5 Programming Languages To Learn in 2018 (Part I)

With so many programming languages to choose from which should you be checking out this year?

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When working in software development, it’s always important to stay up-to-date and be willing to adapt. This field is very much a dynamic one. There’s always a new and up and coming language, framework and technology that can be learned. And just as fast as they can appear, they can disappear too. But with so many options at hand, it may be difficult for newcomers and even experienced developers to choose what to learn next. So, which one should you go for?

Well, part of the answer to that question is subjective. Certainly, you’ll have your preferences when programming in different languages. Sometimes a language that you may genuinely enjoy is one that someone else would avoid. But with that being said, there are programming languages that are more in-demand than others, and that makes a better career path as well.

Measuring the popularity of coding languages is not as simple as one may think. As a result, this article will be calling upon three reports to back-up the claims of what languages are best to take on in 2018. The three reputable websites are TIOBE, GitHub, and Stack Overflow. For some these names may be common knowledge, but for others not so much. Here’s a short run-down on what they are:

Tiobe Programming index is a software quality company that has provided an index of what are the most popular programming languages. It is calculated based on the number of search engine results for queries which contains the programming language’s name.

GitHub Octoverse is one of the most popular and largest coding repositories available online. The metric that will be used is from their statistics on the language with the most pull requests.

Stack Overflow is an online community where developers can come together to learn and share knowledge. Each year they conduct a 30-minute survey asking developers what are their favorite technologies, languages, work preferences, and much more. This article will focus on the category “Most Popular Programming, Scripting, and Markup Language” which had 78,334 respondents who had to select all that applied to them. The stats were released January 2018.

Now… who made the list?

JavaScript

First on the list is a language that’s still dominating after having been around for already quite some time: JavaScript. It’s a client-side programming language which runs in a web browser offering an experience that is both dynamic and interactive. But if you want to start learning it, it’s noteworthy to mention you should also have a grasp of both HTML and CSS. Now once you check that all off the list, you can start trying out it’s different frameworks. If front-end is more for you, you can look at React and AngularJS, or you can also opt for backend with Node.js. But let’s say you would rather work in mobile app development, JavaScript offers frameworks to build them as well!

The Stats: At the end of 2017, GitHub Octoverse recorded that the most popular language was JavaScript with 2.3 million opened pull requests. This means that JavaScript topped the 337 other unique programming languages used in over 67 million repositories. As for in Stack Overflow, it’s listed as the most popular programming language at 69.8%. In addition, the top three most popular frameworks are linked to JavaScript. But JavaScript does not always make it to the top in all reports. While still in the top ten, it rests in eighth place with a search popularity of 3.465% in TIOBE’s reports.

Python

Next on the list, we have Python. This is a great language for those just starting out to program due to its simple, well-structured, and readable syntax. For those interested in web development with Python, you can check-out it’s compatible frameworks like Flask and Django. But if machine learning is more your niche, there’s the framework scikit-learn you can have a look at. And that’s the great thing about learning Python, how versatile it is as a language. Python opens doors in different fields such as Fintech AI, machine learning, big data, and even Blockchain.

The Stats: Coming in second in GitHub Octoverse, Python has roughly one million opened pull requests. Then with TIOBE, it’s fourth at 4,677%. And finally, in Stack Overflow, in the category of most popular languages it holds a solid 38.8%. So, overall Python does quite well in its rankings.

Swift

Newer to the scene is Swift, a programming language used for developing iOS and Mac OS apps. So, if you’re thinking that you’d want to create apps for Apple products, be sure to check out this language. A real benefit of learning Swift has to do with the current popularity of Apple. You can be sure that these products are going to be in-demand for the long-run and that makes it more profitable for you as a developer. On top of that, this language is also easier for beginners to learn. Not only is it easily readable, it is also a statically typed language. Basically, that means that the environment that you type your code in, known as Xcode, will help identify and track errors you might’ve missed.

The Stats: In GitHub Octoverse, Swift was lower in the list with only 107K opened pull requests made in 2017. Next, we have TIOBE’s index which has Swift ranked 12th with 2.377%. Finally, on Stack Overflow, Swift’s popularity rested at 8.1%. One potential reason for these numbers may have to do with the fact that Swift is relatively new and only introduced in 2014. For instance, also seen on Stack Overflow, Swift outranks both PHP, JavaScript, and Java with developers worldwide making an average salary of $54K.

Java

This is a language that has been around for over twenty years, and just like JavaScript, it’s still going strong. But this language can be complex to learn and might require more effort than other languages. Java is an object oriented programming language which means . There are plenty of tools and libraries available to help design and implement features to build a top-notch application. This might explain why 90% of Fortune 500 Companies have been using this language for their own development. And like other languages mentioned here, the chose is yours between web development and Android app development as Java can build both.

Stats: Java has done considerably well in its rankings compared to other languages. Firstly, in GitHub Octoverse, it comes in third with 986K opened pull requests — so, not too far behind Python at 1M. Then, we have TIOBE where Java takes the top place with 14.941%. This is 2.181% higher than C in second place, and 8.489% higher than the C++ in third. As for on Stack Overflow, 45.3% of respondents chose Java.

PHP

Another language to add to your skill list is PHP. Learning this server-side scripting language will give you that push needed in web development to be successful. Just look how extensively it’s being used by a number of top websites. Facebook, Wikipedia, Wordpress… and the list goes on. But it’s not only a valuable language to know, it’s also not too difficult to learn. If you do decide try PHP out, you have different frameworks that you can choose from, such as Laravel or Symfony to create websites and web applications. But you can also try making WordPress plugins and even maintaining WordPress websites as well.

The Stats: Recorded in GitHub Octoverse, PHP falls on the lower end of the spectrum with 0.56M. For the TIOBE rating, PHP is ranked seventh with 4.010%. And then we have Stack Overflow where PHP was selected by 30.7% of those who took the survey.


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Sophie van Wersch graduated with a B.A. from the University College of Maastricht, majoring in International Politics and Sociology. Soon after graduating, she made plans for a career change into the tech industry. This led to her attending the New York Code + Design Academy in Amsterdam where she completed a 3-month full-stack development bootcamp. She is now working as a web and back-end developer at the IBM Client Innovation Center Benelux in Amsterdam.

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