What Is the Best Coding Language to Learn First?
With so many programming languages to choose from, you may be asking yourself: What programming language should I learn? There are a lot of programming languages to study and every industry has some that are best suited for it. However, some coding languages are more popular than others and are a great place to start your learning journey.
In order to choose which coding language to learn first, you need to decide which industry you are most interested in. Prioritizing skills in that field can help you get started. To help you make that decision, in this article we take a close look at the most common programming languages for beginners.
What Are Programming Languages?
A programming language is a language used by a programmer to interact with a machine and get it to perform a specific function. The primary language that computers understand is binary, made up of ones and zeros. This means that programming languages must be translated into binary so that the computer can understand the commands.
Programming languages are the main tools at the disposal of web developers, software engineers, and other computer science and information technology (IT) professionals. With programming languages, you can develop a computer program composed of instructions that the computer can execute to achieve a certain outcome.
Levels of Programming
There are two levels of programming languages and each has its purpose. There are low-level and high-level languages. Your choice of language level will depend largely on what you’re working on, though most programmers use high-level languages.
Low-level languages are either binary or assembly languages. These languages are easier for computers to understand and don’t need to be translated. High-level languages, on the other hand, are closer to the English language and are easier for programmers.
There are two types of low-level languages: binary languages and assembly languages. Binary code is the primary language that a computer understands and is also known as machine language.
An assembly language is a combination of letters and numbers compiled by an assembler and usually acts as a bridge between the hardware of the computer and a high-level programming language. In other words, assembly languages translate the coding languages used by programmers into machine language. They are often used in machine learning.
For humans, low-level languages are more difficult to learn and debug. Assembly languages are more user-friendly than binary code, which is much harder to navigate as it is very different from human language.
A high-level language is closer to human language. They generally use English words, which makes it easier for programmers to read and write commands to feed into the computer. Commonly used high-level programming languages include Python, Java, SQL, and C++.
High-level languages use Boolean operators (e.g. and, or, then) to ensure correct combinations of commands that result in different outcomes. High-level languages are mostly used in web development, software development, mobile development, application development, and desktop applications.
Types of Programming
Programming languages are categorized based on their functions. It’s important to understand each coding language’s nature and capabilities to understand why they are unique. This way, you will be able to differentiate each language and use them correctly. We dive deeper into each type of programming language below.
Procedural Programming Languages
Procedural programming languages are usually used in software development. The set of commands follows a specific order to reach the desired function or outcome. One of the advantages of these languages is that they can easily be used in all parts of a program. However, while these languages are good for operating systems, they might not be compatible with programs that handle data. Examples are C and Java.
Functional Programming Languages
Functional programming languages are commonly used for database management. The code is based on mathematical functions. Various conditional expressions are used to guarantee the correct function outcomes. A well-known functional programming language is SQL, which is the go-to for storing and processing all kinds of data.
Object-oriented Programming Language
An object-oriented programming language is also useful for managing data, especially for data modeling. Since an object already contains all the behavior that it needs to perform a specific function, programmers can easily manipulate it to get the desired outcome. This programming language is most useful for updating and maintaining data and similar functions. Python is an object-oriented programming language.
Scripting Programming Languages
Logic Programming Languages
Logic programming languages are composed of declarative statements that can be thought of as prerequisites for a single fact to be true. For instance, in order for A to be true, statements B1, B2, and B3 should also be true. One example of this is Prolog, a programming language used in machine learning and artificial intelligence to set rules and restrictions through a set of statements.
Easiest Programming Languages to Learn
What makes each programming language unique? What are their qualities and strengths? What makes a programming language ideal for a specific project or task? We answer these questions below in our list of the easiest programming languages to learn.
HTML and CSS
HTML and CSS are a popular choice for complete beginners. They are dynamic languages used most commonly in web design, specifically front end web development. HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, is a beginner-friendly language used to organize the structure of a web page. You need HTML to properly arrange the elements of a web page and its contents in a way that is easiest for the user.
Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, is needed to make a website look attractive. Fonts, colors, layout, and overall style can be modified using CSS. HTML and CSS go hand-in-hand and can be learned by anyone, even absolute beginners.
Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP, is another programming language that is useful for web development. It is one of the most popular scripting languages as it contains HTML code that can be generated easily. You can install a PHP script to accelerate some processes.
PHP is also useful for database management. In combination with MySQL, PHP can be used to improve the storing and management of data. As a server-side scripting language, PHP can simply be stored into servers; it will automatically fulfill its intended purpose when you pull it up. PHP is compatible with several operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
C# is another popular language among developers. C# was created by Microsoft and can only be operated via the .NET Framework. It has similarities with Java, C, and C++. As an object-oriented programming language, C# makes it easy to find data patterns and handle debugging, among other tasks.
As a type-safe language, C# is great for software development. With C#, you can secure your data and prevent loss because the language does not allow the conversion of an object to another data type. C# was created by Microsoft, so, as one would expect, it is most useful in video game, cloud, web application, and mobile app development.
Python is one of the most popular programming languages. It is widely used by different industries and tech companies for software development, web development, and more. Through Python, data modeling and analytics yield better results. Python is also used in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Some of the biggest names using Python are Netflix, Google, and Spotify. As a high-level programming language, Python is easy to read and works well even in complex programs. Due to its widespread use, courses for beginners and advanced learners are readily available online.
Structured Query Language, or SQL, has many applications, but it is commonly used for database management. Specifically, it is used to deal with relational databases where related data is constantly being searched, inserted, deleted, and updated.
SQL helps users to access data and pull up the information that they want from the database. It is also easier to define and manipulate data through SQL. With this language, you can set specific permissions or restrictions to data tables and procedures. If you want to work as a database administrator, you have to master SQL.
The R programming language is mainly used for statistical purposes. You can use R for data handling and storage. It is also widely used for data analysis as it has all you need to create useful results graphs and data modeling.
Some other applications of R include machine learning, linear regression and time series, and statistical modeling. This programming language is popular in the fields of finance and economics. It is reliable in predicting future outcomes based on historical data.
Choosing the Best Programming Language to Learn
There are multiple factors to consider when deciding which language to learn other than whether it is useful for your career. Whether you are aiming for a developer job or any other position in a tech company, here are the factors to keep in mind when choosing a language to learn.
The types of applications you want to develop
The language of choice of the company
If you are looking for job opportunities with specific tech companies, you might want to research which programming language they are using. Some companies are more partial to one specific language. It is also possible that the nature of the product or service that the company is developing demands one particular language.
Scale, performance, and capability
Your chosen programming language should match the requirements of the product that you are developing. It should be able to meet the demands of your vision and perform as expected. Choose a programming language that can keep up with your needs.
Community support and maintenance
Computers are constantly evolving, so programming languages require frequent updates. You have to consider if the language has an active community that is supporting its developments and making sure that the open-source libraries are updated. In other words, choose a programming language that will be around for a long time.
If data privacy is important for your project, you need to choose a programming language with strong security features. Some industries have set standards and compliance measures and only some languages can meet them.
What Are the Best Ways to Learn a Language?
Learning your first programming language is not an easy feat. You are not only learning a language; you are also familiarizing yourself with coding and with a new way of thinking. Here are some of the best ways to learn a language.
Take a coding bootcamp program
Enroll in a class
Practice coding every day
Whether it is for a project or a personal activity, you need to practice coding every day. You need to learn how to build and create lines of codes as well as solve issues that come up. Practicing is especially important if you want to master a specific language.
Apply for an internship
Learning to code professionally through an internship can be a great way to build a strong technical and professional foundation. You can practice coding for specific projects for clients. You can also learn a lot about how to navigate the professional world by collaborating with colleagues as part of a team.
What If I Choose the Wrong Programming Language?
It takes time, effort, and even money to master a programming language. Often, you go into it already knowing what you want to work on. However, if you learn a programming language that you will not be able to use in your job, don’t worry. Think of it as an additional skill that you will use at some point in the future.
Moreover, remember that learning one programming language helps learn the next. After learning your first programming language, you acquire certain skills (debugging, solving real-world problems, dynamic thinking) and become familiarized with a certain way of reasoning. This will undoubtedly make it easier to learn the next programming language.