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The most popular programming languages for building web sites in the 2020s

Programming languages are tools for creating computer applications and services. If you need a hammer, you use a hammer for a job. It sounds simple, but there are many programmers who are devoted to a language they love. They may even try to use a screwdriver when a hammer is required. Let’s study some statistics for assessing which language is the most beneficial for programmers who create web sites to master in the 2020s.

These are the top 5 programming languages we believe are essential to master in the 2020s for creating online services:

  • Java
  • Javascript
  • Python
  • PHP
  • C (along with flavors of C, like C++ and C#)

None of the tools we believe are important in the 2020s are the latest cool, highly hyped languages. The thing is that it takes time for a language to find its place in the business and technology world of the internet.

Which languages were widely taught in colleges and universities in the 2010s? Which language provides wide compatibility across servers, cloud systems, and client devices? Which language has plenty of resources available when business decisions are made? In the long term, answering these questions indicate the future potential of a language better than the hype factor of the latest scripting language.

Naturally, HTML and CSS are the default tools in every web site creator’s toolbox, but we are not addressing them here.

Software project management system Github has published its annual Octoverse report with a range of statistics on the ways programmers use the service. The tools used in projects provides valuable insight on the popularity of languages, and which ones are trending. Of course, Github doesn’t cover all the software projects in the world. For instance, large corporations and public administration may use other systems to manage their projects.

Top 10 most used languages at Github:

  1. Javascript
  2. Python
  3. Java
  4. PHP
  5. C#
  6. C++
  7. Typescript
  8. Shell
  9. C
  10. Ruby
github programming languages statistics
Source: Github Octoverse report.

The graph shows how steady the popularity of major languages is. Only Ruby’s dramatic fall and Typescript’s rapid rise have reshuffled the popularity ranking a bit during the last six years.

New programming languages are continuously introduced as well. Only a few will survive, but some of them are growing fast. Here is the top 10 of fastest growing programming languages at Github.

  1. Dart
  2. Rust
  3. HCL
  4. Kotlin
  5. Typescript
  6. Powershell
  7. Apex
  8. Python
  9. Assembly
  10. Go

The software quality company Tiobe published its latest index of programming language popularity in December 2019. Tiobe’s method for measuring the popularity of languages differs from Github, which is why the results are slightly different as well. Top 10 most popular programming languages according to Tiobe are:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. Python
  4. C++
  5. C#
  6. VisualBasic.NET
  7. Javascript
  8. PHP
  9. SQL
  10. Swift

Tiobe ranks languages based on the number of engineers who have listed the languages they know, courses available, and search results produced by major search engines.

What explains the continuing popularity of top 5 languages? A major factor is popular software packages, like WordPress, Drupal and Nextcloud. A vast number of programmers are working for projects where the core software is being customized for a specific purpose. In many cases, mastering a number of top 5 languages is required in a project like this.

Header photo by Andrew Mager.

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