What are Computer Programming Languages?

Computer programming languages allow us to give instructions to a computer in a language the computer
understands. Just as many human-based languages exist, there are an array of computer programming
languages that programmers can use to communicate with a computer. The portion of the language that a
computer can understand is called a “binary.” Translating programming language into binary
is known as “compiling.” Each language, from C Language to Python, has its own distinct
features, though many times there are commonalities between programming languages.

These languages allow computers to quickly and efficiently process large and complex swaths of
information. For example, if a person is given a list of randomized numbers ranging from one to ten
thousand and is asked to place them in ascending order, chances are that it will take a sizable amount
of time and include some errors.

There are dozens of programming languages used in the industry today. We’ve compiled overviews
of the 12 most important, relevant and in-demand of these languages below.

Python

Python_small

Python is an advanced programming language that is interpreted, object-oriented and built on flexible
and robust semantics.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries: 

    • Python developers, software engineers, back end developers, Python programmers
    • Used by employers in information technology, engineering, professional services and design
  • Major Organizations: Google, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, DropBox, NASA, ESRI
  • Specializations and Industries: Web and Internet development (frameworks, micro-frameworks
    and advanced content management systems); scientific and numeric computing; desktop graphical user
    interfaces (GUIs)

What makes learning it important?

Python lets you work quickly to integrate systems as a scripting or glue language. It’s also suited
for Rapid Application Develop (RAD).

  • The game Civilization 4 has all its inner logic, including AI, implemented in Python.
  • NASA uses Python in its Integrated Planning System as a standard scripting language.
  • Features:
    • Simple to learn and easily read
    • Associated web frameworks for developing web-based applications
    • Free interpreter and standard library available in source or binary on major platforms

Where did it start?

Python was developed in the late 1980s at CWI in the Netherlands and first released to the public in
1991.

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Java

Java_logo_small

Java is a general-purpose, object-oriented, high-level programming language with several features
that make it ideal for web-based development.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • Software engineers, Java developers
    • Used by employers in communications, education, finance, health sciences, hospitality, retail
      and utilities
  • Major Organizations: V2COM, Eclipse Information Technologies, eBay, Eurotech
  • Specializations and Industries: Internet of Things (IoT), Enterprise Architecture, Cloud
    Computing

 

What makes learning it important?

Java is used to develop enterprise-level applications for video games and mobile apps, as well as to
create web-based applications with JSP (Java Server Pages). When used online, Java allows applets to
be downloaded and used through a browser, which can then perform a function not normally available.

  • Programs that use or are written in Java include Adobe Creative Suite, Eclipse, Lotus Notes,
    Minecraft and OpenOffice.
  • Java is the core foundation for developing Android apps.
  • Features:
    • Application portability
    • Robust and interpreted language
    • Extensive network library

Where did it start?

Originally known as Oak, Java was developed in 1990 at Sun Microsystems to add capabilities to the
C++ language. Java was developed according to the principle of WORA (Write Once Run Anywhere). The
language was introduced to the public in 1995 and is now owned by Oracle.

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Ruby/Ruby on Rails

ruby-logo

Ruby is an open-sourced, object-oriented scripting language that can be used independently or as part
of the Ruby on Rails web framework.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • Ruby on Rails developers, software engineers, data science engineers
    • Used by employers in technology, engineering, professional services, design, science and
      quality control
  • Major Organizations: Github, Scribd, Groupon, NASA Langley Research Center, Blue Sequence
    (part of Toyota Motor Manufacturing), Motorola, Google (SketchUp)
  • Specializations and Industries: Web App Development, Robotics, Networking, System
    Administration and Security

What makes learning it important?

Ruby is used for simulations, 3D modeling, and to manage and track information.

  • Basecamp, Amazon, Twitter and Groupon were all created using Ruby on Rails.
  • NASA uses Ruby to conduct simulations.
  • Features:
    • Free to use, copy, modify and distribute
    • Intuitive and flexible language
    • Completely object-oriented (ability to use method chaining)

Where did it start?

Designed in 1995, Ruby’s creator described it as “simple in appearance, but it is very complex
inside, just like our human body.”

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HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

HTML5_logo

HTML is the standard markup language used to create web pages; it ensures proper formatting of text
and images (using tags) so that Internet browsers can display them in the ways they were intended to
look.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • Web developers, technical editors, email designers, software engineers
    • Used by employers in Information Technology, Engineering, Design, Professional Services,
      Management, Marketing, Customer Services and Sales
  • Major Organizations: Apple, CyberCoders, Apex Systems, CareerBuilder
  • Specializations and Industries Where HTML is Used Most: Web Development, Email Programming

What makes learning it important?

HTML is used to create electronic documents (pages) displayed online. Visit any page and you will see
an example of HTML in action.

