A career in web development is lucrative, exciting and ever changing. It requires a particular set of well-honed skills and a knowledge of languages that you’ll need to keep updating, year after year. In return, you’ll get to build really cool web stuff every day and you’ll get a hefty pay cheque at the end of every month. Not bad, right?
In recent years as the web has continued to evolve, a few different streams of web development have emerged. Front end web development (also known as client side web development) deals with the part of the web that the user interacts with – the part that pretty much everyone who uses the internet is familiar with. Back end web development (or server side web development) deals with all those things that run in the background to make websites or web apps work, like databases and scripts. Then there are full stack web developers, who can do all of the above.
Regardless of which path you choose to go down, you’ll still need to understand each side in order to do your job properly. So here are the 10 best programming languages for web development, both client and server side.
Developed in the 1990s and still the most in demand language, Java is the gold standard in web development all over the world, in every area. It’s object oriented, class based and works on any platform, making it extremely versatile. If you want to make your safe employable to pretty much every tech company in the world, this is the way to go. Fun fact: Java was originally intended for interactive television, but its creators soon realised it was too far ahead of its time for that particular industry. The rest is history.
A new kid on the block compared to some other languages in this list, Python is extremely easy to learn and is a dynamic, all-purpose language. Although more popular as a back end language, it can do pretty much anything you want it to. Designed with the goal of being readable, simple, and most of all fun, this is a new favourite of developers in all areas of the industry and is the number one ‘beginner’ language to learn. It’s flexible and extremely powerful, and has a very bright future.
CSS / HTML
General purpose, well compiled and around since 1979, C++ is an object oriented, very technical language. Extremely powerful and with extensive libraries, this is one of the cornerstone languages of back end development. Especially useful for high performance programs and template-heavy programs, this stalwart isn’t going anywhere just yet. If you already know C (or if you’ve learned C++ and want to turn your hand to C), you’re already part of the way there.
PHP is an HTML-embedded scripting language used to form dynamic web pages, fast. A great choice for both front and back end developers to add to their arsenal (but especially the latter), it’s behind such web giants as WordPress and Facebook. PHP makes it quick and easy to expand web apps and run websites that have repeated server tasks (like refreshing news feeds). It’s open source and is very popular among startup business, media agencies and e-commerce – the kind of people who often hire new-ish web developers.
Like C++, C is and old school language, easily compiled, and general purpose. It’s the most widely used programming platform that offers building elements for other languages like C++, Python and Java. In fact, many of these languages are based on C. A great option for full stack developers and those who want to add a new dimension to their skill set (or a metaphorical power drill to their programming tool box). It’s best used for writing system software and applications, so is also a handy language for back end developers to get used to.
For full stack and server side developers, SQL (Structured Query Language) is the cherry on the cake of your developing toolkit. A vital part of web development, SQL makes obtaining specific data from large, complex databases a breeze. SQL is in high demand among big companies like Microsoft, so this is a clever choice for any developer with high ambitions and a must if you work with databases on the regular.
Scalable, simple and super fast, Ruby and Ruby on Rails is a dream team duo that offers a full stack language and framework to build full programs and web apps, fast. It’s a favourite among entrepreneurs and start ups, and has a wide selection of third-party ‘gems’ (add-ons) that can make it do pretty much whatever you need it to. Twitter and Basecamp use Ruby, so it has to be good, right? As one of the most valued and desirable skills out there, there’s no harm in learning this one.
Go is Google’s dedicated programming language. A newcomer to the scene, it boasts excellent integration, good readability and ease of use, and solves a lot of problems that other languages can’t. As new languages go, this one is very promising. Plus, we all know Google is King of the Web right now, so it pays to have a Google-specific language under your belt for creating web apps.
Want to learn more? You can find in-depth courses on all of the above right here!