Computer Science Basics: Types of Coding Languages

Discover the best coding language to learn for a variety of applications. Choose the right coding languages to launch your programming career.

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by Meg Whitenton

Updated April 22, 2022

Reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

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Computer Science Basics: Types of Coding Languages

Programmers routinely use hundreds of coding languages for a wide variety of applications. Web and software developers use popular programming languages like JavaScript, C#, and Python as full-stack development tools. Additionally, fields including electronics, social media marketing, automotive engineering, and healthcare also rely on computer code.

Computer science programs emphasize strong coding skills. Most programmers focus on a variety of languages and specialize in using code for a particular type of project, such as gaming, cloud-based platforms, or e-commerce. The following guide explores your options.

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What Are Coding Languages?

Coding languages enable computers to understand human-generated instructions for various commands and computations. Writing code allows humans to translate information into a language computerized machines can process. Coding languages are essential for building websites, developing mobile apps, and running cloud-computing services.

There are hundreds of coding languages in existence today. Programmers tend to favor certain languages for their adaptability and ease of use for a particular kind of project. For example, JavaScript is favored by beginners and for broad web development applications, while C# is popular among game programmers and Python is ideal for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

What Are Coding Languages Used For?

Computer code is a universal language used for connecting computers and cloud systems. Coding is required for computers to communicate within their own networks and operate on the largest communal network of all, the internet.

A computer must take several steps to understand and execute a command from code. A computer's compiler tool converts the code written by a computer programmer into binary code, then the linker tool attaches it to the rest of the coding sequence. Finally, the computer can open and run the file to execute the command.

Some like-minded languages can work together. For example, some low-level and high-level languages are respectively interoperable. During the compiler phase of the code translation, some elements of one type of code may merge with another, in some cases, making both readable to the computer.

What Are the Types of Programming Languages?

Programming languages serve different specific purposes and are classified accordingly. Languages may be used for a specific part of the translation process, such as machine, assembly, and high-level. All programming languages fall into one of two broad categories: high-level or low-level.

High-level Coding Languages

High-level coding languages are the furthest away from the actual code that translates commands on a computer system. Examples include C++, Java, and Python.

Low-level Coding Languages

Low-level coding languages contain basic instructions for a computer to understand. It involves little-to-no abstraction from the core coding process. Examples are assembly and machine code.

Coding Language Paradigms

Coding languages also comprise a variety of styles. Common styles are imperative, functional, logical, and object-oriented languages. Programmers can choose from these coding language paradigms to best-serve their needs for a specific project. Each involves its own benefits and limitations. The following are examples of each paradigm.

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How Do I Choose a Coding Language?

Programmers should consider what initially attracted them to coding and what type of coding projects they prefer. Students drawn to front-end programming tend to learn a user-facing code like JavaScript, while those more interested in back-end coding may learn Python or Ruby first.

Grouping coding languages by where they are used in the stack is just one method of organization. Professionals may also choose a language based on its lineage from other legacy languages. JavaScript, Ruby, and Python are widely popular among beginners since they are easy to learn and provide a solid foundation in coding, with the potential to branch out.

Front-End Web Development Coding Languages

Front-end development is the "client side" of web development, responsible for the user-interactive parts of a website. Everything a user experiences is dictated by front-end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Front-end developers focus on optimizing performance and responsiveness. All aspects of user-facing content, including its design, structure, and behavior, reflects front-end developers.

HTML

HTML's name explains its primary function: hypertext markup language. HTML combines hypertext (the link between web pages) and markup language (the textual structure of the web pages). HTML code uses markup language to design the front end.

CSS

Cascading style sheets, or CSS, simplifies the process of optimizing and presenting multiple web pages. Programmers can use CSS to style a series of pages at once, independent of a page's respective HTML code.

JavaScript

JavaScript is widely regarded as perhaps the most adaptable front-end programming language, proving especially popular among sites that require enhanced user-interactivity. Programmers prefer JavaScript for a variety of applications, including sites with search functions, games, and web-based software.

Back-End Web Development Coding Languages

Front-end and back-end development must work in tandem for a site or app to function. Users never come in contact with back-end operations; however, languages like Java, Python, and Ruby are critical in ensuring all functions and activities run seamlessly.

Back-end developers may write code used for tasks like scripting application programming interfaces (APIs), building libraries, and merging site elements with no connecting interface.

Java

Java is among the most widely available and popular back-end coding languages. Java can be used with a variety of frameworks and features components that are easily accessible to all programmers. Java is compatible with front-end languages like CSS, JavaScript, and HTML.

Python

Python enables programmers to quickly code back-end applications and optimize their efficiency. Python is popular for its simplicity, accessibility, and tendency toward natural language. Programmers may choose this language for its compatibility with the Django framework.

Ruby

Ruby and its compatible framework, Rails, are still popular among programmers developing e-commerce, social media, and stock marketing platforms. Ruby on Rails is an adaptable and versatile coding language, favored by beginners as particularly easy to learn. Ruby is also compatible with other languages like C or Java.

Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Coding Languages

How many types of coding languages are there?

There are hundreds of coding languages in existence today. While the names of the coding paradigms sometimes vary, most experts agree on four primary types of code: imperative, functional, logical, and object-oriented. Alternative names and other primary types may include procedural, scripting, and database programming. Within these classifications, programmers commonly use front- and back-end languages like JavaScript, Python, C, and Ruby.

Does coding need math?

Yes, but not always. Some codes require math, namely algebra, to develop the algorithms needed to run properly. However, many codes include a built-in function that automatically writes and runs an algorithm or equation. Coders may require more or less math depending on the type of projects they prefer. For example, game and graphics programmers may require more advanced skills in linear Algebra than other applications. While an understanding of algebra and algorithms is helpful to aspiring programmers, it is not necessary to learn to code.

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