Code is what makes the digital world tick. It’s what constitutes an app, computer program, or a website. In a nutshell, it is the way people can write instructions to a computer and have that computer understand the message. While all digital programs require code to function, they each use a separate type of code, which is called coding language. Each language has different attributes that make it more suitable for a specific application. If you’re interested in becoming a web developer, you’d want to check out Ruby, Python, or C#. If you wanted to become a game developer you may want to learn Java, C or C++. Today, we’re checking out eight coding languages you ought to know!
C language is a general-purpose, programming language that was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie (ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie’s brother!) to develop the UNIX operating system at Bell Labs in 1972. It has become a widely-used professional language because it is easy to learn, is very structured, can handle low-level activities, and can be used on a variety of computer platforms. Because C language is the ancestor to many coding languages today, C is often the first programming course offered in universities.
While the C language performed very well, it lacked object orientation programming, which is a type of coding model that organizes around objects rather than “actions” and uses data rather than logic. This type of thinking takes the view that we want to see the objects we’re manipulating rather than the logic required to manipulate them. The C++ language, developed in 1983, sought to address this issue. Today, C++ is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world and was the language of choice for developing Google Chrome, Firefox, and the complete suite of Adobe Software. Advanced games and operating systems like windows have been developed in C++ because the language is fast and efficient. Programmers who know C++ are in high demand across the job market, which makes this a very good language to learn if you’re interested in pursuing a career in computer science!
Created by Sun Microsystems in 1995, Java is a programming language that has lots of applications. It was the first purely object-oriented programming language and is very forgiving to programmers who might make an error (unlike C++). Java was designed to have the look of C++ but was a simplified version of the language. It’s a fairly versatile language that can be used for a wide variety of applications, and is relatively easy to learn, especially for anyone who knows about the C language. Not only that, but the language and the tools needed to run Java applications are free! You can download the software here.
Pronounced C-sharp, not C-hashtag for all you social media gurus, this is the language that was used to develop Microsoft applications in 2000. It’s nearly identical to Java, and is said to combine the robustness of C++ with the advanced features of Java. Basically, if you are familiar with C, C++, or Java, C# will be easy to understand. If you are developing a Windows form application or a Windows phone application, you will be required to use this language. This is a language to consider if you are interested in developing applications for Windows-based platforms.
If Windows isn’t your thing and you’re interested in Apple-based applications, this would be the language you would want to learn. Developed by Brad Cox and Tom Love in 1983, the purpose of Objective C was to address the deficiencies in the C language. Problems with C led to the creation of C++ and Objective C, and the latter is very popular today because of its use in developing applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. This language is general-purpose, object-oriented, and would also be a good language to know if you’re looking to go into the freelance industry.
Python involves using high level built data structures, but it’s still fairly easy to learn. The language is an interpreted, object-oriented language that has a general-purpose use. An interpreted language is one where the instructions are not directly executed by the target machine, but are read and executed by another program. This makes the language faster because it is using the native code of the machine directly. Python was developed by Guide Van Rossum in 1991, and is gaining popularity today because Google invested in the language. Pinterest and Instagram’s websites both run on Python, making it a great language for those interested in becoming a web developer or a software developer.
Ruby is similar to Python in that it is a simple, readable language that mainly focuses on developing web-based applications. It is also an interpreted, object-oriented programming language and was created by Yukihiro Matsumoto in 1995. Hulu, Twitter, Shopify, and Groupon all use Ruby for their websites. Ruby is different from Python in that there’s more than one way to do the same thing. Python is more structured in this aspect. Matsumoto designed Ruby for productivity and fun, and he followed the principles of good user interface design. Programmers who know Ruby are also in high demand today, so if your interest lies in making webpages, Ruby is your go-to language!
There are well over 250 coding languages out in the world, which sounds pretty daunting, but each language has a relationship to another. So, if you learn basic programming languages like the ones listed here, it shouldn’t be hard to branch out. Mark Engelberg, the inventor of ThinkFun’s Code Master, Chocolate Fix, On the Brink, Rover Control, and Robot Repair prefers a language called Clojure, which is a general-purpose language that runs on the Java virtual machine. Once you learn one language, the digital possibilities are endless!