Digital Skynet - 15 Best Languages for Programming in 2020

15 Best Languages for Programming in 2020

April 07, 2020
#programming # language # development

In order to assemble this list, we naturally needed to do some research. Everything from the latest updates, popularity, number of repositories on GitHub to the talent pool and developer feedback was taken into account. It’s important to address that the positions on the list don’t mean one language is objectively better than the next. Some languages are more niche and others are general-purpose. It largely depends on the type of work you need to do. Without any further ado, let’s get to the list.


1. Python


Python has proven itself to be one of the best languages for programming currently available due to the range of its uses and functionality. It first appeared on monitors in 1990 thanks to a Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum. With more than 115 thousand repositories on GitHub and an ever-increasing interest trend, there is no sign of Python slowing down anytime soon.


Python popularity

Platform:

Web, Desktop

Suitable for:


Advantages:

  • Flexible.
  • Open-source.
  • Wide range of support libraries.
  • Intuitive code readability.
  • Supports a large number of platforms.
  • Plenty of official documentation and tutorials for help.
  • Adheres to Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) principles.
  • Improves coder’s productivity.
  • Easy scalability even for complex applications.
  • It offers an environment useful for testing out ideas and designing prototypes.
  • A huge community that is constantly growing.

Disadvantages:

  • Primitive database functionality.
  • Not fit for mobile development.
  • Lack of some programming basics at the start.
  • Due to Python being an interpreted programming language, it is slower.
  • Global Interpreter Lock (GIL) makes threading worse.

2. JavaScript


JavaScript is a high-level programming language that has been a staple of web development for years. It was created by Brandan Eich and first released in 1995. It was considered to be limited to just front-end however with frameworks such as Node.JS it is capable of powerful server-side programming as well. JS remains one of the most popular languages with more than 125 thousand projects on GitHub at the start of 2020.


JavaScript popularity

Platform:

Web, Mobile

Suitable for:

  • Web development
  • Back-end development
  • Serverless computing
  • Mobile development
  • Game development

Advantages:

  • Easy learning process.
  • All-around flexible and diverse.
  • Very fast, especially on the client-side.
  • Implementation is simple.
  • Works well with other programming languages.
  • Executable snippets support via Greasemonkey and other addons.
  • It provides tools to design more detailed web interfaces.
  • JavaScript apps have a reduced load on the servers.
  • ECMAScript specification results in regular updates.
  • Massive community support.

Disadvantages:

  • It doesn’t allow multiple inheritances.
  • Different browsers interpret JavaScript differently.
  • No copy or equivalent method.
  • A percentage of users disable JavaScript in their browsers.

3. Java


In 1995 James Gosling created a general-purpose programming language named Java. that would adhere to the WORA principle (Write Once, Run Anywhere). Ever since It remained a solid choice for many companies in need of software. It’s traditionally favored more by big organizations due to its stability. As of the date of writing there is over 86k repositories on GitHub. Despite the slight decrease in popularity it still remains one of the most used languages today.


Java popularity

Platform:

Web, Desktop, Mobile

Suitable for:


Advantages:

  • Adheres to OOP principles.
  • A large number of APIs and open-source libraries for a variety of tasks.
  • Open-source tools for Rapid Application Development (RAD).
  • A good starting point to develop the programmer way of thinking.
  • Runs on most operating systems and able to access the file system, sound, and graphics.
  • Automatic garbage collection.
  • Stack and memory allocation systems.
  • Java Virtual Machine (JVM) offers cross-platform independence.
  • A combination of access to classes with a security manager and explicit pointer execution ensures a higher degree of security.
  • Multithreading support.
  • A fantastic choice for distributed programming.

Disadvantages:

  • Complicated vocabulary.
  • Memory management is expensive.
  • A limiting lack of templates.
  • Slower than some other languages such as C/C++

4. C


C is a veteran among programming languages. Released in 1972 by Dennis Ritchie, it has seen many iterations and became a starting point for the creation of other languages such as C++ and C#. It’s still relevant though. In fact, the TIOBE rating named it the programming language of 2019.


