Programming Languages: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly (I)

Dominik Keller
Aug 19th, 2021
Blog

There’s a plethora of programming languages, and for anyone new to coding, the sheer number of programming languages can be quite overwhelming. Rust, Go, C, SQL, Java, JavaScript, HTML…these are just a few examples, and the list goes on and on and on. To give you an idea for the numbers: the world’s first programming language was developed in the 1940s. Since then, more than 700 programming languages have been created, even though only a few remain in use. So let’s break them down into three categories: the good, the bad & the ugly.

What makes a good programming language? Ask three developers, and you will get five different answers. So, let’s keep it simple and take a closer look at the “good” first. We will go by popularity: which programming languages are most commonly used by developers?

 

The Good

In their 2020 Developer Survey, StackOverflow asked more than 65,000 developers what the most commonly used programming languages are. Here are the results:

  1. JavaScript
  2. HTML/CSS
  3. SQL

JavaScript has consistently come out on top since Stack Overflow started doing their annual survey. Some popular websites that use JavaScript are Google, Facebook and Wikipedia. In fact, by some estimates 95% of all websites use JavaScript, making it the standard programming language of the web.

HTML/CSS are cornerstone technologies of the web too. CSS is a style sheet language that describes the presentation of a document or website written in HTML. Colours, fonts, margins – anything that meets the eye can be defined in CSS. Usually HTML, CSS and JavaScript all go hand-in-hand. CSS defines a web page’s appearance or presentation, JavaScript its functionality and behaviour. And HTML defines the meaning and structure of web content.

The third most commonly used programming language is SQL or Structured Query Language. SQL is an all time favourite. It made its first appearance in 1974, and thus predates the internet by a few decades. It is easy to learn and lets you interact with a database. For example, say you create a web application on top of a MySQL database. In order to write queries, you would need to use SQL. Relational databases are extremely popular ways of storing data. Based on a survey by Kaggle, an online community of data scientists, SQL databases are the most commonly used databases by data scientists. Large websites like Uber, Airbnb or Netflix also use MySQL, an open source version of a relational database, as part of their tech stack.

 

The Bad & The Ugly

Curious to find out what the bad & the ugly are? Watch this space to find out.

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