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Coding Beginner’s Choice. Which Programming Language to Learn in 2021

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Let’s say you are thinking of learning how to code to be able to either work as a professional software developer or to build your own projects. Any career in software development basically starts with a choice. At the very beginning, you need to pick the programming language you're going to go in. And this choice most likely will reflect on the whole career in coding that is lying ahead of you (if your desire to get into this industry is strong enough of course). So you better give it some careful thinking before diving into the learning process. As someone said, it's not about making the right choice. It's about making a choice and making it right. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular programming languages among beginners, trying to understand their purposes, future perspectives, pluses and minuses, to choose the one. Coding Beginner’s Choice. Which Programming Language to Learn in 2021 - 1


Python typically competes with Java for the name of the best programming language to learn first. It is one of the simplest coding languages to learn, easy to use and widely accepted. According to the latest State of The Developer Nation report by Slashdata, currently there are over 8.4 mln Python programmers in the world. In the last several years Python has been growing like crazy and even surpassed Java as the 2nd most popular language in the world (JavaScript is the leader). Python is widely used and considered to be the best choice for various AI and machine learning / deep learning projects, as well as data science, and this is one of the main reasons its popularity is booming right now. Python is also commonly used to develop web and GUI-based desktop apps, IoT apps, etc. But Python has some disadvantages too. Its main weaknesses are using a lot of memory (it is not memory efficient like Java) and having slow processing power. As Python is an interpreted and dynamically-typed language, the execution of Python code goes relatively slow. This is one if the main reasons Python is not popular in mobile computing: considering speed is crucially important for mobile apps, Java is a much better choice to program applications compared to Python. Speed and memory usage issues pretty much limit Python’s usage only to the processes where speed is not an important aspect. According to Indeed, Python is also leading by the number of jobs, with over 17,000 open jobs for Python developers available in the U.S. as of November 2020.


Java has been the top choice in the enterprise and mobile sectors for a while now and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Being one of the most versatile programming languages in the world, Java these days is used almost everywhere in terms of platforms, technologies, and economy sectors. It is currently the most popular back end programming language in mobile development (Android, primarily), as well as very common in cloud-based solutions and in a number of other hot and trending tech niches such as IoT and Big Data. That’s why the need for qualified and experienced Java developers around the world keeps increasing despite the fact there are so many Java coders out there already. According to the TIOBE index, measuring the popularity of programming languages among developers based on a number of criteria, Java is currently the second most popular coding language in the world, just slightly behind C. Today the total number of Java developers globally is over 7 mln (based on different estimates, there are 6.8-8 mln Java coders in the world), which puts it on the third spot behind only JavaScript and Python. As for the demand for Java developers, it stays at a very high-level year after year. According to a recent report by analytical company Burning Glass, Java Developer is one of the most common tech occupations in the U.S. On Indeed, currently, there are almost 22,000 open jobs for Java developers in the U.S. alone (more than Python developer jobs). Java is also one of the most requested tech skills overall. Interestingly, one study has found that Java developers are the least likely to leave their profession among all professionals in general, not just in the tech sector. Their career-switch rate is less than 8%, while for the software developer profession in general it’s 27%, and for database administrators, for example, it’s 35%. Even when offered a higher-level managerial position, the majority of Java coders just don’t want to give it up. This may be the best proof of Java programming being the right profession choice for the majority of coders. As for the disadvantages, Java is not the easiest language to learn and considered to be a bit more difficult than Python. On the other hand, having a powerful learning tool such as CodeGym could compensate for this disadvantage, while the booming job market and the industry being overcrowded with low-quality Java coders opens up brilliant perspectives for Java beginners in 2021.


JavaScript is the king of modern-day frontend development. Initially released in early 1996 during the “first browser war" between Microsoft with its Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator, these days JavaScript is the most obvious choice for designing interactive frontend applications thanks to a number of strengths. JavaScript is a multi-paradigm, high-level, and dynamic programming language. It became especially popular in the late 2000s when NodeJS, which is a JavaScript-based run-time environment, was released. Node.js allows developers to use the same language for server-side and client-side scripts, making it possible to produce dynamic web page content on the server-side before it is sent to the user's web browser. AngularJS, which is a JavaScript-based web development framework, is another important technology that makes JavaScript so popular and common in web development these days. Today JavaScript is the most popular programming language in the world based on the total number of coders — over 12 mln. And this number keeps growing as not only many beginners interested in web development choose JavaScript as their first language, but experienced coders are also frequently looking to add it to their job skills arsenal as the 2nd or 3d language. As for the demand, according to Indeed, currently there are over 22,000 open jobs for JavaScript developers in the U.S. alone.


C/C++ also could be qualified as a possible start in coding, but it won't be a walk in the park. C/C++ is considered to be a system-level programming language, widely used in operating systems, file systems, etc. C++ is also one of the most complicated programming languages to learn, as it offers a huge number of features, has a rather complex syntax, and suffers for a number of well-known issues such as buffer overflow and memory corruption. Despite the fact that complexity makes C/C++ not the greatest choice to start learning programming on it, these languages have one of the biggest developer communities in the world with over 6,3 mln people. According to Indeed, currently there are over 6,500 open jobs for C++ developers in the U.S. C++ programmers are in less demand compared to the top 3 programming languages (Java, Python, JavaScript) but you can still say there is a shortage of professional C++ coders. Today C/C++ is common in various application domains, including games, multi-platform GUI applications, and even mathematical simulations. The complexity of C/C++ would probably make it not the best choice for coding beginners, but rather a language to start learning after you already mastered an easier one, such as Java or Python.


PHP could be another decent option for your first programming language to learn. PHP is still among the most popular backend programming languages, even though it faces tough competition from JavaScript and Python. The popularity of PHP is slowly decreasing but in 2020 it is still in quite a demand, as many organizations still use PHP for the back end of their websites and projects. Today, according to the latest State of The Developer Nation report from SlashData, there are more than 5.7 mln PHP developers in the world. Indeed tells us there are over 4,000 open jobs for PHP developers currently in the U.S. Talking about the advantages of PHP, it is relatively easy to learn (roughly on the same level of complexity as Java), has lots of powerful frameworks, nice community support, and many automation tools for deployment and testing. The main disadvantages of PHP are poor security and error handling, slower speed compared to JavaScript. PHP could be a decent choice for your first programming language, but the fact that its popularity is decreasing, while PHP developers are also known to be paid the least compared to other coders, makes it a questionable one.


To conclude, each programming language has its strengths and weaknesses, along with the pros and cons to choose it as your first one. What really matters at the end is not which language you will decide to start with, but what your approach to learning will be. Coincidentally, the approach to learning is what we at CodeGym take great pride in. As this is what made the difference for the majority of our users who mastered Java on CodeGym and now work in software development. By the way, did you hear that CodeGym is offering a huuuge Сhristmas discount right now, 50% for a yearly subscription? Just saying.
Comments (3)
Chrisantus Makokha Level 32, Nairobi, Kenya
16 December 2020
Great article Brian.
MCantu Level 8, Texas, United States
15 December 2020
Loved the cons and pros of the top programming languages out there. Great comparison article. keep them coming please :)
Vitalina Level 20, Poland
14 December 2020
Nice article! It's good to know what's relevant now🙂