C popularity

Platform:

Desktop, Mobile, Embedded

Suitable for:


Advantages:

  • Efficient and comprehensible.
  • Fast program execution.
  • Suitable for learning the basics of coding at a low hardware level.
  • Access to hidden and blocked by other languages objects.
  • Enhanced portability.
  • Easy testing and debugging process.

Disadvantages:

  • Hard to learn for a beginner because of a complicated syntax.
  • Lack of support for program namespace.
  • Somewhat outdated and incapable of solving some modern problems.
  • High-level constructs have to be created manually.
  • No garbage collection or memory allocation.
  • Lack of run-time checking.
  • Absence of strict type-checking functionality.
  • Limited default library.
  • Frequent memory corruption and buffer overflow.

5. C#


This general-purpose programming language released in 2000 has the backing of Microsoft. It is a part of its .NET initiative that is still going strong to this day. It’s widely used for backend programming, enterprise software, and game development via Unity. With over 21 thousand repositories on GitHub, it has cemented its place as a reliable programming tool.


C# popularity

Platform:

Desktop, Web, Mobile

Suitable for:

  • Enterprise software development
  • Server-side programming
  • Web development
  • Game development

Advantages:

  • Adheres to object-oriented and component-oriented paradigms.
  • An easy learning process for anyone familiar with C.
  • Works extremely well on Windows-based platforms.
  • Integration with a robust .NET platform with its variety of libraries extending the possibilities of this language
  • The time required for compilation and execution is lower than for most other languages.
  • C# provides a more secure environment than both C and C++ by virtue of not allowing pointer types and providing type safety support.
  • It’s possible to work with shared codebases.
  • It has a great degree of scalability.
  • A wide variety of data types and library functions.

Disadvantages:

  • Unsafe blocks still allow pointers.
  • If you’re not already familiar with the C family of languages the learning process is quite difficult.
  • Implicit memory deallocation.
  • The error handling process is complicated.
  • Less flexible than C++.

6. C++


Created in 1983 by Bjarne Stroustrup, a computer scientist from Denmark, as an extension of C. Since then it has matured into a viable standalone high-level programming language. The quickness and stability of C++ along with the STL collection of libraries makes it a great choice for the development of reliable software.


C++ popularity

Platform:

Desktop, Mobile, Embedded

Suitable for:

  • Embedded systems
  • IoT and real-time systems
  • AI, machine learning and deep learning
  • Game development
  • Graphic compilers

Advantages:

  • A lot of libraries and compilers to choose from.
  • Efficient and comprehensible.
  • Fast program execution.
  • Suitable for learning the basics of coding at a low hardware level.
  • Minimal level of obstruction by virtue of running close to the hardware.
  • Considered to have a greater level of control compared to most other languages.
  • Possibility for cross-platform development.
  • Function overload and exception handling features.

Disadvantages:

  • Hard to learn for a beginner because of a complicated syntax.
  • The standard library is fairly small.
  • Basic object orientation in comparison to other languages.
  • No garbage collection or memory allocation.
  • Lack of run-time checking.
  • Frequent memory corruption and buffer overflow.

7. Go


Here’s a programming language that’s on the rise. It was created at Google by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson in 2009. It already has more than 35 thousand repositories on GitHub, which shows how rapidly it grows. With a massive corporation such as Google backing it, it’s a good time to jump on board.


Go popularity

Platform:

Desktop, Mobile, Web

Suitable for:

  • Cloud-native development
  • Single-page applications (SPA)
  • Serverless computing
  • IoT
  • Web development
  • Business apps
  • Utilities for consoles

Advantages:

  • Message-passing concurrency via CSP.
  • One of the faster languages because of compilation straight to the machine code.
  • Easy concurrent programming.
  • Enhanced security by virtue of it being a statically-typed language.
  • Beginner-friendly. Minimalist and easy to learn syntax.
  • The standard library makes working with primitive types is easier.
  • Go has the support of Google behind it.
  • Well-written documentation.

