Popular Web Development Languages


New technologies keep appearing rather fast in the software development world and the trends in programming languages keep evolving with changing necessities too. All the main web development languages share a common purpose in helping the developer to design a website and add functionality to the designs. It would be wise to remember that there is no one best language, when it comes to choosing the programming language for your website. Depending on your project, a web developer may choose a tested popular software stack but where applications so require, there may be a lot of repurposing and layering in languages and frameworks. Keeping that in mind, this article gives you an overview of the more popular programming languages in use by the web industry today.

What Are Programming Languages?

Simply put, properly constructed programming languages are developers’ tools to communicate a set of instructions to a computer system. A programming language can generally be divided into two components of the syntax (form or type) and its semantics (meaning of the form or type). Developers will have their own preferences about which languages and frameworks to use for a particular kind of site, or application to maximize its potential, depending on the project size and scope. The universe of programming languages is ever growing and there is a growing demand for developers having expertise in different programming languages. Based on popularity rankings on sites like, W3Techs and survey from Stack Overflow  the top programming languages for web development are JavaScript, SQL, PHP, Python and Ruby.


Did you know that the actual official name for the language is EMCAScript? First created in 1995 by Brendan Eich, JavaScript (JS) is a high-level and dynamic scripting language for building interactive websites. It is one of the most popular languages supported by most web browser software, without requiring any additional plugin. JavaScript is primarily used for front end development and client-side scripting of websites. Nearly 88% of all websites use JavaScript and even the most popular sites such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon use it for client-side scripting. It has a number of easy to use tools that can help display pop-up messages, add drop down menus or other effects to pages or develop basic games. Further along with HTML5, JavaScript is also used to develop high traffic mobile and desktop apps too. Being a higher level language, it shields the complex details of the machine and is therefore easy to pick up.


SQL or Structured Query Language was originally designed to manage data through Database Management Systems. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a cross-platform programming language for relational database management systems (RDBMS) and it is widely used for storing, accessing or querying data from database systems such as Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and IBM DB2. With SQL you can manage a database system, execute commands, retrieve data, insert data, modify data, delete data, create new reports and set permission. SQL comes in different dialects and every database has a modified syntax, but they more or less share the same vocabulary. Systems such as MySQL, Oracle, SQLite and PostgreSQL are the most popular ones being used in a lot of projects in hospitals, governments, businesses, and banks. Users are not likely to come into contact with the database directly as web applications fetch the information from the database when required.


PHP is C decedent language, developed by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. Whereas C is normally used for lower level development, PHP has a lot of extensions and a wide range of frameworks designed to build dynamic and responsive websites and write various web applications. Originally it was short for ‘Personal Home Page’, but now it stands for ‘Hypertext Preprocessor’ as it connects to HTTP the HyperText Transfer Protocol. Being open source, stable and compatible with both UNIX based OS and Windows OS has made it one of the most popular languages for server-side scripting. It powers over two hundred million websites online and even most visited sites like Facebook, Yahoo, and even WordPress are written in PHP.  This programming language is more commonly used among startups, media agencies, advertising apps, and small software organizations. The release of PHP 7 branch has made it an even more powerful programming language, with huge performance improvements. It’s pretty easy to learn, because it has a C like syntax.


Python is a high-level, general purpose programming language for computer and backend web development, artificial intelligence, 3D rendering, mobile app development, and data analysis. It was designed and developed by Guido van Rossum in the 1980s. Python is an extremely beginner friendly language because it uses indentation instead of curly braces making it so much easier to read and learn than Java or Perl. This multi-paradigm language supports OOP (Object Oriented Programming), functional, procedural style and other paradigms. Python has a low memory footprint and is good at string manipulation tasks. It’s a mature language with a large number of tools and expansive library useful for Machine Learning and data analysis tasks. Python is used for server-side programming, but in comparison to PHP and ASP.NET its user base is low. Reddit, Shopzilla, NASA, Instagram, National Weather Service and YouTube are examples of sites that use Python for server-side programming. Python has two main versions, the 2.X and the newer 3.X that break compatibility in packages and libraries.


Ruby is a relatively new language designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto, in 1995. Ruby was originally created to be productive and fun, combining parts of other languages such as Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, and Ada. It’s a general purpose reflective programming language that is object-oriented, functional, dynamic and can support multiple programming paradigms like functional, OOP, imperative and more  Ruby boasts a powerful framework called Rails, which made developing sites and web application in Ruby extremely easy and intuitive. With Ruby on Rails it is extremely easy to create a blog or just build your own website ideas, like a shopping cart system, for fast prototyping. The information security tool, Metasploit, and social media site, Twitter, are just two vastly different applications originally developed with Ruby using its Rails framework. It is easy to learn as a first language for beginners.


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Java is the most in-demand programming language in the world with over 10 million developers and 13 billion Java-enabled devices. It was developed by Sun Microsystems in the 1990’s and owned by Oracle Corporation. Java is a simple, portable, high performance, object oriented, distributed, multithreaded and secure programming language. Java programs are used for cross-platform development, whether Microsoft Windows, MacOS, or Linux, so anyone can build applications for computer, mobile, even smart TV’s and the web using it. Java is also the language of choice amongst Android developers, the most popular mobile operating system today. Android applications like Angry Birds, Temple Run and Candy Crush are all written in Java.


Apple Inc. developed Swift as the new standard programming language to replace Objective-C for app development on Apple platforms such as MacOS, iOS, WatchOS, and tvOS. It was made publicly available in 2014 and is much safer, faster, more flexible and easier than Objective-C. Swift can reduce the length of the code, saving time and energy so the market for it is only on the rise in the future

Summing It Up

Java is immensely popular in the enterprise, and honing your JavaScript skills may help you land a job in a good company. PHP is a big player in the mid-market. Web developers should also stay current with the newer emerging programming languages like Rust, and Swift, to remain competitive in the market. But make no mistake- this is a polyglot world with industries employing multiple languages to take advantage of each language’s special strengths.

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