The Best Programming Languages For Web Development in 2021
Choosing a programming language for your website development is a big decision. It’s a major decision. There are a couple of critical factors to consider when deciding on the technology stack for your project from your business goals and requirements to app type to features.
There are hundreds of programming languages out there, each having its own advantages and disadvantages, strengths, and limitations. And the tricky thing is that there’s no “best” language. There’s the right language for your particular project. Therefore, it’s important to choose the language specifically for your project needs.
We’ve browsed a bunch of statistics, surveys, and reports and singled out the five most popular languages for web development: Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, and TypeScript. Note that we’ve arranged the languages in an arbitrary order.
Python is a buzzword among developers as well as businesses. And for a good reason! Python is well-known for its readability, versatility, productivity, and compatibility to name a few.
According to the TIOBE index, Python is the language of 2020 because it saw the highest increase in ratings in a year. It was also included in the list of most loved programming languages in 2020 according to the annual Stack Overflow survey.
In February 2021, there were 246, 163 platforms powered by Python, according to BuiltWith. Why do so many businesses consider it? Why is it so popular? Here are a few reasons.
- Versatility. Python has a great ecosystem with lots of packages and dedicated libraries, allowing you to build just about anything you want.
- Simplicity & rapid development. Python is simple to learn, read, and write. Additionally, it provides lots of ready-made components which cover almost any programming task. This can help you rapidly develop your project, meaning a faster return on investment.
- Security. With Python, you can build secure apps from the very beginning. Django, one of the most popular Python frameworks, offers strong security mechanisms by default so you can keep your website safe from issues like request forgery, cross-site scripting, and SQL injection.
- Large community. There’s a big community around Python. Thousands of experienced Pythonistas around the globe contribute to it, update and improve features, and add to its growing database. Also, a rich community means developers are easy to find ― this makes the hiring process fast and smooth.
Despite all these great benefits, there are some limitations. You shouldn’t use Python for:
- Mobile app development
- 3D rendering and game development
- Lots of memory-intensive programming tasks
- Algorithms that need to run quickly and meet a specific speed requirement
Java is one of the most popular competitors and alternatives to Python. It’s detailed as “a concurrent, class-based, object-oriented language, specifically designed to have as few implementation dependencies as possible”.
First released in 1995, Java had soon become one of the most used languages in the software industry. Today, some websites and apps won’t even work unless you have Java installed.
Flexibility, maintainability, portability, platform independence, and security features are major factors why businesses consider Java for product development. There are quite a lot of big companies that prefer Java to other languages. They include Twitter, Uber, Signal, Spotify, and Netflix. The latter uses Java to handle around 2 billion content requests every day.
As for disadvantages, Java is memory-consuming which results in slow and poor performance. Unlike Python, Java is difficult to understand and read due to complex and long codes and explanations. Additionally, Java is weak at complex UI.
Is PHP dying? Does PHP have a future? Is PHP still relevant in 2021? These questions have been circulating the internet for a while. You may get confused when you run into blogs predicting the demise of PHP. Yet the future of PHP is questionable. Though 79% of all websites are created using this language, it’s fading in popularity. It’s slowly dropping down the most loved programming languages list by Stack Overflow, ranking #20.
Laravel and Symfony are among the top PHP frameworks which give developers access to useful functionality by default. Although developers often blame PHP for its lack of standard libraries, every new version of the language shows upgraded performance.
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
As the Ruby community puts it, Ruby is “a dynamic, open-source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write.” The language reads like English, making it beginner-friendly.
Ruby on Rails ― or simply RoR ― is a Ruby framework that ensures a pleasing coding experience, simplicity, and great speed. It provides lots of features right out of the box: everything you expect from a framework and is a perfect solution for database-backed websites.
Successful examples of Ruby on Rails websites include Basecamp, Dribbble, GitHub, Groupon, Shopify, Crunchbase, and Airbnb.
There are quite a lot of advantages of using TypeScript for businesses. First and foremost, TypeScript reduces development costs and shortens the time to market. Next, it smoothly integrates with Node.js on the backend, and Vue and React on the frontend. It can also be used when creating cross-platform apps with React Native.
Though TypeScript is relatively new, it has already become known among the world’s tech giants such as Slack, Angular, Revolut, Ionic, and Asana. They prefer TypeScript to other technologies because it helps them manage their large JS codebases. An interesting thing is that you don’t have to change a single line of code to adopt TypeScript.
What’s the best programming language for your web development?
When deciding on a language for your website development, we suggest you use the following criteria:
- Budget, time, and team
- Type and complexity of your project
- Scalability and performance
- Developer availability
Below, we include basic questions you should ask yourself when deciding on the tech stack for your project. Answering them will help you in figuring out which choice is best.
Budget, time, and team
- Ask yourself: Am I short on budget? Do I need a quick solution? Do I have enough resources to build a project from scratch?
If you want to go fast to market, we suggest you start as an MVP. There are quite a lot of languages out there to help you build it most efficiently. This includes PHP, Java, Ruby, and Python. For small business websites, it’s worth using website builders like Wix, WordPress, and Joomla. They’re a budget-friendly and easy-to-use option and usually require no coding.
Type and complexity of your project
- Ask yourself: Do I have a simple project? Or is it a complex app that requires more than one language?
Your project type is one of the most important factors in choosing the programming language. A technology stack that works for simple content-based websites may not work for complex eCommerce platforms. Therefore, be clear about your project requirements and features early on. This will help you define a language & framework that perfectly fit your project development needs.
If you are looking into developing a complicated and large-scale platform, consider using languages such as Python/Django, Java/Spring, or PHP/Laravel. Choose a technology that provides everything necessary for developing your project out of the box.
Scalability and performance
- Ask yourself: Does my website need to handle thousands of users daily? Does it need to provide fast performance?
High-load and large-scale software require high-performance languages. Therefore, look for a language that’s great at meeting traffic demand and can help you get your code running faster and more efficiently, and using fewer system resources. Using a weak-performance language can lead to scaling pains and complex architectural issues.
- Ask yourself: Is security a priority?
Choose a programming language that comes with built-in mechanisms that address security issues. For example, Python/Django provides out-of-the-box features to protect against cross-site request forgery (CSRF), cross-site scripting (CSS), SQL injection, clickjacking, to name a few security risks. This makes Python a perfect fit for healthcare software solutions, eCommerce platforms, and government websites where security is a top priority.
- Ask yourself: Is there a large talent pool?
A language can be appreciated on the market and offer great features, but that doesn’t really matter if there’s low developer availability. Look for a language with a strong community. The more people are interested in growing the technology, the faster it develops. Also, a big community = developers are easy to find.