  • The diversity and complexity in the structure and appearance of today’s sites is made possible
    with HTML.
  • Features:
    • Easy to use and learn the basics of HTML
    • Free and accessible
    • Multiple versions available

Where did it start?

HTML was created by physicist Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 to allow scientists to share documents online.
Before then, all communication was sent using plain text. HTML made “rich” text possible
(i.e. text formatting and visual images).

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JavaScript

js_logo

JavaScript is a client-side programming language that runs inside a client browser and processes
commands on a computer rather than a server. It is commonly placed into an HTML or ASP file. Despite
its name, JavaScript is not related to Java.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • JavaScript developers, Web developers, software engineers
    • Used by employers in Information Technology, Engineering, Design, Marketing, Finance and
      Healthcare
  • Major Organizations: WordPress, Soundcloud, Khan Academy, Linkedin, Groupon, Yahoo and many
    others
  • Specializations and Industries Where JavaScript is Used Most: Front End Website
    Development, Gaming Development

What makes learning it important?

JavaScript is used primarily in Web development to manipulate various page elements and make them
more dynamic, including scrolling abilities, printing the time and date, creating a calendar and other
tasks not possible through plain HTML. It can also be used to create games and APIs.

  • The agency Cyber-Duck in Britain uses public APIs, created with JavaScript, to pull in data about
    crime and enables users to review a local area.
  • Tweetmap, created by Pete Smart and Rob Hawkes using JavaScript, represents a world map that is
    proportionally sized according to the number of tweets.
  • Features:
    • Basic features are easy to learn
    • Multiple frameworks
    • Users can reference JQuery, a comprehensive Javascript library

Where did it start?

JavaScript was designed by Netscape and originally known as LiveScript, before becoming JavaScript in
1995.

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C Language

The_C_Programming_Language_logo.svg

C Language is a structure-oriented, middle-level programming language mostly used to develop
low-level applications.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • Software developers, computer engineers, business and systems analysts, IT and Web content
      administrators, embedded software engineers
    • Used by employers in Information Technology, Engineering, Management, Healthcare and
      Professional Services
  • Major Organizations: Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Cisco, Raytheon
  • Specializations and Industries Where C Language is Used Most: Embedded Systems, Systems
    Programming, Artificial Intelligence, Industrial Automation, Computer Graphics, Space Research,
    Image Processing and Game Programming

What makes learning it important?

C Language is used to develop systems applications that are integrated into operating systems such as
Windows, UNIX and Linux, as well as embedded softwares. Applications include graphics packages, word
processors, spreadsheets, operating system development, database systems, compilers and assemblers,
network drivers and interpreters.

  • Facebook’s TAO systems is programmed mostly using C language.
  • Most device drivers are still developed using C Language.
  • Features:
    • Simple to learn; there are only 32 keywords to master
    • Easy to write systems programs such as compilers and interpreters
    • Foundational language for beginners

Where did it start?

The C Language was developed in 1972 at Bell Labs specifically for implementing the UNIX system. It
eventually gave rise to many advanced programming languages, including C++, Java C#, JavaScript and
Pearl.

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C++

cplusplus

C++ is a general purpose, object-oriented, middle-level programming language and is an extension of C
language, which makes it possible to code C++ in a “C style”. In some situations, coding can be done
in either format, making C++ an example of a hybrid language.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • C++ software engineers, C++ software developers, embedded engineers, programmer analysts
    • Used by employers in Information Technology, Engineering, Professional Services, Design,
      Quality Control and Management
  • Major Company and Organization Users: Google, Mozilla, Firefox, Winamp, Adobe Software,
    Amazon, Lockheed Martin
  • Specializations: System/Application Software, Drivers, Client-Server Applications, Embedded
    Firmware

What makes learning it important?

The C++ language is used to create computer programs and packaged software, such as games, office
applications, graphics and video editors and operating systems.

  • The Blackberry OS is developed using C++.
  • The newest Microsoft Office suite was developed using C++.
  • Features:
    • Often the first programming language taught at college level
    • Quick processing and compilation mechanism
    • Robust standard library (STL)

Where did it start?

Released in 1983 and often considered an object-oriented version of C language, C++ was created to
compile lean, efficient code, while providing high-level abstractions to better manage large
development projects.

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C#

csharp

Pronounced C-sharp (not C-hashtag), C# is a multi-paradigm programming language that features strong
typing, imperative, declarative, functional, generic, object-oriented and component-oriented
disciplines.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • C# developers, automation test engineers, software engineers, senior .net Web developers
    • Used by employers in Information Technology, Engineering, Design, Professional Services,
      Management and Quality Control
  • Major Organizations: Microsoft Intel, Hewlett Packard
  • Specializations: Windows-based platforms

What makes learning it important?

C# helps developers create XML web services and Microsoft .NET-connected applications for Windows
operating systems and the internet.