Disadvantages:

  • No centralized dependency management.
  • No virtual machine functionality.
  • Lacking library support such as GUI support.
  • Implicit interface implementation.
  • Less flexible than other popular languages.

8. PHP


Created in 1995 by Rasmus Lerdorf, PHP has been one of the most relevant general-purpose backend programming languages for years. While it has been declining in popularity in recent years, it still has a lot to offer and a lot of mature large corporations still actively use it to this day. The large talent pool and over 52k GitHub repositories are the proof of that.


PHP popularity

Platform:

Web

Suitable for:

  • CMS system development
  • Server-side web development
  • Standalone web development
  • eCommerce apps

Advantages:

  • Adheres to OOP principles.
  • Supports the paradigms of functional programming.
  • PHP is easy to run.
  • Huge community with open-source projects.
  • There is a wide range of frameworks expanding PHP’s functionality.
  • Decent system for automatic testing and deployment.
  • Xdebug is considered to be one of the best tools for debugging.

Disadvantages:

  • No tools for handling errors.
  • Considered by some to be less secure than other languages.
  • A comparatively slow development process.
  • Needs extra extensions to use PHP to its full potential.

9. Swift


Swift is the go-to programming language for Apple platforms. Created by an internal team lead by Chris Lattner in 2014, it has been used for the development of their apps ever since. Despite this platform limitation, Apple products continue to grow in popularity. As a result, Swift managed to attract many developers that look to the future.


Swift popularity

Platform:

Mobile, Desktop, Web

Suitable for:

  • Mobile development for iOS
  • IoT
  • Deep learning
  • WebAssembly-enabled client-side development

Advantages:

  • Easy to read language because of the similarity to natural English.
  • A fast development process, especially when used for both front-end and back-end.
  • Memory leak safeguards by virtue of the robust Automatic Memory Management.
  • It allows developers to add and expand upon Swift’s features making it scalable.
  • Works well with Objective-C.
  • Server-side integration is possible with any platforms.
  • The code is easy to share.
  • Swift has the backing of Apple.

Disadvantages:

  • Unstable due to frequent updates.
  • A smaller community compared to more mature languages.
  • Swift doesn’t support legacy apps older than iOS7.

10. Ruby


Ruby is a general-purpose language that was built with an idea of combining the best features of Eiffel, Perl, Smalltalk, and other languages. Designed in 1995 by Yukihiro Matsumoto, it’s considered to be somewhat of a niche option since it’s not as widespread as Python or JavaScript, for example. However, it still has a strong community thanks to it’s acclaimed Ruby on Rails framework.


Ruby popularity

Platform:

Web

Suitable for:

  • Frontend web development
  • Backend web development
  • Data analysis

Advantages:

  • Flexible and open-source.
  • Easily readable syntax with no special vocabulary.
  • Adheres to OOP principles.
  • Garbage collection capability.
  • Framework and tooling support.
  • Extremely quick development speed.
  • The final code is usually more compact in comparison to other languages.
  • Dedicated support community.
  • A large number of libraries and “gems”.

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to get used to the original coding language.
  • Ruby generates errors in runtime and is generally hard to debug.
  • Slow runtime speed.

11. R


R programming language has found its niche in being one of the go-to environments for data science and machine learning. It was designed in 1995 by Robert Gentleman and Ross Ihaka. While it’s not a general-purpose language like many on this list it is considered to be one of the best when it comes to statistics and data analytics.


R popularity

Platform:

Desktop

Suitable for:

  • Statistical computing
  • Data science
  • AI and machine learning

Advantages:

  • Great for statistical analysis.
  • Easy coding process for a statistical language.
  • It is completely open-source.
  • Extensible and adjustable to your requirements.
  • Support for Linux/GNU-based development.
  • Platform-agnostic language.
  • Actively growing community.
  • A strong package ecosystem.

Disadvantages:

  • Lower quality of some packages.
  • Can eat up all available memory due to poor memory management capabilities.
  • R lacks some security features.
  • No standard programming guidelines.

