The Most Popular Web Programming Langues

by Andy Crofford on November 15th, 2010 15 comments
Web Programming

The most popular programming language today is Java, followed closely by C, and then C++, PHP, JavaScript, Python, C#, Perl, SQL, and Ruby. This is a statistic based on large amount of data, which takes into account the job trends, total number of projects, books sold, Web searches, open source projects, discussion sites, and other criteria. However, not all of the above-mentioned are web-programming languages as some of them are mostly used to develop desktop software rather than web applications.

The programming languages that account for the vast majority of the interactive, server-side web applications today are PHP, Java, Ruby on Rails, Perl, ASP, CGI, and Python. According to dice.com, the demand for these languages, in terms or jobs offered, is 16,479 for Java, 5,710 for Perl, 2,641 for PHP, 1,480 for Python, and 769 for Ruby. Other sources cite PHP as the dominating web developing language, but the quarterly statistics for 2010 show that the number of PHP developers is far greater compared to the number of Java and .Net developers and the projects typically smaller, which drives the price per job for a PHP project down. In this article, we will take a brief look at the most popular web programming languages and their advantages and disadvantages:

PHP

PHP is an open source scripting language, which is widely used for developing dynamic web pages. Amongst its various advantages are:

  • Free: the language is distributed under the Open Source License, which allows the users to download and use the language for free
  • Easy to learn: PHP is extremely easy to learn as it has simple and clear syntax
  • Compatibility: it can run on various platforms and used on Linux, Windows, or Mac servers
  • Interfaces well with MySQL: many web applications are database driven and MySQL is one of the most popular relational database query languages
  • Popular: its tremendous popularity translates into wide availability of source code, great number of discussion groups, tutorials, and documentation

Amongst the disadvantages of the PHP are the facts that it is not a “true” object oriented programming language and since it is a scripting language, it cannot perform as quickly as C++ or C. Another disadvantage is the fact that there are some security issues, associated with PHP programming.

Perl

Perl is a general purpose, dynamic programming language, developed in 1987. Considered one of the original scripting languages, it has numerous advantages, some of which are listed below:

  • Portability: Perl runs on all platforms and distributions are available for all popular operating systems
  • Easier to learn compared to Java or C
  • Comes with excellent string manipulation operators and works with regular expressions
  • It is Object Oriented and has a great set of libraries, which allows developers to build larger applications

Some of the disadvantages of Perl are the fact that the code is often hard to read, debug, and maintain, and the language is very forgiving, which means that there are far fewer rules for laying out the programs.

Java

Java is an Object Oriented programming language, which was developed by Sun Microsystems (currently a subsidiary of Oracle). The Java Servlet API is the technology that allows the programmers to develop scalable and robust server-side applications and this language comes with a great number of advantages:

  • Portability: the Java programs are “write once, run anywhere”
  • Powerful: the Java Servlets talk directly to the Web server and are far more powerful that the CGI applications
  • Safety: the Java Servlets are extremely secure
  • Java is a true Object Oriented programming language and suitable for building robust and large scale web applications
  • Java is ideal for developing multithreaded and distributed computing applications

Java is not an easy language to learn and not ideal for small and simple web applications.

Python

Python is an interpreter, Object Oriented, and extensible scripting language, which was conceptualized in the late 80s of the last century as an improvement and continuation of the ABC programming language. Python 2.0 was released in October 2000 and Python 3.0 in December 2008, and both of them introduced various improvements, mainly in the developing process itself. Some of the strong points of Python are:

  • It is easy to learn as it has simple syntax (using tabbing and spacing)
  • Free since it is released under the OSI-approved open source license
  • It is extendable since it supports classes
  • Has a great standard library and flexible module system
  • Solid community, which translates into fast support and great number of source code available

The main disadvantage of Python stems from the fact that it is an interpreted language, which results in sometime slower execution, especially when memory-intense and computational operations are involved.

Ruby

Ruby is a general-purpose Object Oriented programming language, which was developed in Japan in the 1990s and influenced by numerous other languages such as Perl, Pike, Lisp, and others. Its popularity increased after the release of the Ruby on Rails web application framework, which facilitates rapid application development. Some of the advantages of Ruby are:

  • It allows for rapid application development
  • Has a clear and forgiving syntax
  • Unparalleled productivity
  • Extensive standard library
  • Portability

Some of the disadvantages of Ruby are the lack of complete online documentation and slower execution speeds compared to some of the other programming languages such as C++, PHP, and Perl.

With the expansion of the Internet, the increasing number of mobile operating systems and the applications developed for them, and the further interlinking between computers and multimedia, the programming languages are expected to evolve and improve. If you are contemplating a career as a web programmer, then choosing which language to learn should be based on its popularity, advantages, difficulty, and your personal preferences. The languages, listed in this article come with their strong and weak points, but if you master one or more of them, apply yourself, and persevere, you are likely to be well compensated for your efforts. According to indeed.com, the median salary for a web programmer in the US is $59,000, but apart from the mastered programming languages, formal education and experience are always taken into account by the employers, and senior web programmers can earn up to $100,000 per year.

We know our readers are going to have opinions on web programming. What is your favorite and what resources would you recommend someone use to learn that language? As always, please share in the comments.