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Best Programming Language to learn this 2021: The Beginner's Guide

posted by Admin Goddy Ora on January 12th, 2021

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Have you finally decided to settle for computer programming as your career path? Are you new to the whole concept of coding and you're struggling to pick the right programming language to begin with? Which one of Java or JavaScript, Python or C would suffice?
Choosing the perfect language for every newbie programmer is one of the most difficult decision to make due to the numerous options available. There are hundreds of different programming languages with each of them having its personal strengths, weaknesses, complexities and best area of application. In truth, your choice of language will depend heavily on the segment of software development you are keenly interested in. In this article we will look at the various divisions of software development and recommend the best language (/s) suited for each category.

FOR WEB APPLICATIONS DEVELOPMENT :
This involves the creation of application programs that reside on remote servers and are delivered to the user’s device via the Internet. Examples of web applications include: Online forums like qoura.com, dogforum.com; or Ecommerce websites like amazon.com, Ebay.com; or your popular online blogging platforms like TechCrunch, Moz, Huffington Post etc. For better clarity, we are going to divide Web Applications Development into two parts, namely:
1. Front-end development and
2. Back-end development.
Front-end Web development :
Front-end Web development involves the building of the visual elements of a web application that users can see and interact with. In simple terms, a front-end developer is mainly concerned with the appearance of a website like its font size, forms, web page layouts etc. In order to become a well skilled front-end developer, we recommend you learn HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript combination. HTML and CSS are friendly and easy to learn while JavaScript is a popular programming language that is very efficient in every web related applications.
Back-end Web development :
Back-end Web development deals with the skeleton (called the “back-end”) of your web applications. It is more concerned with the functionality of the website. Take for instance a web application like LinkedIn or Facebook, the front-end deals with the different pages layouts and designs while the back-end application deals with things like the search query panel in which a user can search for a unique profile out of millions of registered users’ profiles. In order to become a full stack web developer, you need to be well grounded in both the Front-end and Back-end sects of Web development. Our recommended languages for Back-end Web development include: JavaScript, Python, PHP, and Go.
JavaScript: How will web developers cope without JavaScript? Well, that’s a question for another day. According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer’s Survey: JavaScript is the most popular programming language among developers for the eighth year running! While JavaScript is mostly used in conjunction with HTML and CSS for front-end development, it can still be used solely to build the back-end part of web applications using popular frameworks like Node.js which is compatible with every Operating System. Figuratively speaking, sticking with JavaScript (via Node.js) means you only need to master one programming language for both front-end and back-end web development.
Python: is a multi-purpose programming language that works brilliantly for Back-end web development via some of its popular web frameworks like Django and Flask. With Django (coded in Python) you can quickly develop a web application way quicker compared to other programming platforms. Django comes with a wide range of in-built packages such as admin panel, content administration, site Maps, SQL injections for data management and many more. Your popular media sharing platform – Instagram - and sites like Spotify and Mozilla were created using Django framework.
PHP: is a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor. Its popularity among Back-end developers is gradually fading as newer languages outsmart PHP in building better functionalities on web applications. Since it is a scripting language, PHP is somewhat similar to HTML making it is relative easier to learn.
Go (also known as Golang): is a newer language as it was only released in 2009. As a low-level language, Go performs almost the same functionality as C and C++ with a simpler and more readable syntax compare to the other two. The lightness of this language makes it perfect for building complex web applications through frameworks such as Gin, Martini or Revel.
VERDICT : For an absolute beginner with zero prior knowledge on programming, we are going to suggest JavaScript for both Front-end and Back-end Web development. It is always advisable to start your learning from the Front-end part of Web development then you gradually work your way to the more difficult sect (Back-end). As you master your craft, you can easily switch to other programming languages based on the kind of project you’re working on.

FOR DESKTOP APPLICATIONS DEVELOPMENT :
Desktop applications like the name implies are applications that run stand alone in a desktop or laptop computer. In contrast with Web based applications which requires web browsers to run them, Desktop applications are locally installed on computers using varying softwares based on the operating system of the computers. Examples of Desktop applications include: Microsoft Edge, Windows Apps, Sublime Text etc. Are you interested in building the next Adobe Photoshop? Then you can go through these four languages that make our recommendation list: C# (.NET), Objective-C, C++, and Python.

C# (pronounced C sharp): is an object-oriented programming language developed by Microsoft through their .NET frame work. This language only supports the development of applications for Windows OS. So if you are using a Windows computer and you’re interested in developing apps for only Windows users, this language is your right fit.
Objective-C: is the best language for developing Apple’s MacOS applications since it’s integrated into all of Apple’s frameworks with the most popular one among them being Cocoa. Are you a big fan of Apple products and you’re looking forward to building a desktop app for your MacBook? Then this is your best bet!
C++: is a low-level programming language and has been around since 1985. C++ is generally used for applications that work directly with hardware and in the gaming industry. In general, it is a very efficient and light language but it’s very difficult to learn. The fact that it’s a low-level language makes coding with it very tedious hence; it is not advisable for absolute beginners with zero computer science knowledge to start with this language. C++ can be used to create any application no matter the platform or operating system and it requires a very low memory space. Apps like Google Chrome, Adobe apps, and even a whole Microsoft Windows were created with this language!
Python: is a great choice for novice programmers since it’s easier to understand. Python is also an open-source language with hundreds of built-in libraries meaning: your desktop apps developed with Python can run on Linux, Unix, Windows, and MacOS computers. The major disadvantage with Python is its slowness and high memory usage. For instance, both C++ and C are faster than Python.
VERDICT : Our Final conclusion is to pick Python as a newbie programmer then as you start building projects, you can always switch to other languages that fit your app specializations e.g Objective-C (for MacOS apps development ) or C# (for Windows apps development). If you aren’t yet keen to start building tangible projects in the short term, you can take your time to learn C++ but if it proves too difficult for you then you can always fall back to Python.