12. TypeScript


TypeScript is a programming language designed at Microsoft in 2012 as a superset of JavaScript. It has been one of the fastest-growing technologies on GitHub with more than 30 thousand repositories already. TypeScript was bound to gain traction by improving upon the well-established JavaScript without major alterations.


TypeScript popularity

Platform:

Web, Mobile

Suitable for:

  • Web development
  • Back-end development
  • Serverless computing
  • Mobile development
  • Game development

Advantages:

  • The language is open-source.
  • Works seamlessly well with JavaScript.
  • Easy to pick up for anybody familiar with JavaScript.
  • ECMAScript specification results in regular updates.
  • Strict and structural types of typing.
  • Introduces elements of object-oriented programming.
  • You benefit from the massive JavaScript support community.

Disadvantages:

  • Absence of a package manager.
  • The typing system is complicated and difficult to get used to.
  • Mandatory compilation.
  • Despite the many checks in place, it’s not 100% secure.

13. Rust


Rust is a programming language based on the syntax of C++. It was created in 2012 by Graydon Hoare at Mozilla with a focus on safety and performance. After the release, it has been steadily growing in popularity and was named StackOverflow’s most loved language for every year since 2016.


Rust popularity

Platform:

Desktop, Mobile, Embedded

Suitable for:

  • Embedded systems
  • IoT and real-time systems
  • AI, machine learning and deep learning
  • Game development
  • Graphic compilers

Advantages:

  • High level of security achieved by restricted access to unnecessary memory parts.
  • Focus on the speed of development.
  • Rust works well on different operating systems.
  • Robust error handling.
  • Built upon the best qualities of C++.
  • Despite being at its best in low-level programming, it has plenty of high-level techniques as well.

Disadvantages:

  • Steeper learning curve than many other languages.
  • Rust is a relatively young programming language with a small support community.
  • It doesn’t have any garbage collection functionality.
  • Rust outputs large size files.
  • Compilation takes comparatively more time.

14. Scala


Scala is a general-purpose language developed in 2004 by Martin Odersky. The main driving force behind it was improving upon Java. As a result, its fixed drawbacks and the ability of two languages to work together made it popular among the community of Java developers.


Scala popularity

Platform:

Web, Desktop, Mobile

Suitable for:


Advantages:

  • Adheres to OOP principles.
  • It has a robust virtual machine.
  • Scala is built with the best features of Java in mind.
  • The language allows for easy concurrent programming.
  • A strong-typed programming language, which makes it more bug-resistant.
  • It has customizable data types.

Disadvantages:

  • Steep learning curve.
  • The community is fairly small and the talent pool is limited.
  • When compared to Java, many of Scala’s tools aren’t mature enough.

15. MATLAB


MATLAB is a powerful tool and a programming language finely tuned for data analysis and matrix manipulation. It is one of the oldest on this list with the first working versions going back to the late 1970s but it is still just as relevant and innovative. The latest stable release at the moment of writing was in March of 2020.


MATLAB popularity

Platform:

Desktop

Suitable for:

  • Numerical computing
  • Data analytics
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Computer vision
  • Image processing
  • App development
  • GUI development
  • Scientific simulations

Advantages:

  • It comes with an extensive library.
  • Works well with and converts to other languages such as Python, C, C++, and Java.
  • A wide range of toolboxes that extend the possibilities of this language.
  • It works regardless of the platform.
  • MATLAB doesn’t need to compile the code before execution.
  • It has inbuilt tools for debugging and visualization of data.
  • Good official support and documentation.

Disadvantages:

  • MATLAB is proprietary and requires an expensive license to use.
  • It’s a niche language that doesn’t offer much outside of it’s targeted field.
  • The speed is lower by virtue of it being an interpreted language.
  • Steep learning curve.

Rounding It Up


Staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the technology field is crucial for any software development company. The same can be said about keeping up with the best languages for programming. Each one is different the same way no two projects are identical. Picking the correct tool for the job is a prerequisite of success. That’s why being aware of all the releases, updates, and what they entail allows us at Digital Skynet to create custom software in the most efficient manner.

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