5 recommended programming languages to start your coding journey

If you want to learn to code, the most important thing is to start.
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Choosing our first programming language is a dilemma most of us had gone through when we were taking our first, tentative steps on this programming journey.

Your first programming language becomes a deciding factor that shapes your impression of programming itself. And it could be the thing that convinces you to continue further or abandon learning programming completely.

So, if you are someone entirely new to programming, hoping to dip your toes in the field to see what all the buzz around it is about, you have to be extra careful when picking the first programming language.

Your reasons for learning programming could be different. You might want to learn to program as a hobby or for a personal project. Or you might be looking for a career switch or a side hustle opportunity. Which programming language should be your first could depend on these reasons too.

Therefore, we have prepared this guide for you to find your pick among 5 of the most popular programming languages in 2021. From this mixture of established and up-and-coming languages that are ready to dominate the programming world for a long time to come, you’ll be able to find a language that checks all your boxes as your first programming language.


Python

In recent years, especially with self-learners, Python has become a leading choice among programming languages for beginners.

According to PyPL index , which analyzes Google searches for programming language tutorials, Python edges out the rest of the languages with over 10% margin.

The main reason for Python’s overwhelming popularity among beginners is its easy-to-understand syntax. As a high-level language, compared to languages like Java and C, Python’s syntax is closer to the human languages we understand. It eliminates the fluff and verbose syntax we see in other languages by including only the most necessary symbols and keywords.

For example, a simple Hello World function in Python takes only one line of code.

print("Hello World!")

While to achieve the same in C, we need to follow a syntax with more lines of code.

#include <stdio.h>
int main() {
    printf("Hello, World!");
    return 0;
}

Python supports functional, procedural, and object-oriented programming paradigms. So, mastering Python gives a student the ability to explore different ways of coding and approaching a problem.

Learning Python also gives you more freedom on deciding the path you want to take in the future as a programmer as it is used in a versatile list of programming domains.

Python is currently the leading language in the field of data science and machine learning. It is used as a backend language in web development. And it’s a popular scripting language used for automating tasks.

If you choose Python as your first programming language, you open up an opportunity to explore different areas of programming before confirming where your preferences lie.

The large and rapidly growing community around Python is another reason for you to learn it first. There’s a vast array of tutorials, videos, articles, and books out there to help you with the learning process. And it has an active community willing to help beginners on platforms like Stack Overflow and GitHub.

The advanced and extensive set of libraries and frameworks built for the Python language is another point that could benefit you as a beginner. These libraries could simplify complex details that go into the implementation to allow you to focus on learning programming aspects first instead of delving deeper into the technical side of things.

If you want to learn Python, there are plenty of free and paid resources available, here are some of my favorites:

2021 Complete Python Bootcamp From Zero to Hero in Python @ Udemy

Learn to Code @ Udacity

Learn Python 3 @ CodeCademy


Javascript

Javascript is the language of the web. It’s the language supported by every major browser we see today including Chrome and Firefox. And if you dream of being a full-stack developer, knowing how to program with Javascript is necessary to build the web frontend.

This necessity of the language has made Javascript the most popular programming language among developers. If you choose Javascript as your first programming language, you can’t go wrong with the choice whether you are learning it as a hobby or looking to make a career.

Though not as simple as Python, Javascript is still quite an easy and beginner-friendly language to learn and understand. And the best part of it all? You can experiment with Javascript code right from your browser without worrying about additional tools such as IDEs.

Example of JS code execution on Chrome dev tools

Example of JS code execution on Chrome dev tools

If you are hoping to pursue web development, learning Javascript eliminates the need to learn a second language to build the backend of the website. Because with the introduction of Node.js a few years ago, now you can develop both the backend and frontend of the web app using Javascript.

Today, Javascript has moved beyond a language used for just web development. It’s now commonly used in mobile development and desktop app development, and even finding increased applications in data science.

So, learning Javascript won’t leave you without options to shape your future in programming.

As the language with the most number of repositories on GitHub , you can always count on the Javascript community to provide enough learning materials and offer help when you are struggling with understanding something.

With the existence of amazing third-party libraries and frameworks, finding a solution to a myriad of programming problems with Javascript has never been easier. If you are learning Javascript for frontend development, you would need at least a basic understanding of HTML and CSS, and how to design websites with them.

Here are my top resources for learning javascript, from paid to free courses:

The Complete JavaScript Course 2021: From Zero to Expert! @ Udemy

The Complete 2021 Web Development Bootcamp

Learn JavaScript @ CodeCademy

JavaScript and Data Structured @ freeCodeCamp


Ruby

Ruby, similar to Python, is an easily readable language for humans. In some cases, Ruby’s syntax is more intuitive to read and understand than Python itself. But Ruby has a bit more fluff than Python with some additional symbols and keywords.