FOR GAME DEVELOPMENT :
This involves the creation of games whether in 3D or 2D format, video or motion graphics, or for computer/mobile devices. To be a good game developer you have to possess a strong background in mathematics, sciences or engineering field due to their critical applications in high-level game development. A career in this segment, in most cases requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science/engineering or other equivalent fields. The best programming languages for game development are: low-level languages like C++ and C# (incorporated with Unity). High-level language like Python (using PyGame) or Java (in building mobile games for Android devices) can also be used for making quick prototypes of your game and building lighter video games but they both have their limitations in game development especially when it comes to the game graphics and memory management.
VERDICT : For beginner game developers, we recommend coding with C# via Unity for its relative ease of learning compared to C++.

FOR MOBILE APPLICATIONS DEVELOPMENT :
Mobile app development is a half a trillion dollars industry with room for more growth. If you have settled for a career in building mobile apps for a living then it’s best to follow our guide to picking the perfect beginner’s language for your training. Most of the aforementioned languages for desktop app development are also handy for mobile apps too but our top programming language choices for Mobile Applications Development are: Java, Swift (in conjunction with Objective-C), and Kotlin.
Java: is one of the most popular and used languages in the programming world. It is a flexible and dynamic language that is used in developing Android applications for your mobile phone. As of today, Android has over 70% of the total mobile OS market implying that the future is still very much bright for Java. The best place to start with learning Java is by going through Google’s Android Developer Library which is well-documented and has a comprehensive set of learning materials. Another advantage Java has over other mobile app development languages is its cross-platform app development which means it can also handle Apple’s iOS and Windows apps. Java truly rules the mobile app world!
Swift (in conjunction with Objective-C): Swift is a newer language intended to work with Objective-C to build mobile applications for Apple’s iOS. It’s even quickly becoming an accepted language for general purpose programming. Swift is an open-source language meaning: any app developer using a Linux OS can operate on it to develop iOS applications. In simple terms, let say you have say a Windows Computer but you want to build an app for iPhones. You can install a Linux OS on your PC and start developing iOS mobile applications that would run just perfectly using Swift! This feature has made Swift to be increasingly popular among iOS app developers.
Kotlin: is a programming language introduced by JetBrains, the official designer of the most intelligent Java IDE, named IntelliJ IDEA. Kotlin was designed to work with Java as an open-source language which runs on Java Virtual Machine (JVM). In basic terms, Kotlin is like the simplified version of Java with better readability, more improved syntax and most importantly: it is way easier to learn. If you want to start creating Android apps in a few days time then Kotlin is your best bet. It works perfectly on Android Studio which is the most popular desktop application used for building Android mobile apps.
VERDICT : Java is our go-to language here while you can learn Kotlin along with it as you expand your learning into building actual Android mobile applications. Or you can simply go for Swift if you are only interested in becoming a specialized iOS developer as even Java has its own limitations in iOS app development.

FOR SYSTEMS PROGRAMMING :
Well this is a broad and intricate aspect of software development which is not advisable as the starting point for newbie programmers. System programming involves the development of computer programs that allows the hardwares of a computer to interface with the programmer or the user thereby making the entire computing system to function as a single unit. Such software programs affect the functionality of every other softwares when installed or uninstalled. Thinking of diving into systems programming? Then think big like developing an entirely new operating system (OS) or game engines. In order to be a systems programmer, you have to be well skilled in any low-level language of your choice like C++, Rust or Go.
VERDICT : Personally we recommend Go (also known as Golang) for beginner systems programmers.

FOR AI/MACHINE LEARNING :
Machine learning is a subset of AI (artificial intelligence). In general, AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence into machines that are programmed to think and behave like we humans. The focus of this field is to program softwares that can learn from synthesizing existing data thereby making them more intelligent (like we humans do after learning) and capable of making human-like decisions. Think for example, the development of a chess computer game whereby the users can play with the computer in a single player mode. The computer is already programmed with a thought process of a chess player making it behave like a possible fellow human chess player. The most popular programming languages for machine learning include: Python, JavaScript, R and Java. On our recommendation list, we are going to limit them to only two: Python and R.
R: is a free software environment programming language that supports statistical computing, graphics representation and reporting. For most beginner programmers, R is said to be hard to learn due to its radical difference compared to other analytic softwares; whereas, most academia prefer it to the other options out there. If you can take your time to master R then you are certain to enjoy its extreme power and flexibility in solving analytical problems.
Python: Once again the multi-dimensional and most user-friendly language makes our list. Python can now be said to be the lingua franca for AI programmers. It comes with numerous packages and libraries e.g Pandas, Numpy, Scipy, Scikit-learn, TensorFlow, Pytorch, OpenCV and many more. Its vast library collection makes Python very convenient and perfect for building programs in data science, image processing, scientific computing and other AI inclined fields!
VERDICT : Python wins here, no question asked.

UNDECIDED ON WHERE TO SPECIALIZE ON?
Are you still undecided on your area of interest, if YES, we advise you to pick Python for a start and go ahead to YouTube @"Mosh Hamedani Python" to get started. It is a 6hours long tutorial video that covers every important aspect of Python applications from its basics, logic, advanced level programming, then to its application in AI/Machine learning and Web programming. After you get confident in your coding skills with Python then you can boldly proclaim that your programming career journey is fully on!



Technology . Programming . Decision Making

Comments


Jossy Ora

I still can't decided if i should settle for mobile app development or AI. I guess i will have to learn both Python and Java!


Rita Amadi

Great article, thanks Admin for the insight.

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