Computer Science Basics: Types of Coding Languages

Learn about the basics of coding languages and their uses. Get started on your coding journey today.
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Portions of the following article were drafted using an in-house natural language generation platform. The article was then reviewed, fact-checked, and edited by multiple members of our editorial team prior to publishing.

  • In 2020, the most popular coding languages were JavaScript, HTML, SQL, Python, and Java.
  • For beginners, JavaScript, Python, HTML, CSS, and Java are among the easiest and most in-demand languages to learn.
  • Essential skills for coding include understanding computer architecture, data basics, command-line basics, and proficient text editor skills.

Are you interested in the world of coding and computer science? Understanding the different coding languages is an essential first step in your journey. This guide explores popular coding languages, their uses in tech companies, how easy they are to learn, and the basic skills required for coding.

Whether you're a true beginner or already know some code, this guide can help you understand the coding languages out there.

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What Are the Most Popular Coding Languages?

According to Stack Overflow's 2020 Developer Survey, the most popular coding languages are JavaScript, HTML/CSS, SQL, Python, and Java:

  • JavaScript is widely used in web development, game development, and coding mobile apps and web servers.
  • HTML and CSS are essential for website development and maintenance: HTML is used to structure webpages, and CSS is used in website design.
  • SQL stands for Structured Query Language, and it's used to access and manipulate databases.
  • Python is a versatile language used in back-end development, data science, web development, and app development.
  • Java is popular among coders working in e-commerce, finance, and app development, prized for its security and ability to handle large amounts of data.

What Are the Most Common Coding Languages Used in Tech Companies?

The most popular coding languages overall are also commonly used in tech companies. In addition, these organizations use Ruby and PHP:

  • Ruby is valued for its simplicity. It was designed using straightforward syntax that is both easy to read and write, making maintaining and updating code simpler for developers. A feature of Ruby called "Rails" further allows developers to build applications quickly. Ruby has a vast network of resources available through its community of users.
  • PHP is a popular server-side scripting language that is also known for its simplicity. Its straightforward syntax makes it easy to use and a great starting point for beginners. It also has a high degree of flexibility, which allows it to be easily integrated with various database management systems and operates on all major operating systems. PHP is also free to use since it is an open-source language, adding to its appeal for businesses.

What Are the Easiest Coding Languages to Learn?

The most popular coding languages are also among the easiest to learn:

  • JavaScript is highly sought after and can be used almost immediately with no prior coding knowledge.
  • Python is known for its extensive library and interactive qualities that allow code testing on the go.
  • HTML and CSS are very accessible. Learning these languages serves as a fundamental stepping stone into web development.
  • Java's "write-once, run-anywhere" nature, coupled with its ease of use and security features, makes it a practical choice for various industries.

What Basic Knowledge Is Required for Coding?

Anyone can learn to code, and there is no one entry point to programming. However, those interested in learning to code can benefit from basic math, computer, and logical reasoning skills.

If you're completely new to the world of coding, you may want to begin by familiarizing yourself with command-line basics and how to use a text editor. Next, consider playing around with a simple, accessible language like HTML. This way, you can acquaint yourself with basic coding conventions.

From there, you may want to focus your time on a more advanced language like Python, JavaScript, or Java, a language often used in larger-scale enterprise applications.

How Can A Beginner Start Learning How to Code?

For beginners, the key is to start small, be patient, and enjoy the process of learning. Coding is not only about understanding syntax but also about problem-solving and thinking logically. With time and practice, you can find yourself getting proficient in coding in no time.

  1. Understand your motivations for learning to code; this can help guide and shape your learning path. Set up your environment with the right tools and software, including a computer, a text editor, and a code editor like Visual Studio Code.
  2. Pick a programming language to learn first — Python and JavaScript are popular choices for beginners. You can either learn on your own with the use of online guides and videos or enroll in a coding bootcamp or virtual course if you would benefit from more guidance.
  3. Coding is a skill that improves with practice, so practice regularly. You can start with simple exercises and eventually move on to more complex projects. Websites like HackerRank, LeetCode, and CodeSignal cater to all skill levels.
  4. For additional support, motivation, and guidance, join a coding community. Learning to code can sometimes feel isolating, but it doesn't have to be. Platforms like GitHub, Stack Overflow, and Reddit have dedicated programming communities that can answer your questions.
  5. Applying what you've learned in real-world projects is a crucial step. Start with small projects that interest you and gradually increase the complexity. This could be anything from building a personal website, a simple game, or a data analysis project. Working on projects not only reinforces what you learned but also builds your portfolio.
  6. Learn from others by taking the time to examine and understand other people's code, and keep yourself up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry. Follow technology news, participate in coding forums, and experiment with new coding languages and technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coding Languages

What is the hardest coding language?

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There is no one hardest coding language. A language's difficulty depends on an individual's prior experience and learning style. That being said, languages like C++, Assembly, and Haskell are often considered challenging due to their complex syntax and concepts.

Which programming language is most in demand?

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According to Stack Overflow, JavaScript was the most popular coding language among professional developers in 2020. Python is another popular language and is useful for professionals in fields like data science, AI, machine learning, cybersecurity, and DevOps engineering.

What is the best beginner coding language?

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While there is no single best programming language for beginners, Python and JavaScript are good coding languages to learn first. Python is known for its simplicity and readability, making it an excellent choice for those new to coding. JavaScript is essential for web development, and it's supported by all modern web browsers.

Should I learn Java or Python?

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If you're just beginning to learn how to code, you might want to start by learning Python because it is generally simpler and more concise than Java, which can make the learning process faster. If you're interested in areas like web development, big data, cloud development, and Android app development, Java might be a better option due to its widespread use in these domains. Ultimately, the choice depends on your interests and the kind of projects you aspire to work on.

Can I teach myself to code?

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Yes, you can absolutely teach yourself to code. With the right resources, discipline, and time management, you can effectively learn coding on your own. Online coding schools, courses, YouTube channels, and bootcamps offer structured learning paths and hands-on projects that can help you build a solid foundation in coding. Self-learning can be a great fit for those who want the ability to study at their own pace and on their own schedule.

Note: The insights on this page were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by BestColleges. Page last reviewed February 26, 2024. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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