Here’s a while loop written in Python.

total = 0
for x in range(5):
    print(x)
    total += x

And, here’s a while loop written in Ruby.

$total = 0
for i in 0..5
    puts "Value of local variable is #{i}"
    total += i
end

As a language designed with the purpose of being “fun and productive”, you’d find coding with Ruby an exciting and intuitive task even as a beginner. It’s evident in the way Ruby’s English-language-like syntax and natural approach to thinking when solving problems.

With Ruby, you have more than one way to solve a problem and the freedom to choose whatever approach feels intuitive to you.

Ruby programs consider everything as objects. This gives you the freedom to add unique properties and actions to each object without any constraints.

With the introduction of the Ruby on Rails framework, Ruby’s popularity shot up to new heights and became a commonly used language in web development. Ruby on Rails is a full-stack web framework that is easy-to-use and beginner-friendly.

Even though Ruby is not as widespread as languages like Python and Javascript, Ruby has climbed up in popularity in the past few years and has a special demand in the programming community.

In the latest developer survey by Stack Overflow , Ruby ranked as the 5th top paying technology among developers. And Ruby is favored by many startups to fulfill their programming needs while saving resources.

Ruby also has a vibrant community of developers willing to welcome beginner programmers with open arms and help them out. Third-party Ruby libraries, known as gems, are also improving and evolving to help you achieve complex programming tasks easily.

Since Ruby’s popularity lies in web development, learning Ruby as your first language would be a good fit for someone who’s willing to pursue this particular programming domain.

I’m not a ruby expert, so I asked for good Ruby materials and I here is the list I compiled:

The Complete Ruby on Rails Developer Course

Learn Ruby @ CodeCademy


Go

Go is the youngest language in our list of candidates for your first programming language. Initially developed by Google, Go was introduced to the public in 2010. Now, it’s maintained as an open-source language with Google’s support.

Because of the unique set of features it offers to developers and its links to Google, Go quickly became a popular language choice in the programming community.

Go has combined a number of useful features from different programming languages while eliminating their negative elements. For example, Go supports static typing and runtime efficiency like C while providing readability comparable to Python.

This combination of features makes Go an ideal programming language for beginners. It has a neat and simple syntax without the verbose of other Object Oriented languages. Which makes the learning curve of Go much less steep.

As a language built in modern times with modern requirements in mind, Go has native support for most of your needs without needing the help of external dependencies. It eliminates the hassle of managing dependencies when you are just starting out in programming.

Most importantly, Go gracefully handles the subject of concurrency with goroutines, unlike any other language. Concurrency is a tough subject many beginner programmers find difficult to fully comprehend, but goroutines simplify the subject to a much easier level and help programs truly support concurrency.

In the Stack Overflow developer survey, Go ranked 12th among the most popular technologies. As a new language with just over a decade behind it, this is an impressive feat and certainly a sign of its future progress.

Go was identified as the 3rd top paying technology in the same survey by developers. If you are learning programming hoping for a future career in the field, this must certainly be good news to you.

As a young and growing community, Go language users are definitely welcoming of newcomers and willing to help you when you are struggling. And it has excellent documentation that will tell you exactly and only what you need to know to learn.

Go: The Complete Developer’s Guide (Golang) @ Udemy

Learn Go @CodeCademy

Learn Go official tutorial @ Golang


C/C++

As low-level languages, C or C++ is not the easiest programming language to learn for someone entirely new to programming. Then why have we added it to the list of programming languages you should consider to be your first in this post?

Because even though C/C++ languages have a steep learning curve and have the possibility to scare you off programming for good, learning either of these languages will give you a deeper understanding of programming concepts and how programming languages work at the base level. And this will build a good foundation and allow you to become a master of this field, unlike any other language.

C and C++ are also used as their introductory programming language by many universities around the world. It’s a testament to the importance of C and C++ as beginner languages that force students to look beyond the syntax and theories to really understand what’s going on under the hood.

Nowadays, these languages are used in almost every programming domain including backend development, game development, and operating systems and browser development.

As one of the oldest yet most popular languages, C, and its object-oriented sibling, C++, have a large community willing to help you throughout the learning journey with abundant learning materials and support for your questions.

So, if you are willing to aim higher with your first programming language, C or C++ will be a good choice for you.

Beginning C++ Programming - From Beginner to Beyond

C++ @ Udacity

Programming Web Development Life Lessons Productivity