July 12, 2022
Every programming language has its pros and cons, but it pays (literally) to know where the industry is heading. Today we’ll cover the top 5 most popular programming languages developers are using in 2022, and why you should learn them.
We chose these 5 languages based on not only technical factors such as complexity and performance but also important non-technical statistics like demand in the job market and salary.
Python is the king of programming languages in 2022. A favorite to students, professional developers, and research scientists alike, it is a general-purpose programming language with a huge range of functionalities.
Python’s use cases are virtually unlimited, ranging from running state-of-the-art machine learning models to web app development (massively popular frameworks like Django and Flask are built on Python) to statistical analysis. If there’s an application to be built, it can probably be built using Python.
If you want to work as a software engineer, there’s a 99% chance you’ll cross paths with Python. For starters, the vast majority of technical coding interviews are done in Python. The simplicity of the syntax (it’s way more efficient to write by hand compared to verbose languages such as Java or C++) saves precious minutes, and candidates love it.
Finally, there’s employability. Being the most versatile programming language, the demand for Python developers in the job market is growing every year. In fact, Python is poised to overtake C/C++ and Java, the top historical powerhouse languages, in the next couple of years.
If you want to be a developer and only have the time to learn one language, go with Python.
Sometimes also referred to as Golang to avoid confusion, Go is a (relatively) young programming language that has become very popular. First released in 2009, Go was created by top engineers at Google to support large-scale applications without the complexity and burden existing languages like C++ and Java had.
Go is a syntactically-clean, statically-typed programming language that is robust and ideal for large-scale servers and distributed architecture systems. Many medium to large tech companies use Go to build the infrastructure to support their product(s), and as the Internet grows more popular everyday more large-scale applications are also being developed.
In 2022, Go is becoming a requirement for many backend or infrastructure jobs, and as developers move from company to company they are introducing Go to more teams and companies. If you want to work on solving scalability problems and learn distributed system architecture, Go is a great programming language to learn.
Java has been one of the most popular programming languages since the 90s when it was first released. Many backend server applications are programmed in Java, especially older enterprise applications.
The way Java runs is slightly nuanced - Java programs are not compiled directly to machine code but instead an intermediate format called Java bytecode, and a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) runs the bytecode and converts it to machine code. Devices need to have an up-to-date Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed to run any Java programs, and developers need to have a separate piece of software known as the Java Development Kit (JDK) to actually develop Java programs.
This may seem complicated, and you may wonder “why is Java still popular given these requirements?”
First, Java provides platform independence. With the bytecode format, developers don’t need to worry about writing Java programs for different operating systems. As long as a device has a JRE installed, it can run any Java program.
Second, the JRE is available for most operating systems. If it’s not already installed, it usually only takes a few clicks to complete the installation.
Finally, with the rise of mobile in the late 2000s, Java gained another key use case as the primary programming language for Android, and despite Android tapping into Kotlin as an alternative language, millions of developers still write Android apps in Java. It’s worth noting, however, that Android is developed using the Java syntax, it does not actually use the JRE - it uses a different runtime environment instead and the operating system itself is Linux-based.
There are plenty of companies still building products with Java, so there is no shortage of demand in the job market, and combined with its use in Android development, Java is definitely a worthwhile language to learn.
The oldest and perhaps most powerful programming languages on this list, C and C++ are low-level programming languages that interface closer with the hardware that make up computers.
C is a bare-bones programming language that only offers primitive and fixed types and no error handling. It’s mostly suited for very low-level software and firmware such as drivers for devices. In fact, many embedded device programming is done in C and sometimes operating systems aren’t even needed.
C++ is a superset of C, and it supports a much larger variety of applications. It boasts many performance advantages of low-level programming languages while providing more standard features such as generic types and object-oriented programming (OOP). Developers often leverage C++ for high-performance, compute-intensive applications as it tends to perform better than most other programming languages.
Both C and C++, however, still lack a lot of the automatic functionalities other languages provide such as memory management, but offer more freedom to developers. C/C++ has a much steeper learning curve, and it can take developers many years to become experts in the language.
Aside from general software engineering roles, there are a host of developer jobs in specialized industries that require extensive C/C++ experience. Some interesting examples include video games (3D graphics are very compute-heavy), high-frequency trading (performance difference in milliseconds can make millions of dollars), and operating systems (yes, many of the operating systems we use and love today were written in C/C++).