  • Used to develop a wide range of software applications that accompany Visual Studio IDE.
  • The only language used by the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).
  • Features:
    • Similar to Java in capabilities
    • Ideal for beginners
    • The go-to for working on Microsoft apps

Where did it start?

C# was developed in 2000 as part of Microsoft’s release of .NET framework; in 2003 it became an ISO
standard. C# was based off of C, C++, and Java languages.

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Objective-C

iOS_Objective_C

Objective-C is a simple, general-purpose and object-oriented language. It uses a system of message
passing borrowed from the language Smalltalk; when an object in Objective-C is sent a message, it can
choose to ignore or forward to another object, rather than return a value.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • IT and Web content administrators, iOS and Android mobile developers, software engineers
    • Used by employers in Information Technology, Engineering, Management, Healthcare and Design
  • Major Organizations: Apple, CyberCoders
  • Specializations: Software development

What makes learning it important?

Objective-C is primarily used by developers to create apps for iOS and OS X.

  • From everything to Twitter and Facebook to Wells Fargo and Mint, objective-C is the most commonly
    used language to write programs for apple products.
  • Features
    • Increased flexibility with dynamic typing
    • Often used alongside a framework such as Cocoa or Cocoa Touch
    • Great first language for beginning programmers

Where did it start?

Objective-C was developed at Apple in 1983 to address deficiencies (specifically lack of
object-orientation) in C language. It was licensed by NeXT in 1988.

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PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor)

PHP_logo

PHP is an open-source scripting language designed for creating dynamic web pages that effectively
work with databases. It is also used as a general-purpose programming language.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • PHP developers, PHP software engineers
    • Used across industries, to include Information Technology, Engineering, Design, Professional
      Services, Healthcare, Management and Finance
  • Major Organizations: Facebook, Yahoo, CyberCoders, NextGen
  • Specializations Where PHP is Used Most: Web Application Development, Server-Side Scripting,
    Command Line Scripting

What makes learning it important?

PHP is primarily used alongside dynamic data-heavy websites to collect form data. It’s also
used in app development to generate dynamic page content.

  • PHP is part of the LAMP platform used by Facebook and Yahoo.
  • Platforms such as Joomla, WordPress and Drupal use the PHP language.
  • Features:
    • Easy to learn (as simple as embedding code inside HTML)
    • Free and opensource
    • Can be used on all major operating systems and web servers

Where did it start?

PHP was released in 1995 as a server-side scripting language, which is processed on a server to
become a website in plain HTML.

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SQL (Structured Query Language)

SQL

SQL is a database query language (not a development language) that allows for adding, accessing and
managing content in a database. It is the language that allows programmers to perform the common
acronym CRUD (Create; Read; Update; Delete) within a database.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • SQL server developers, database testers, software developers, database administrators
    • Used across industries like Information Technology, Engineering, Design, Management,
      Professional Servers, Business and Finance
  • Major Organizations: SQL is used by most companies and organizations that gather data.
    Examples include Robert Half Technology, Nigel Frank, CyberCoders and UnitedHealthCare.
  • Specializations Where SQL is Used Most: Data Analysis and Big Data Mining

What makes learning it important?

SQL interacts with the backend database of web application. It is the “de facto standard”
database language, always used in conjunction with another programming language. SQL programs are
implemented as a way for businesses and organizations to access and manipulate information stored in
their databases.

  • Relational database management systems that use SQL include MySQL (by Oracle), Sybase, Microsoft
    SQL Server and others.
  • Features:
    • Simple syntax
    • Free and easily accessible

Where did it start?

SQL was developed at the IBM Research Center in 1974 and originally known as SEQUEL. The first
commercial version was introduced in 1979 by ORACLE.

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Swift

Swift_logo.svg

Swift is Apple’s newest open-source, multi-paradigm programming language for iOS and OS X apps. Swift
integrates Objective-C’s named parameters and object-oriented model, while including an advanced
compiler, debugger and framework infrastructure.

Who uses it?

  • Professions and Industries:

    • Swift Platform Developers, iOS Mobile Application Developers, Software Developers, Senior
      Programmers, Data Engineers
    • Information Technology, Engineering, Design, Management and Professional Services
  • Major Organizations: Apple, Getty Images, Slack, Dow Jones, Playlist Media
  • Specializations Where Swift is Used Most: Software development

What makes learning it important?

Swift is primarily used by developers to create apps for iOS and OS X.

  • Dow Jones is rewriting sections of its mobile Wall Street Journal app using Swift.
  • Getty Images built its consumer-facing app, Stream, using Swift.
  • Features:
    • Supports ‘playgrounds,’ a feature that lets programmers experiment and see immediate results
    • Easy to understand syntax
    • Ideal for writing production-ready code

Where did it start?

Swift, which is based off of the Objective-C programming language, was introduced at Apple’s 2014
Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The newest version, Swift 2, was released as an open-source
language in 2015.

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