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The best programming languages for web development

Nowadays, no company can do without web development. Digitalization is now also taking place in SMEs, which is why the demand for good web developers is growing. So a web developer will always find a project to work on. But which programming languages should he know best in order to be able to work on as many projects as possible? In this article we want to introduce you to the different web development programming languages and show you what advantages and disadvantages as well as areas of application there are for the individual languages. At the end we will of course draw a conclusion, which programming languages a good web developer should know, in order to be able to develop almost any web application. If you have any questions about web development, we at EXWE will be happy to assist you as a strong partner. Feel free to contact us!

Reading time 6 min

What to expect
  1. We briefly explain to you what web development actually is
  2. So that you know which programming languages you should learn, we will introduce you to different ones and tell you their advantages and for which use cases you can best use them.
  3. Then we'll show you which web development programming languages are used for the most popular websites
  4. and which programming languages we at EXWE Agency for Web Development use.

What is web development?

Before we introduce you to the best web development programming languages, we want to briefly pick you up and explain what is meant by web development. Because by this we mean the programming of web applications and websites, but also the web design itself. You can hardly distinguish web applications from normal web pages. However, there is often a featured login area that you can only access with the right data. Web applications are often referred to as web applications or web apps for short. In principle, web development is all applications that you can access through a browser. These are, for example, normal websites that you can use to obtain information, or online stores, content management systems, software as a service and scripts.

Web applications are created by developers with the help of programming languages, and depending on the type of web app and its purpose, some programming languages are more suitable than others. To help you figure out which of the many languages are appropriate for your project, we've listed the most popular web development languages and show you which application area they are intended for.

Which web development programming language should you learn?

Which language you should learn if you are engaged in web development always depends on the application area. Not every language is the best choice for every application. To give you an overview, we have selected different web development programming languages for you as a programmer, explained them and show you what their advantages are and what they are best suited for. You'll learn all this in the next section.

Which programming language is the best for web development?

When you start with web development, you will probably first learn a so-called markup language. This is a language that is mainly necessary for structuring and formatting a text. You will probably have heard the terms HTML and XML before. HTML and XML are both markup languages. You should learn HTML in particular before you move on to a programming language for web development. You can use markup languages to specify what properties text sections have and how they are displayed, for example.

For a brief overview, we have listed the different web development programming languages:

  • PHP
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Node.js
  • Ruby
  • React
  • R
  • Python
  • Perl
  • C++
  • C#

The programming language PHP

You have certainly heard of PHP before. In fact, it is the most popular programming language used for developing dynamic web applications. Dynamic web applications are web pages that are constantly changing, such as pages that display the weather of various locations. Here, among other things, the current temperature changes, which leads to changes in the database. These changes should also be visible on the web page.

The abbreviation PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a scripting language and requires a web server such as Apache to run successfully. Apache can interpret the HP code and create a web page from it when the browser makes a request to the web server.

PHP Advantages PHP Disadvantages
  • Is an open source language
  • It is always under development
  • It is relatively easy to learn and therefore well suited for beginners
  • Can be integrated with HTML
  • Has good performance
  • Extensive documentation available
  • The language has been around for a long time and some web applications still run on old versions

Mainlyused to create dynamic web pages and web applications - suitable for customers who want a web page that can constantly retrieve data from the server.

Java

Java is an object-oriented programming language of the company Sun Microsystems, with which programs can be created. Very popular is the use of Java to develop apps for the Android operating system, which was constructed by Google. In general, complex projects are relatively easy to implement with Java. This is due to the high number of web frameworks and libraries. Moreover, Java projects can be easily extended and maintained with additional features.

Java Advantages Java Disadvantages
  • Versatile
  • Platform-independent
  • Open source
  • Projects with Java can be easily extended
  • Difficult to learn compared to other programming languages for web development

Application area: web applications, apps and desktop applications

JavaScript

Although the name is reminiscent of Java, JavaScript is a completely separate programming language for web development, which in itself has no overlap with Java. Except for the small feature that both have C as their base. It came to the name JavaScript, because at the time of development (1995) Java was already gaining popularity. One wanted to take along this upswing by the name also for the new programming language.

However, JavaScript is primarily a scripting language for making websites particularly interactive. Through JavaScript, animations and advertisements can be created and videos can be integrated.

JavaScript Advantages JavaScript Disadvantages
  • Comprehensive frameworks
  • Versatile language, as there is a choice between functional, procedural and object-oriented programming
  • Suitable for online marketing to create ads
  • Performance has improved over the years
  • Possibility to write in script file or in HTML code
  • Not always search engine friendly when used for web pages

Application area: For web browsers - meanwhile Javascript is actually used by all websites (client side)

Node.js

Node.js was developed and introduced in 2009 by Ryan Dahl, with the purpose of being able to create scalable network applications. Node.js is a runtime environment based on JavaScript. However, it is much more powerful than the static JavaScript and can handle multiple requests simultaneously without performance loss. For this reason, Node.js is also one of the most sought-after web development programming languages or application frameworks.

Node.js Advantages Node.js disadvantages
  • Very good performance
  • Allows backend programming with JavaScript
  • Not good backward compatibility
  • Not so good for CPU heavy projects

Application area: network applications, modern websites

More info about Node.js on YouTube:

Ruby

Ruby is a simple programming language that can be used for complex projects. It was invented in the 90s by Yukihiro Matsumoto. Although Ruby's syntax is unusual, the web development language is quick to learn. In combination with the Ruby on Rails framework, even web apps can be created in no time.

