The growth and decline of programming languages
Several languages that were once popular have disappeared. For example, Perl and Pascal (which were mainstream languages in the past) have been replaced with high-level languages with better syntax. Lisp, which was the language of the AI back in 1980s, has branched out into Scheme, Clojure and a few others.
More recent languages like CoffeeScript have lost relevance when ES6 and TypeScript came into existence. 10 years ago, Ruby was hailed as one of the languages you shouldn’t miss. In 2018 , the number of Ruby and Ruby on Rails projects have diminished considerably.
Deciding to learn a new programming language?
4 questions every developer should ask:
- What is the base salary for that language?
- Is it popular right now?
- What is the learning curve?
- Will it be popular in the foreseeable future?
Java is used by almost 90% of the Fortune 500 companies, making it by far, one of the most popular programming languages. One of the reasons that Java is so powerful and popular is captured in its slogan – "write once, run anywhere". Java’s robust Java Virtual Machine or JVM makes this language compatible across platforms.
Some of the more popular career paths with Java include backend developer, embedded systems engineer, big data developer, and Android developer. Most of the Android apps are written in Java and supported by Google’s API which actually resembles JDK. Although Android uses a different JVM, the source is still written Java. Java also has a huge collection of libraries and packages for handling computationally intensive tasks - everything from media manipulation to machine learning.
Java 11, the latest Long-Term Support (LTS) release arrived just recently. Java and all its implementations are so popularly used that you can guarantee it to be around for the next decade and beyond. For instance, Google’s Android API uses something which is similar to Java SDK for creating Android applications. Server-side applications in the financial industry and popular eCommerce platforms are built on top of Spring MVC and other similar Java stacks.
In the modern landscape, Python is used for creating web applications, machine learning, building desktop apps, media tools, network servers, and more. However, the actual reason behind the phenomenal growth of the language is because developers love to use it for web development and data science.
Python is also used by large players including Google, NASA among many others. The Python code is clean, well structured and easily readable. Web frameworks using Python include Django and Flask which have been gaining popularity. The language is also well equipped with good quality machine learning as well as data analysis libraries like Pandas, NumPy, and Scikit-learn.
Overall, a career path with Python tends to be diverse and safe foreseeable future. Python is a good choice for everyone from amateur developers to data scientists largely as it is a high-level language that’s easy to read and understand. Apart from that, Python has got the greatest stack of libraries to get you started with machine learning.
C++, first created in 1985 is an incredibly flexible and efficient programming language. It has consistently remained in high demand largely due to its reliable performance and reliability and also the variety of contexts it can be used in.
There are plenty of large systems that have been developed and managed successfully with the use of C++. These include Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, and PayPal.
What does a career with the C++ offer? This largely involves the development of desktop applications, focusing especially on performance-intensive tasks. Moreover, most of the popular gaming platforms are built using C++ because it’s still extremely fast. You can include Assembly language code into your C++ code to speed things up. In addition to that, the code is compiled directly to machine code without an intermediate form like that of Java’s Bytecode.
Though a little more complex than the others on the list, once you are comfortable with using C++, you would have a far deeper understanding on how different languages work.
C# is an object-oriented language developed by Microsoft. C# and Visual Studio has helped developers build robust web and desktop applications for the Windows platform. C# brings together the best of two worlds - it offers performance similar to that of C++ and a syntax identical to that of Java. Apart from being used for developing desktop applications and games, it's also heavily deployed by enterprises and large businesses.
Unity Game Engine, for instance, uses C# as its core language and about 34% of mobile games are built on top of this platform. C# could grow further because VR technologies are heavily reliant on this platform. Although desktop applications are not as popular as they once used to be, C# is still a trending language. According to the TIOBE index and the PYPL index, C# is the 5th most popular language on the planet. The above-listed indexes use the search engine data to generate this report, and hence it's fair to say that C# is here to stay for a while.
Choosing a programming lanuage
Choosing a good programming language based on the current trends puts you in a good position of landing in a good development job. Here’s what we think about the 5 languages that we’ve covered in this article.
Java and C++ have been around for ages and they don't appear to be disappearing anytime soon. Most of the corporate world still relies on these languages. Java is still the most significant language used to build Android applications where as C++ powers games built for the console and Windows. They’re here to stay.
C# brings the best of both Java and C++. If you’re into game development, this might be a good language to learn. Looking forward, there is also considerable scope for the language for building VR apps. Apart from that C# is still used by enterprises for their server-side transactions.
Python was 5th in StackOverflow's list of popular languages back in 2012. But it's still red hot right now. Some of Python's packages, notably Pandas and NumPy have boosted its popularity. If you want to start your career in data science, Python is the best choice going forward. If you love Python's syntax, but your goal is to be a web developer, you should check out either Django or Flask.
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