of CLR (Common Language Runtime – a virtual machine to run any .NET programs). Software engineers can find some similarities between the syntax of C# and C++ or Java, for instance, semicolons to end a statement or Curly brackets to group statements based on functions or classes. 

e. C++

Along with other web programming languages, C++ contributed to building numerous famous websites such as Google, Twitter or Amazon. As one of the oldest programming languages in the world, C++ undoubtedly has a large support community and owns a massive number of libraries to provide additional functions. Plus the ease to learn C++ due to its concise language of only 60 keywords, it is still popular now.

It was originally seen as an extension of C, so it inherited various variables of the language such as compatibility to hardware devices, but also got relatively messy syntax. 

web development languages, bing search
Bing – a search engine developed by C++ and C# (Source: Search Engine Land)

Modern C++ can be either object-oriented, functional or procedural, and also seen as a compiled language which translates source code to machine code via compilers as Microsoft Visual Studio on Windows or XCode on MacOS.

C++ is widely applied to build desktop apps, video games, e-commerce servers, while its web development application is ranked lower than that of JavaScript or Java.

f. Ruby

When hearing of Ruby on Rails web development, some often think Ruby as an abbreviation of Ruby on Rails. But the latter is effectively a common web framework written in Ruby, with typical projects on Airbnb, GitHub or CodeAcademy. 

airbnb, ruby, ruby on rails
Airbnb developed on Ruby on Rails framework (Source: BBC)

The language itself is high-level and purely object-oriented, which means “every value is an object” and no primitive data types are available in Ruby. It also features strong, dynamic typing and automatic garbage collection – a form to manage memory.

Ruby’s syntax is comparatively similar to that of Python and Perl and quite flexible. Although this makes Ruby easy for coders to read, it can easily produce unpredictable run-time flaws that are hard to debug.  

g. Javascript

In this list, JavaScript is the only language that serves both the server and client sides. Like HTML and CSS, JavaScript plays a core role in programming user-friendly and interactive front end of most websites, regardless of scales and complexity. So, in many surveys of Stack Overflow, GitHub and Hired, it always remains its leading position in top commonly used coding languages. 

web development languages, javascript
JavaScript – both front end and back end coding (Source: Codecamp)

In terms of server-side development,  JavaScript is a high-level programming language with multi-paradigm (e.g. object-oriented or functional) features, dynamic typing and numerous libraries or frameworks such as Node.js, React or Vue.js that are compatible to multiple operating systems. 

Top 24 web programming languages ranked by IEEE Spectrum

You might want to take a look at the list by IEEE Spectrum which ranked 24 programming languages by various metrics:

  • Python 100/100
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Go
  • Ruby
  • Dart
  • PHP
  • Scala
  • HTML
  • Kotlin
  • Rust
  • Processing
  • C#
  • Delphi
  • Perl
  • Elixir
  • F#
  • Lua
  • Apache Groovy
  • Haskell
  • Clojure
  • Ocaml
  • CoffeeScript
  • Racket 0/100

A conclusion about web development languages

Apart from some best web development languages mentioned in this article, the tech world is still witnessing the rise in others like Go, TypeScript or Scala. Not all languages can be easy to learn, let alone the abundance of frameworks you need to find out to build desired webs. So identifying your future career and establishing realistic goals can help you to choose the most suitable programming language. 

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