Ruby Advantages Ruby Disadvantages
  • Offers more possibilities and is faster than PHP
  • Powerful
  • Is easy to learn
  • Available for all major operating systems
  • Unusual syntax
  • Difficult to maintain
  • Error messages are not easy to understand

Application area: Mainly web apps and elaborate projects in a very short time

React

React is a library for web development based on JavaScript. It is mainly suitable for rendering user interfaces and even sophisticated UI can be easily implemented with React. Moreover, the programming language for web development can be used well with JavaScript, HTML and also Node.js.

Originally, Facebook developed React for its own use and the programming language is still used there today. It is open-source with MIT license and hence can be used by all programmers as well.

React advantages React disadvantages
  • Sophisticated UI can be implemented
  • Library is constantly being expanded
  • Syntax needs getting used to

Application area: Web applications that require a special user interface (UI)

R

R is a flexible language that is open-sourced. It is particularly suitable for Big Data, static data analysis and graphics creation. It was developed in the USA in the 70s by John Chambers and some of his colleagues. With R, you can easily create web applications that will work and can be customized in the future.

R Advantages R Disadvantages
  • Better and faster than mySQL
  • Well suited for complex webapps
  • Also suitable for beginners
  • Open source code
  • There is no great or helpful user interface

Application area: Suitable for Big Data and data analysis, especially for web apps

Python

The Python programming language could be called a jack of all trades. It can be used in web development as well as in software development. The syntax is very reminiscent of the English language, which is why Python is also easy to learn. The programming language is ideally suited for web applications and websites. Especially data sets can be processed without any problems.

In addition, Python can be used as an object-oriented, functional or aspect-oriented language. Due to its dynamic nature, Python is often used as a scripting language.

Python Advantages Python Disadvantages
  • Python is versatile
  • Almost any task can be implemented
  • Good performance
  • Suitable for web development and software development
  • Easy processing of data
  • Simple syntax and easy to type
  • Python is strong on server and desktop platforms, but not so much on mobile platforms
  • No high performance speed

Application area: Especially suitable for lists and data structures in web applications

Perl

Perl is a so-called scripting language or interpreted programming language, which was published in 1987. It is used in combination with PHP, JavaScript, Ruby and also Python. It is particularly powerful and can efficiently process text files. Perl gives programmers almost free rein when it comes to writing a program. However, this can be confusing for laymen or beginners, as there are hardly any guidelines for them to shimmy along.

Perl Advantages Perl Disadvantages
  • Freedom in programming
  • Several ways for programmers to achieve their goal
  • Very efficient
  • Rarely used in projects that have a focus on speed and hardware
  • May be confusing for beginners

Application area: Popular for web applications, especially in finance and bioinformatics

C++

C++ is a further development of the well-known programming language C. Meanwhile, C++ is very popular in web development, but can also be used for software development. This makes it very versatile and attractive. Programmers who master C++ can implement many different projects. Thus, web apps can be programmed, but also classic software applications. The only difficult thing is the strict syntax, which exposes the option to maintain a lot of code at once, but is also very finicky with errors. So, perfect mastery of the C++ language is not that easy.

C++ Advantages C++ Disadvantages
  • Good performance
  • Versatile
  • Hard to learn
  • Strict syntax

Application area: Suitable for web and software development

C# (C Sharp)

C# is an even newer programming language that was completed in 2001. By the way, it is pronounced "C Sharp" and is an object-oriented language that runs on all platforms. However, it was developed to be used in the .Net strategy, which is why it is particularly well tailored to it and is mostly used there. C# is related to Java and C++ programming languages and is used to create web applications and web APIs.

C# (C Sharp) Advantages C# (C Sharp)Disadvantages
  • Good combination of depth and functionality
  • Particularly well suited for Windows applications, but nowadays can also be used for macOS, Linux and other systems
  • Is being further developed
  • Large selection of libraries
  • No obvious disadvantages

Application area: general purpose language used for web applications and web APIs

How can I distinguish between client-side and server-side programming languages?

There are differences between client-side and server-side programming language. Client refers to a computer or the hardware that calls various web pages. The server, on the other hand, is the place where the web page is stored. In server-side, the code is executed on the server and the result is sent to the client. While in client-side programming languages, the code is first executed on the client (e.g. browser).

These are the programming languages we use in our web development agency

You want a job in a web development agency and wonder what you need to know? We would like to give you an insight into our daily business and our already completed projects in web development.

Our web developers mainly deal with PHP and JavaScript when working on our customer projects. Often this is done in combination with the framework Vue.js and the markup languages HTML and CSS. With this they then develop, among other things, online stores, normal websites and webapps. If you have any questions about this, you can always contact us. You are still looking for a new challenge? Perfect! We would like to have more web developers in our team.(Here you can find our current job offers.)

Conclusion

As you've seen in our list of different programming languages, it's not that easy to pick the best programming language. Depending on the application you want to program, one programming language is more suitable than the other. But we can speak mainly from our experience. For us, the use of PHP is simply essential. In combination with Javascript we were able to successfully develop all web projects so far! And as you can see in the table above, some of the most successful websites were developed using PHP.

In fact, as a web developer, it's relatively uncommon to master only one programming language. With time and a lot of practice you will realize which language is best suited for which application. For starters, we can recommend PHP. Just start with it and see where the road takes you.

Meike
Meike
from 04.03.22 um 12:11

Hello, my name is Meike. I take care of the EXWE back office and am responsible for our social media channels. All of our articles are meant to make your life easier and help you make decisions. Nevertheless, it can happen that something remains unclear, so: If you have questions about this article you can easily reach me at +49 231 93149827.

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